Hi there. It’s been a while. A long while.
So where have I been?
That’s a great question–one with a whole lot of details and answers. The short version is I started a new job and it ate. my. lunch. for the first year. I didn’t do nearly as much cooking I as used to and, when I did cook, it was a lot of the same thing over and over. I certainly didn’t have the energy or desire to cook, photograph, edit, and write a post. My brain was completely zapped in a way that often left me sitting in a chair in my living room, in the dark and without the tv, my phone, or music. Drained, overwhelmed, and stunned don’t even begin to describe it. The term I’ve come to use is “professional vertigo.”
My first year came to a close just before spring break. My second year kicked off in the face of Coronavirus, school closures, and figuring out how in the world to turn on a dime and continue giving our kids and families some semblance of what they were used to. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but there have been silver linings.
One of those silver linings for me has been working from home. I love it. I feel more like myself than I have in an excruciatingly long time. It often surprises people when I say I’m fairly introverted. I love public speaking. I don’t mind one bit being vocal or being in charge of a group. My introversion isn’t the kind that looks like shyness. My introversion is the kind that leaves me completely drained by the noises and overstimulation of the constant go go go lifestyle. I crave quiet time, alone time, and the space to just be. In that way, working from home, even with the stress of figuring out at-home learning and all that is going on in our country and in our world, has been therapeutic for me. I’ve had more time to cook, work out, learn, reflect, and grow. I’ve felt stronger in my body and in my convictions.
I’ve also rediscovered how much I love cooking. In the early days of sheltering at home, I chose new recipes to try. Some I made and loved, appreciating each step in a new way, as self care and nourishment for my body, my heart, and my soul. Other I put ingredients for on my shopping list, only to return home empty handed when a key ingredient was unavailable at the store. I also found myself so thankful I already knew my way around the kitchen because I wasn’t stressed about restaurants closing and freezer cases of prepared foods being empty. I could easily adapt, something I’ve long enjoyed doing for friends and family with allergies and sensitivities. In fact, I made several iterations of this roast salmon with sweet chipotle glaze, no-butter chicken, and weeknight tortellini soup.
This recipe falls into that last category. The original recipe calls for ground chicken, something my store was completely out of. No ground pork either. No problem–ground turkey was readily available and even on sale. As is the case with many recipes calling for a ground white meat, it was an easy substitution. I often find going between chicken and turkey doesn’t even require much of an adjustment of seasoning.
Whatever ground meat you prefer and are able to find, I highly recommend you work this simple, healthy dish into your rotation. I hope you make it as an act of caring for yourself and your family, if you have family in your home.
Chicken, Turkey, or Pork Larb Bowls
slightly adapted from Gaby Dalkin, What’s Gaby Cooking
For the quick pickles:
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 TBSP rice vinegar
For the rice:
2 c. water
1 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 c. jasmine rice
zest and juice of one lime
For the chicken, turkey, or pork:
1 TBSP vegetable oil
5 oz. spinach or kale, chopped and, if using kale, deveined
1 lb. ground meat of your choice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly slice
2-3 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce
1-2 TBSP sambal oelek
1 TBSP brown sugar
fresh mint, basil, and cilantro to garnish
- To make the quick pickles, toss the cucumbers, red onion, and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside to marinate while you cook the chicken.
- Start the rice by combining the water, coconut milk, and salt in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Add the rice and bring back to a low simmer. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook undisturbed for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Turn off the heat and let the rice steam for another 5 to 10 minutes, until fully cooked and soft. Uncover, fluff, and toss in the lime zest and juice.
- Meanwhile, cook the meat by heating the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach or kale and cook until wilted, 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add the ground meat to the same skillet and cook, breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring frequently until no pink remains, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and scallions and cook to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, sambal oelek, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Return the cooked greens to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and reduce the heat to low until ready to serve.
- To serve, divide the rice among four bowls, followed by the chicken and kale, pickles, and plenty of fresh mint, basil, and cilantro. Serve immediately.
yield: 4 servings