Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Good Forkful of Fennel and Sprouts

Our duties to the feral young ensure that we rarely check out happening restaurants at the height of their heat, but every once in a great while, we find ourselves inexplicably in with the in crowd, as was the case last Friday when the loan of a car helped us overcome the transportation-related inertia that had kept us from darkening the door of The Good Fork, a recently-opened Red Hook eatery owned by our friends, Ben and Sohui. Let me tell you, these guys are something else. Last year they staged a full-length pirate play in their backyard, and the previous October, they turned the yard into an ersatz Hofbrauhaus, complete w/ Extreme Apple Bobbing, a hotly anticipated potato carving contest, beer, kraut and sausages galore. (In addition to my own offspring, I was escorting an unrelated six-year-old, who bypassed the good grub, feeding exclusively on marshmallows inserted into hot dog buns, while I mulled over how her parents' would have reacted, had they known I'd be spiriting her to the nether regions of Red Hook, after dark, on the bus.) (Perhaps some day a baby will come along to rain on Ben and Sohui's parade! It's a mitzvah!)

Okay, back to The Good Fork. Even if you have to take a plane to the subway to the B61 bus, you should get yourself there, but for cod's sake, make reservations if you want a table. They're reeling 'em in with their bare hands and deservedly so. I can't say enough good things about the food, the decor, and the appeal of opening a business half a block from home where you can commune with all your (childless) friends who've been hired to staff the joint. It gave me such a warm feeling to see Sohui's happy head tied up in a bandana in the kitchen (still attached to her body, of course, moving around) and Ben, swanning about the dining room he himself designed, clad in something that might have been the bottom half of his pirate costume. Even the children relished what they were served. I was particularly taken by the cakes - crab and molten, flourless chocolate - but their presentation was so beyond me, I decided to try my hand at ripping off a supporting player, instead. This slaw-like salad was probably plated to give back up to the crab cake, but dang, it were good!

My version was - surprise, surprise - sweeter, and also used totally different ingredients, but it got my friend Little MoMo all jacked up chez-nous a few nights ago, so at her request, I'm prepared to share my trade secrets with the unknown rabble.

Ayun's Good Forkful Salad-Slaw

Slice a bulb (or whatever you call that cardiac looking thing) of Fennel. You'll end up with 3 distinct shapes in your bowl:
* Slawlike ribbons
* Penny-sized circles you can string like beads, owing to a fetching central hole.
* & Feathery sprinkle-herbs (not too many of these though, or things will end up like the edge of the pond come pollen season.)

Wantonly festoon with a handful of brocolli sprouts (I'd never seen them before, but there they were at Met Foods, looking like something you'd expect to see unfurling from a Chia Pet. Given the chance, these babies will kick cancer to the curb, if the Poindexters over at Johns Hopkins are to be believed.)

Toast some sliced almonds, and sprinkle those over the proceedings, too.

Make yourself a nice little Asian-inspired dressing (I cribbed this one from my friend, Jesse, who cribbed it from a recipe published by his famous ex-employer, the one he ordered me never to name):

1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup of sesame oil
1 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 minced shallot
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
& a lively spritz or two of lime juice.

Dress up and you'll be good to go (to the Good Fork at your earliest convenience!)


Monday, April 24, 2006

Perfumed Fish

I haven't worn perfume since I ran out of the bright purple vanilla-musk hippie oil for which I abandoned Love's Baby Soft, but I'd resume the practice in a New York minute if I could find a product that'd make me smell as good as this fish.

... actually, he smelled kind of fishy until I'd had my way with him.

Perfumed Fish

Soak 1 Thai dried chile in a half cup of warm water. Alternatively, tell a Mexican chile you're going to take it to Thailand just as soon as the damn divorce comes through, then before it knows what's what, toss it into the teacup for a good soaking! Suckah! When it's somewhat more flexible than it was (20 minutes?) chop off the stem and reserve the soaking water.

Trim and mince 1 stalk of lemongrass. Remove the tough outer leaves if you don't want to rupture a tendon in your hand.

Chop one small shallot.

