The smell of small Italian eggplants simmering with ripe vine tomatoes, garlic and onions, gave a wonderful summery feeling to the entire house.The back door was open and let a nice breathe in. It was still cool at that time of the day; I knew that the heat would hit later on, something I was not looking forward to.
I thought of my mum as I dreamily stirred the vegetables, back and forth: she taught me about the provençal dish I was preparing for my next contribution to the Boston Globe’s Seasons column.
I looked at the clock. I actually stared at it then. Was it already 10:20 am? How could I have not noticed the time? I only had two minutes to get ready before hopping in the car and drive to my acupuncture appointment across town. Hopefully, I would still be on time, traffic allowing. I switched off the stove, closed the back door and turned off the fan. I would tidy the mess when I returned.
I did not yet know that I was going to bump into my friend L. either.
“Oh I just left you a voicemail,” she told me when she saw me come out of the room where I had had my treatment. “What are you doing now?”
“I am going home. But why don’t you come at home when you are done, and have lunch with me?”
It was quite lovely and spontaneous to imagine that we were going to have a girl’s lunch.
I made a quick stop at the store to pick a few things for my afternoon photo shoot, and then I started to plan lunch. Easy, we would eat pasta with the pistachio pesto I had prepared in the morning, the eggplant dish I was planning to finish, and an arugula salad.
“Oh that’s funny,” L. said when she walked to the stove and saw the eggplant dish . “It very much looks like something we eat in Russia too.”
How interesting indeed to see that some dishes are prepared in many different countries, with tiny variations, but often bearing a different name.
We sat down and enjoyed the food, while chatting away. The heat outside made us feel lazy.
“It’s yummy.” L. said when she was done with her serving. “But what about your noodle soup? When are you going to post it?”
“What noodle soup?”
“The rice noodle soup with coconut milk you showed me the other day.”
Oh yes, I remembered then. She was inquiring about the soup I had prepared a few weeks before, with fresh large rice noodles I had been so happy to find.
“I promise, I will post it soon.”
Have you eaten Drunken Noodles before? I am personally a big fan of the fried noodle Thai dish. So much so that, well determined to prepare the dish at home, I once again set myself to go on a food quest to my nearby Asian store — I feel blessed to have it — but this time to buy large rice noodles used in the recipe. There, I’ve learned that you buy this type of noodles fresh and not dry, like the thinner ones used for Pad Thai. I even asked K., my Vietnamese friend, for a recipe on how to make them. So perhaps one day if I feel ambitious and courageous, I will start on that project.
It is really P. who is the one who made drunken noodles for us the first time. He insisted and I was more than happy to let him do it. His first attempt made a delightful meal for us. The second time, I made the dish: we ate it with friends on the back patio on a hot Friday night. We are both still trying to perfect the recipe — anyone with a recipe you love, send it along! — and while this happens, I’ve kept returning to the Asian store to buy many more bags of rice noodles. In fact, I’ve pretty much become addicted to them.
I am a real amatrice of Asian food. One day, I know I will visit Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand, to discover its many mysteries, meet its people and wander its markets in search of inspiration for all the senses. I am keen to discover new scents and flavors, and to understand how to cook the food better. One day, I know it will happen. But in the meantime, while not an expert of Asian food by any means, I am just curious to try and experiment their cuisine in my own kitchen — oh yes, spring rolls are high on the list too!
One dish that I particularly love to make is Rice Noodle Soup. Simple, tasty, refreshing and easy to accommodate with what you like: I never tire of this type of soup.
Since I’ve been left with many rice noodle leftovers from my frequent visits to the Asian store, I’ve recently made many batches of this delicious soup: ideal for lunch, enjoyed alone or with a friend, always eaten with chopsticks, and a side salad.
If you make the soup like I did, use thinly sliced pork, soft tofu, sugar snap peas and Thai basil. However, for easy substitutions, and just as delicious, I would suggest to replace the meat with shrimps, add a few bunches of baby bok choy and bean sprouts too, and even some fresh corn kernels — why not? In all cases, this soup is a winner for its simplicity to toss together, and the wonderful aromas it leaves dans la bouche (in your mouth).
