i have almost zero food in my fridge, which is odd for someone who likes to cook, and often at that. i guess i can attribute this to working around food and eating at least two of my threeish to fourish meals of the day on the job. but when i get the yen to make something super delicious at home, i’ve got to go out shopping for the items specifically. and because i’m usually just cooking for 1, i’m left with a bunch of really odd items with no seeming correlation between them. arborio rice, chickpeas, pancetta, ginger root, you get the idea (although i could definitely make something with that stuff). the other night i got in around 9pm from work and started scouring the contents of my fridge, which i knew to be an exercise in failure. shrimp. cilantro. carrots. wait a minute…don’t i have a package of rice wrappers somewhere?
i only use double parrot. those single parrot wrappers are rubbish.
and that’s when it hit me, i had almost the exact makings of nime chow. i started pulling things out of cabinets and it only kept getting better. fish sauce, rice vinegar, romaine, vermicelli. shortly, i had my mise en place assembled and ready for action. i don’t have much counter space in my tiny kitchen, so i painstakingly have to make these one at a time. i let the rice paper soak in room temp water on a plate for about 1 minute or just under. once that is pliable (you’ll get a feel for just how soft they have to be after you do one or two), i transfer to another surface and load in the ingredients, which, depending on your recipe, or in my case, what i had to work with, can vary. the most common versions that i have seen include: lettuce, thai basil or cilantro, shrimp and vermicelli. i threw in some julienned carrot for good measure. a couple of years ago one of my brothers got me an OXO mandoline for christmas and all i have to say is, love. it. loveit. make sure your ingredients are centered left to right and just a bit lower than center on the rice paper. i fold in my sides first, just about 1.5″ in, but there are actually differing schools of thought on this. now that i had my nime chow assembled, i needed a dipping sauce. i really like some heat, so i decided to make a nuoc mam and added a bit of chili oil.i didn’t use a recipe for this. i just remembered a really good one i had at a vietnamese place i frequent and tried to recreate the same flavors. however, i’m sure the interweb is teeming with great nuoc mam recipes if you need them. one word of advice, DO NOT, burn the fish sauce while heating. i have done this before and my entire place smelled like the hold of a japanese fishing trawler for at least the next week. you don’t really need to give it much flame anyway, you’re just incorporating sugar till dissolved. and that’s it. it took me about 20 minutes to make an awesome dinner with random nonsense. im really hoping that my pantry and fridge align next week to make something equally ridiculous, perhaps osso buco?
that magic moment when you look in your fridge at 9:15 on a tuesday night and say, yeah, i could make some nime chow with what i've got right now.