Scrape the freezer burn off the coriander roots you've been squirreling away like a lunatic and hope that they'll equal a tablespoon when chopped. (I think you'll do just fine without them, if you're just starting your frozen garbage collection. Don't let yourself get too hung up on what you don't have. Concentrate instead on what a good person you'll be, if, like the Native Americans, you use every piece of every bunch of cilantro you ever buy. In my experience, it will take you about a year to store up a tablespoon's worth, but only because sometimes, the sinful grocer trims away those roots, not knowing or perhaps even caring about the wastefulness of such aesthetic barbarism!)

Squeeze half a lime.

Haul out the blender, throw all of the above ingredients into the jar and grind it into something that true, might not be equal to attaching a pair construction paper bunny ears to a paper plate, but nonetheless resembles paste.

Cube 3/4 pound of basa fillets. You know what they call "basa" in Vietnam? Catfish. Anything with firm white flesh (rules me out!) will do.

Pour the perfumed flavor paste over the fish cubes and mix it up.

Then add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (my perfume! my beautiful perfume!)

Chop a couple of scallions (save the white bulbs for another use. Earrings. I don't know.) Add them too.Wait, save a tablespoon's worth to sprinkle like jimmies over the finished product.

Denude the poor basil plant on the windowsill of yet another half dozen leaves. shred them and chuck them in too.

You do have a bamboo steamer don't you? If not, you can rig something up, can't you? I used to upend a teacup in a stockpot, then balance a cereal bowl on top of it...and let me tell you, am I glad those days are over. For this recipe, I put the fish in four plastic rice bowls - yes, the ones the children will eat their cereal out of a few hours later - and distributed them between 2 bamboo steaming baskets, stacked atop a medium sized pot.

Steam for 40 minutes.

Serve over rice, garnished with the scallion-jimmies.

I'm having a helluva time reading Julia Child's posthumously published memoir, My Life in France. She just described an older female acquaintance as being "as vigorous as a pirate". Let us all resolve that tomorrow, we, too, shall be vigorous as pirates.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Marinated Cukes w/ Asian Flavor

This is so simple, it barely qualifies as a recipe.
I just want to make sure y'all have a nice side ready to go for the Perfumed Fish I'm gonna lay on you tomorrow.

Marinated Cukes with Asian Flavor

Take 2 or 3 cukes, halve them lengthwise, and tongue 'em out good with a spoon to remove the seeds. If you're feeling decorative, you might take a vegetable peeler and give the rinds some alternating stripes. Toss in a bowl. Oh man, did I have the perfect bowl just when, wouldn't you know it, the camera battery revealed itself to be as dead as the dodo?

1 & 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of chili pepper flakes
and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Mix it up good and that's it!

Dag, man, if you ever needed a justification for a little cuke patch out back, this is it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mango Scallops with Poblano and I Don't Know What All

After a few days of hospital food (routine testing for a chronic condition - no worries) (except for the cuisine), I reckon a stir-fried sock would taste good, but I decided to up the ante a little more with a scallop recipe that had caught my eye in a recent cooking mag. Unfortunately, I didn't have the recipe with me when I went to the store, nor could I find it when I started rummaging through the back issue stack at around 7pm last night. Well, in the immortal words of Mehitabel the alley cat, "Wotthehell, wotthehell and toujours gai!" Sometimes you've just got to blunder through with what you've got. I'd do it again and here's the recipe as proof.

Mango Scallops with Poblano and I Don't Know What All

Rinse a 1/2 pound of bay scallops, pat them dry and send them off to play 30 Minutes in the Closet with
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
and 1/4teaspoon of turmeric

Seed and chop a medium-sized poblano pepper, a small red onion and a large mango. (Dig how festive, tricolore & blurry things look on the counter! Man, even that sponge looks good enough to eat!)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high, add the onion and the poblano, stirring so they don't burn. When most of their pretty brightness has been leached away by the ravages of the pan, add the mangos and marinated scallops and stir for 2 minutes or so.

Now it's time to banish dull care with a splash of white wine. I used pinot grigio - a big mouthful's worth.

Give that pan a mouthful of coconut milk too.

Chop up a handful of cilantro, stems and all!

Pull some leaves off the basil plant!

If I'd' had a lime, I'd have squoze that sucker over the proceeding, but I didn't have a lime (which is why we couldn't make margaritas when Greg volunteered to fetch some tequila later in the evening)
(Instead, I substituted an ounce of salmon roe, which doesn't taste anything like lime juice, but is as pretty as those red beads Hunca Munca finds in the dolls' pantry in The Tale of Two Bad Mice. I was a picky picky eater as a child, but damn, what I would have given to eat those beads!)