And to make a completely lovely lunch, think about using the beautiful summer fruit we have plenty of these days, like fresh apricots and red currants, and make a seasonal open tart, like I did — I used a crust made with almond butter and olive oil, really lovely. Not Asian, alors pas du tout, but eh, I am French or what?
I am really thankful that my friend L. reminded me of the soup. I think I really had to share its complete goodness with you.
I also know what to prepare next time she comes over for lunch.
- 10.5 oz large fresh rice noodles
- 5.5 oz pork, sliced thinly
- 1 lemongrass stick, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated finely
- 3.5 oz soft tofu, diced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 + 3/4 cups coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- Thai basil, loosely cut
- 1 spring onion, sliced
- 1.5 cups snap sugar peas
- In a large pot, combine the chicken stock, coconut milk and add the lemongrass and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the lime juice and fish sauce, and continue to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes — at this point, you can decide to filter the soup if you prefer to remove the lemongrass slices.
- Add the noodles and pork and cook until the meat is fork tender — only a few minutes.
- Finish with adding the sugar snap peas. Cook for 2 minutes — I like to keep the vegetables crunchy, so you might want to adjust the cooking time accordingly to your taste.
- Add the tofu and spring onion. Season to taste, if necessary, and serve in large bowls. Top with Thai basil and eat with chop sticks, of course!
- 300 g de nouilles de riz larges
- 150 g de porc, émincé
- 1 bâton de citronnelle, coupé en rondelles
- 2 gousses d’ail, pelées et râpées finement
- 100 g de tofu, coupé en gros cubes
- 500 ml de bouillon de poule
- 400 ml de lait de coco non sucré
- Jus d’1/2 citron vert
- 1 càs de sauce nuoc mam
- Basilic Thaï, ciselé
- 1 oignon tige, émincé
- 125 g de pois gourmands
- Dans une cocotte, mélangez le bouillon de poule avec le lait de coco. Ajoutez la citronnelle et l’ail. Amenez à ébullition et faites mijotez pendant 5 minutes.
- Ajoutez ensuite le jus de citron vert et la sauce nuoc mam, et poursuivez la cuisson pendant 1 à 2 minutes — aàce stade, vous pouvez filtrer la soupe pour retirer la citronnelle si elle vous gêne.
- Ajoutez les nouilles de riz et la viande et faites cuire pendant quelques minutes, jusqu’à ce que la viande soit tendre.
- Ajoutez enfin les pois gourmands. Cuisez pendant 2 à 3 minutes — j’aime garder les légumes croquants, donc ajustez la cuisson comme vous préfèrez.
- Ajoutez le tofu et l’oignon tige. Rectifiez l’assaisonnement si nécessaire, et versez la soupe dans de grands bols. Garnissez avec du basilic thaï et mangez avec des baguettes, bien sûr !
I love your “quick lunches”. That tart is simply amazing, such stunning photographs. Thanks for sharing this.
A perfect lunch! Everything looks ever so perfect, delicious and refreshing! Your pictures always amaze me…
Hello! and pleasure to meet you! I’m Italian and I have to get compliments for the blog! your photos are wonderful attention to detail and romantic!
I do not know speak very good English, sorry!
I can’t wait to make this soup!
oh all these look really good! i love the flowers you have in the set up. if i’m not wrong, these fresh large rice noodles (a little oily too right?) you mean are what we call kway tiao in singapore. there are even wider ones!
btw, maybe before you visit all those countries you’ve listed, you can come over to singapore to try out a little of everything first. =D
Magnifique, dommage que tu n’aies pas mis toutes les recettes!
I love your blog and I am very inspired by your love of food and beautiful photos. Thank you for nice receipies, I bet you will publish a cookbook one day? I would buy it 🙂
Kind regards from Oslo, Norway
En effet, dommage que les recettes n’y soient pas toutes… Mais en tout cas, votre blog est magnifique : les photos, les recettes, bravo !
