Vietnamese Greens

By now, those of you who read this blog regularly probably know that I have a thing for vegetables. Let me clarify: when I say vegetables, I don’t mean salad. Salad is well and good, and I enjoy it often enough. But it just doesn’t have the same capacity to excite me as, say, a big plate of roasted kabocha squash and onions spiked with shichimi togarashi, a velvety soup of puréed carrots and leeks, or a tangle of smoky-sweet grilled peppers.

Sometimes I eat so many vegetables that I’m unable to finish my meal, as happened at lunch yesterday. The culprit in this case was a plate of sautéed brussels sprouts, caramelized around the edges and bursting with sweetness. Soon enough, I realized I had little room for the rest of my lunch, including the delicious sour-sweet kumquats that I’ve been popping into my mouth all week. What can I say? The brussels sprouts were good.

In comparison, the vegetable dish I want to tell you about today may seem rather mundane: stir-fried greens. No doubt some of you are thinking, “It’s the week before Christmas, and you’re writing about spinach?” Well, yes and no.

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A Simple Lunch

Tofu salad and stir-fry

Lately, I’ve been working on some writing that is not for this blog, and it’s been consuming a great deal of my time.  There are days when I’m so busy tapping away at the computer that I almost forget to eat lunch.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I realized it had been hours since breakfast and stumbled into the kitchen, weak-kneed and lightheaded.

After staring into the fridge for a few minutes, ideas for two dishes began to take shape: one would be a bold stir-fry, the other a cool, refreshing salad.

I pulled out some leftover pork belly, a mildly hot green pepper, ginger, half a leek, silken tofu, some miso, and a packet of red pickled ginger.  From the cabinet, I retrieved ground toasted sesame seeds, mirin, sake, shoyu, and sesame oil.  On the counter were garlic and a container of tiny, sweet cherry tomatoes.  I grabbed those, too.

Then I set to work chopping, slicing, mincing, and mixing.

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