Serve over a modest amount of rice ... (Leaning to hard on the white stuff is a one-way ticket to Blandsville, dig?)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Green Cashew Curry

Look, either you suit up in your winter coats to witness firsthand the aural miracle of the Hungry March Band serenading the Polar Bear Club on the beach at Coney Island as Astroland officially opens for another fun-filled season or you spend a precious day of your dwindling life expectancy restocking the pantry like some kind of automotan housewife!

Just look at those naked shelves!Like, what, we're going to eat a rock shaped baked potato, seasoned with raisins, rancid quinoa and ear medicine for a dead cat? Sounds delish. Maybe we should order out. But wait, there's that green curry recipe I'd been ogling in that little Readers Digest-sized cooking mag at Ms. Lindsay-Abaire's house, the one she emailed to me under the subject heading "What an asshole!" as if it was her fault I forgot to take it with me as I was frog-marching my wailing son downstairs after a "too short" 3 hour visit. Wait, you don't think she's calling me...

Fried from the day's festivities, I wasn't counting on anything more vivid than merely servicable, but this speed-easy sauce turned frozen cooked shrimp, plain rice and steamed baby carrots (I told you, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel) into something I can't wait to eat again! Whoa, Nelly!

Green Cashew Curry
Peel a 1/4 in. thick, finger-length slice of ginger and chop it into tiny pieces with a blender
(If the height of your cabinets mean that you store your blender with its lid's detachable plastic knob in the blender jar, make sure your appliance's power button is set to "off" before you plug it in, because otherwise, your poor wiping-out skills may put you at risk of eating something that's probably harmless, but looks an awful lot like ground glass. I'm not being rhetorical here. I don't know what it is with me and the blender lately. Last month, I attempted to grind a half a cup of peanuts without bothering to put the lid on at all. Goobers gone wild.)

Pour a scant cup of roasted raw cashews into a dry pan and roast em and toast em but don't burn em.
The whiz all but two tablespoons of them until it looks like your blender's full of sand. Observe blender-appropriate safety precautions at all times.

Now add:
1/3 cup of plain low-fat yogurt
1/4cup of packed cilantro leaves & stems (Lindsay-Abaire is on record as thinking this sounds stingy)
1Tablespoon of brown sugar
sea salt to taste
& 1 teaspoon of curry powder (Stingy, says Lindsay-Abaire, who suspects the magazine in which this recipe was published in its original form to be geared toward culinary low-brows who couldn't deal with the idea of ever using more than a teaspoon of the stuff. I might add that I think my success with this recipe can be traced in large part to this wonderful medium-spicy, aromatic curry powder blind luck bade me purchase from a bulk jar at Aphrodisia, this little store on Bleecker that's one half amazing herbs, spices and other pulverized essentials and the other half nosegays, potpourri and country cottage-shaped ceramic teapots that make me break out in hives.

Rock that hot blender action for a minute or two, then spoon it onto whatever lame excuse you're trying to pass off as dinner, sprinkle with the two tablespoons of reserved cashews and blush fetchingly as they slather you with their honeyed words.

PS - Upon leaving the boardwalk at Coney Island, we decided that we could no longer let hearsay determine the best pizza ) in NYC and hoofed it to Neptune to see if Totonno's is really all that. It was and is, and just as I was warming up to the deliberately less-than-gracious service, the waitress cast off the shackles of long habit and bestowed a smile on young Milo. Hope her face didn't ache the next morning. I know he's kind of hard to see, but, believe me, all you Soprano fans are going to want to put your hands together for the guy in the next booth!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Nobu's Signature Dish Reworked for Cletus and the Rest of Us Slack Jawed Yokels

My mom gave me Nobu Matsuhisa's Nobu Now for my birthday, a very thoughtful present that I'm hoping means she'll never waste her hard earned money on another expensive but matronly linen garment that makes my ass look like forty pound of potatos in an unbleached sack. (I created a monster when I introduced her to the concept of wearing socks with Birkenstocks twenty years ago.)