Eating Asia blog (in case you have not heard of it) is fantastic for folks who adore Asian food and who can’t travel to Asia (Robyn makes it feel you there, smelling, tasting all the wonderful food, with great photos taken on location that show the steps that the authentic cooks use):
that looks so crisp and clean and utterly delicious!
These recipes look wonderful–you’ve inspired me to go to my asian market! Thanks!
Noodles soup & spring rolls are my all time favourites. In fact, just 2 days ago, I posted my Vietnamese Spring Rolls recipe http://www.mycookinghut.com/2008/07/29/vietnamese-spring-rolls/
Just so simple to make yet so delicious 🙂
wow these all look so delicious…springs rolls are really nostalgic for me. Where do you shop for groceries in boston?..I live here too!
isn’t the Philippines not on your list? :o( I just happen to be from there.. your spring rolls are too pretty to be eaten! :o)
I am half Asian (my other half is Dutch 🙂 and cooking Asian to me is what making Tarte Tatin to you…. I can tell you: your springrolls look absolutely lovely and your recipe for noodle soup is one I am going to try !!
What a wonderful lunch… I love the springrolls and the soup looks so light and fragrant. The tart, well what can I say: the perfect end to yet another gorgeous meal.
Everything looks beautiful Bea!
Will you have a chance to post the recipe for the open tart? I would also love to see your recipe for the Strawberry-Rhubarb Tarts from May 4. They look so delicious!
as ever…your work is just superb! the noodle soup looks really appetizing!
ah, you make asian food look so nice and refreshing! the presentation is as good as many restaurants here. be sure to visit hong kong too on your future asia trip! i promise, it’s a heaven for all things food! 😀
the spring rolls remind me of my first encounter with rice paper. i didn’t know you had to soak them in water first, and i just wrapped them with chicken, oranges and lettuce etc…and it ended tasting rather strange! it was only after visiting a viet restaurant till i knew how to prepare them properly!
Great post like usually ! Fresh and colourful !
wow~~ love spring rolls
bea~ come on to see my cute dog:)
I am sorry I will never get to be invited over to your place for an impromptu lunch! Such a gorgeous and delicious one, too.
Hi. I just discovered your blog and am impressed with your culinary prowess. Your noodle soup looks good too. You might just want to add Singapore on your list of must visit Asian cities too! We do have such a cosmopolitan lifestly and the culinary choices are a plenty. 🙂
light, gorgeous… and the seasonal galettes… fabulous bea!
I can’t help being amazed at the things you cook! They are simple yet delicious and healthy!! They look so good too!! I’m glad that you are making good use of fresh rice noodles and tofu…i’m sure they tasted sublime with the open tart you made!!
stunning as always. i also love your honestly, as myself i am not yet at total ease with Asian cooking 🙂
Hi hi all,
Merci merci! And btw, of course I would love to visit the Philippines and Singapore, or China. My list is soooooo long 😉
I love your blog:-)
Could you please post the recipe of Apricot and Red Currant Open Tart, Almond and Olive Oil Crust? It looks so delicious!
i second that!
Hey Béa, I found your chocolate raspberry cake with the chocolate ginger mousse in Desserts Magazine online. I do believe it is one of the most beautiful desserts I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it tastes wonderful too.
What a perfect summer meal! *droooooooooool*
Hi Béa, J’aime beaucoup ton blog. Your pictures are amazing, my mouth starts watering every time I see them …
Hm, maybe you should add one more country to your list : INDONESIA. I’m Indonesian who lives in Paris, and Indonesian food is very very delicious, especially if you like food which is prepared with contrasting flavors.
I hope to be able to have the fruit tartlet recipe up soon. Need some time to catch up! 😉
I can’t wait to make this for my man – who happens to be Vietnamese and will love this soup!
However, I can’t tear my eyes away from the picture of your Apricot and Red Currant Open Tart, Almond and Olive Oil Crust – will you be posting this recipe anytime soon? Or have I just searched for it incorrectly and it’s actually already been posted? Salivating just thinking about it!!!!
Nice and clean photos! great shots!
Your photography and prose are delightful!
i have now spent two hours tasting your images and words and colors, and am slowly emerging again, not so very hungry, but so very happy. thank you for sharing all this loveliness.
Wow. Your photography work is absolutely divine! Do you mind if I ask – what camera do you use currently?
I love soup and for some odd reason especially in the summer. Stunning photos!
I, too, would love to know how you made the almond crust for the tarts! I just picked some gorgeous berries and this would be perfect, since I am trying to bake without gluten.
The tart recipe! The tart recipe! (Please)
A quand la recette de cette superbe tarte?
C’est souvent que je fais les visites a ton site pour les idées, moi aussi j’adore la cuisine d’asie, tu pense je vais trouver tous qu’il faut a Toulouse?
I noticed that even without the dotty napkins, your photos seem to bubble over with dots. Lovely.
Wow! I’m so happy to have discovered your blog. Your recipes sound phenomenal (I haven’t tried cooking one yet!) and the presentation is just exquisite. That apricot tart looks to die for! I couldn’t help but notice your mention of Drunken Noodles – it’s a dish we did at Kitchen Caravan just last week, although we focused on using local, seasonal ingredients. It could be worth a try!
Is that apricot tart recipe up anywhere? I’d love to try my hand at that.
The more I read the recipe the hungrier I get! This is going on the weekend menu! Love it!
Thanks again everyone. I will have to put a post with the tart recipe indeed, won’t I? 😉
Anastasia, thanks for the recipe. I will make sure to check it out!
You blog is stunningly gorgeous and so inspiring-! It captures the beauty of life in the simple pleasures such as nature and food. I am so happy to have found it!
Wow, I just found your blog. How incredibly amazing, and now I want to go downstairs and cook! Would you mind sharing that eggplant recipe you talk about in this article? We have lots of it, and we are getting tired of grilled eggplant. I have to try your soup too. It sounds delicious.
the eggplant recipe will be available in the Boston Globe on August 27th. Check their food section then! I will post a link to it when it is up.
Hooo je ne trouve pas la recette des douceurs Apricot and Red Currant Open Tart, Almond and Olive Oil Crust… Dommage ! Vos photos sont vraiment magnifiques. C’est votre metier donc je ne n’imagine pas y arriver aussi bien, cependant auriez-vous quelques conseils a me donner pour faire de bonne prises de vue culinaire ?
merci !! Et bravo pour votre blog tout y semble si bon !
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Cette soupe a l’air tout simplement délicieuse et j’adore la toute première photo, pleine de fraîcheur et de douceur…
Hi Bea! I am a new fan of your blog. I just made this for my mother day, and we both raved about it. I made a few modifications–I added a bit of ginger and sambal olek for some spice, and balanced out the flavour with a teaspoon of sugar which i felt was missing to complete the dish. I also used tiger prawns because I couldn’t find a good piece of pork.
I found out about 6 months ago that I was celiac, and I adore your cooking and photos that bring such joie to gluten free cooking.
Hi Bea, im 13 years old and and doing an assignment on cooking a dinner for my familly. Just want to thank you for the food you have put on this website. I cooked the Rice Noodle Soup, with Pork, Snap Sugar Peas and Tofu. I’ll let you know what score i get. If i get a bad mark I don’t think that it’s any of your falt, there might be a few other reasons. Thanks again.
I love Rice noodle soup. especially Vietnamese Rice noodles. IT’s Pho, But making traditional Pho is very hard. And need a lot of time. But now i found a new product can help me deal with busy life. More addition, it’s gluten free and low sodium also. It noodle soup called Happy Pho – a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup that’s so flavorful and takes 10 mins to cook. I add mushroom, spinach and have a steaming bowl of soup. I came across them at Rainbow Grocery but think you can find them in other Northern California stores and online at amazon.com – http://staranisefoods.com/find-us.aspx
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