Speaking of hard earned money, I've only made it to Nobu once, and then only because it was my friend Jeanne's birthday, as well as NYC Restaurant Week and also, I figured it was my reportorial duty to check out this famously fashionable scene in case I some day find myself wanting to write, I don't know, The Bonfire of the Vanitiesor something. I knew that the scolds on Chowhound held a universally low opinion of Nobu's sushi, but something compelled me to order it anyway. There was nothing wrong with it, I just lost sight of the fact that I'm one of those who gets the most pleasure from sushi served in a bustling, proletarian setting, like Taro Sushi, Geido, Sapporo East, or, for that matter, the Tsukiji Fish Market. In retrospect, I should have taken the opportunity to try Nobu's signature Black Cod with Miso.

Back to the cookbook. Its photographs are so mouthwatering and elegant, it's a shame that they're destined to be maimed by my waterlogged countertop and splatterific cooking style, but the recipes themselves seem dictated by the incredibly rarified, divorced-from-reality Emperor of Cathay, as portrayed by Mick Jagger in Shelly Duvall's Faerie Tale Theater. There are casual references to fish my fish store guys have never heard of and Japanese hot plates that stump my Japanese friends and all manner of gilded exotica ingredients-wise. Most of them just made me howl, but the Black Cod with Miso did seem within reach, so when I was shopping for my crab the other day, I also picked up some Chilean Sea Bass (I'd call it the Poor Man's Black Cod if it wasn't so damn expensive.) Did I mention that this baby flips a big birdie to conventional wisdom by marinating for a minimum of 48 hours? So, as soon as the dishwasher was loaded with the pots and pans of one dinner, I had to turn right around and start preparing another. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to buy the sake that's one of Nobu's few indispensible-sounding ingredients. How cruel when a fish that's going to be stinking up the fridge for two whole days forces you to venture into a torrential rain storm at 10pm. Got to get me to that liquor store!

Nobu's second crime is supplying measurements near exclusively in terms of ounces. What's 10 1/2 ounces of miso paste look like? You tell me. If it hadn't been for that vintage Weight Watcher's scale I found on the curb a couple years ago and now use for calculating postage, I could have found myself flushing fifteen bucks worth of Chilean Sea Bass down the toilet! ("Oh my god, what have I done?! Fetch me the plunger, Pa!") All that weighing made me so crabby, I decided that Nobu could shove his Yuzu Miso Sauce up his ass - if I'm going to haul it back and forth to the East Village in search of exotic perishables, I expect to make more significant use of them than just the aesthetic ("dot the plate with the Yuzu Miso Sauce, varying the size of the dots"). I remained open to the the idea of covering the fish with a heat resistant shield of "daikon skin", except that I forgot to buy a daikon and I was still brimming with resentment from my last-minute, inclement sake run.

In the end, though, I have to hand it to Nobu. Even when near-totalled by my ommissions, substitutions and approximations, his original recipe turned out beyond delicious - and as Heloise might say, getting most of the work out of the way 2 whole days before company comes, is a real ring-a-ding hint.

Two Day Miso Sea Bass
(formerly known as Black Cod with Miso)

Combine 3 & 1/2 ounces of mirin (That's midway between 1/3 and 1/2 cup, Cletus)
with 3 & 1/2 ounces of sake
Bring to a boil and "allow the alcohol to evaporate" - which I interpreted as let it reduce itself by half.

Reduce heat to medium and add approximately 3/4 cup of white miso paste in several installments.
(If you want to go postal with it, you can dick around until you've got 10 & 1/2 ounces of the stuff, but don't forget to weigh your battered measuring cup first, so you don't count its weight as part of the final sum. Nobu would have you believe that the dish will be ruined if you're just half a butterfly's wing over the called for amount, but unless you're expecting him to be ringing your doorbell in 48 hours, I think you'll be safe eyeballing it with a measuring cup)
Stir all the while you're adding whatever size dollop of miso you've settled upon - if you were going to spend the next 48 hours marinating in something, wouldn't you want it to be silky smooth, as opposed to lumpier than yesterday's oatmeal?

Jack the heat back up to high, and stir in 1/2 cup of sugar (delivered in several batches).

(Resist the temptation to stick your finger in for a little taste because, speaking from experience, this shit has napalm-like properties.)

Remove it fromthe heat, let it cool for half an hour or so. then pour it into some sort of oven-proof vessel that isn't going to create a total real estate nightmare in your fridge. I used a white ceramic pie plate. Nobu uses "a tray for marinating". Dump in (Nobu's words, not mine, I swear) a half pound of black cod or Chilean Sea Bass or some comparable meaty, expensive ocean filet. Baste it tip to tail in the miso sauce, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and spend the next two days reassuring your dining companion that hardly anybody dies from botulism anymore.

When the big night arrives (if you forget and accidentally stuff yourself w/ pizza on what was supposed to be Black Whatever with Miso night, it's no big deal, as 72 hours of marination only deepens the deliciousness), scrape all the miso out of the "tray" and off of the fish, and put it in a preheated 400º oven for ten minutes.

When the timer goes off, plop it into a skillet over medium for like 5 minutes. I know I sound kind of vague, but believe me, Nobu is even worse. I'm thinking this is just a step to make the dish look and smell even prettier than it already does (and keep emergency room visits to a minimum)

Serve with rice, pickled ginger, and a couple of size C batteries in lieu of yuzu sauce.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

you know...

I don't know where Time Magazine gets off publishing a cover story about global warming when it's SNOWING in Brooklyn on April 5.

Vietnamese Crabmeat Soup with (Elderly) Asparagus

You know, I don’t think I’d ever cooked crab before last night, unless you count the crab cakes I occasionally purchase for our reheating pleasure when we repair to the summer palace. I often find myself getting misty over the 25 cent crabs Greg and I used to buy on the beach in Nha Trang. They made such an impression on me, that now I am constitutionally unable to bask on sand without at some point remarking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there was a lady in a conical hat carrying a can of boiling water and a can of crabs slung milkmaid-style on a pole across her shoulders, and after she’d cooked them and served them to us with some salt and a wedge of lime, she’d squat a few feet away, waiting to carry the empty shells away?” (Hardly seems fair that the crab ladies are the ones to get stuck with a fine when some pampered, indecently-dressed Western tourist litters the beach with their gnawed-on remains.) No doubt those Nha Trang crabs owed much of their magic to the setting in which they were prepared, but I’d be willing to fake me up a facsimile if only it didn’t involve boiling a living creature to death. That ranks high on my list of awful ways to go, a subject that’s obsessed me since childhood. I was more than able to stomach the delicious results of the murder-by-scalding to which I’d been a not-so-innocent bystander on the beach in Vietnam, but I don’t think I could bear to be the executioner in my Brooklyn kitchenette.

Fortunately, last night’s recipe called for lump crabmeat. For someone who prides herself on the freshness of her ingredients and her moralistic stance toward factory farming, I had very little trouble convincing myself that the plastic tub I brought home from Fish Tales contained nothing more than the salvageable odds and ends of creatures who’d washed up on the beach, after the seagulls had gotten a chance to work them over first.

And don’t ask me where I get off claiming freshness on the part of my ingredients. That white asparagus had been mouldering in the fridge for over a week and a half, yet another impulse purchase fallen victim to both travel and pre-existing plans to dine out. White asparagus is much too highly prized by the gourmet crowd to just chuck in the trash, however. I had to find some way to justify its existence in my home, even if that justification involved crab. Only when I was knee-deep in preparations did I read the recipe closely enough to realize that it called for canned white asparagus, like it’s the sort of item one can expect to find stocked at Met Foods between the California olives and the creamed corn. It may well be, for all I know. I don’t have much truck with the canned vegetable aisle.

Vietnamese Crabmeat Soup with Elderly White Asparagus
Break out your minimum-of-3-quart soup pot and add
4 cups of water
A couple of Knorr bouillon cubes (I used one fish & one vegetable & next time, I think I’d rethink that fish)
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
& 1/4 teaspoon of salt
Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.

Chop 6 shallots and 2 cloves of garlic.
Fry them in a big skillet in1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, stirring all the while so you don’t disgrace yourself by burning them in front of the white asparagus crowd.

Just when things are starting to smell nice, it’s nice to stink things up by adding
1/2 lb of fresh or canned lump crabmeat
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
& fresh ground black pepper as you see fit.
Fry it up for another one minute and I’ll tell you, I would have been content to stop right there, because that was one fine tasting mash! Start slapping that shit on crackers and you could easily polish off the whole pan in the time it takes to watch a couple of episodes of Arrested Development. Or, if you’re really gung-ho to see this recipe through to completion, set it aside for now.

Bring the soup back to a boil. (Hey, wouldn’t it be great if a lady in a conical hat came along, carrying a can of boiling water and a can of crabs slung milkmaid-style on a pole across her shoulder, to make you a little snack as you’re making dinner?)
Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and whisk it in, stirring gently until the soup becomes clear(ish) again.
Give an egg a sort of half assed beating and add that too, stirring all the while.

If you’re using fresh or formerly fresh asparagus, peel the tough part of the stalks away, cut it into inch-long sections, lightly steam it in a tiny bit of water and add both it and its water to the soup. If you’re using Jolly Green giant, just chuck it in as is, juice and all.

Follow it up with the crab mixture, assuming there’s any left after Old Man Triscuit’s had his way with it.

Heat it through and serve sprinkled with a sliced scallion and a handful of shredded cilantro.

aspirant crab ladies ----------->
(Hey kids! Stay tuned for Nobu’s miso marinated black cod, which, much to Greg’s native Cape Codder horror, must fester for a minimum of forty-eight hours in its marinade.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Faux Fish Pho

Three excellent things about this dish in its original inception:

1. A fine excuse to drag out the bridal tureen

2. Tasted near identical to the pho we ate for breakfast in the streets of Saigon and the pho we ate for dinner in that strip mall south of Argyle St. in Chicago

3. Made Greg very nervous even though the recipe insisted that an application of boiling broth would “cook” the raw ground beef at the bottom of the tureen.

I missed this dish and it only took me three years to figure out that diced salmon could probably stand in for ground beef. The light bulb over my head picked a serendipitous time to turn on, given that there was some lemongrass approaching middle age in the vegetable bin and Fish Tales wouldn’t close for another 45 minutes or so. It still filled up the tureen, tasted as good as I remembered and most rewardingly, made Greg a bit squirmy at the top.

Salmon Pho

Skin and dice 1/2 pound of salmon – the fresher the better. What you don’t want is the joke so beloved to my nasty boss at Showstopper costumes, the one about the blind man who, passing by the fish market, doffs his hat and calls out, “Mornin’, girls!”

Combine it with
1 small minced onion
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
and a reasonable amount of fresh ground pepper
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge.

Soak 1/2 ounce of rice vermicelli noodles – bean thread noodles, glass noodles, whatever you want to call them, just give ‘em a tepid water bath for 20 minutes.

Grate enough fresh ginger to yield 1 teaspoon – if it helps, I’m 5’7, weigh something in the neighborhood of 140 pounds and one of my thumbs is equivalent to the amount of ginger called for in this recipe.

Get out a big saucepan – like 4 quarts big – and heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Toss in the ginger and 1/3 cup of long grain, uncooked white rice. Stir for a minute or two until the rice puffs up a bit and smells good. (If it starts to turn golden, don’t wait around for it to puff up, because odds are it won’t – no biggie.)

Add 7 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, throw a lid halfway on, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, thin-slice enough lemongrass to yield a tablespoon. Forget about thumbs, if you strip off the tough outer leaves, the bottom third of a stalk ought to do you.

Mince two large cloves of garlic (which, I totally interpret to mean three.)

Heat another tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small skillet, and fry the lemongrass and garlic over low heat for a minute or two, just enough to release the fragrance and give it the beginnings of a tan.

When the timer sounds, add the lemongrass mixture to the broth, along with
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Drain the rice vermicelli , chop it into 2-inch lengths, and throw that in too.
Bring it back to a boil.

Transfer the marinated salmon to the bridal tureen.
Pour the boiling broth over the salmon. Wait, aren’t you going to cook it!? Hell no! Now be quiet, or I'll get distracted and scald my arm off.

Naturally, you will have budgeted your time in such a way that you’re not running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to pull together a garnish plate consisting of
2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts, chopped fine
2 thin-sliced scallions
A handful of shredded cilantro
And some sort of hot sauce, though yesterday, I found I preferred it without.

Yields six servings, which was the perfect amount for me and Greg.

Little fool thinks the adults’ food is “nasty”. Of course, he also said a certain female classmate is his favorite because she gives him “nasty” kisses, so I’m a bit stumped as to the math, here.

Here's wherefrom I got the original: