Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lemongrass & Turmeric Noodles (Bun Xao Xa Nghe)

I left most of my family behind in Vietnam at the age of five when I took off for America with my eldest sister. Most of the earliest memories of my mother are in the kitchen where the scent of herbs were forever ingrained into my mind. Of all the smells and tastes that came from her kitchen, the one herb that stands out most is fresh turmeric. Most people are familiar with the powder form, but it is absolutely wonderful when fresh. My favorite dish is thin rice noodles stir-fried with fresh grated turmeric. This simple dish needs only a drizzle of oil for frying and salt and pepper to taste since turmeric is the star ingredient. Nothing compares with the fragrance that emanates from the kitchen when fresh turmeric hits a hot skillet.

We had a few turmeric plants at one of our houses in Hawaii and they produced the most beautiful flowers. Fresh turmeric rhizomes were aplenty at home in Honolulu, but it's scarce here in Florida. I have never seen fresh ones, not even frozen! If anyone knows where I can find some, please let me know!

Cravings for turmeric drove me to make bun xao xa nghe (stir-fried rice noodles with lemongrass and turmeric), which also included anything I had in the fridge and pantry.

I had a package of extra-firm tofu that came in four blocks that I cubed and fried in olive oil until golden to go with my noodles.

This was the mad result of my craving. I didn't have any thin noodles on hand and had to substitute with the fat ones that are normally used in noodle soups. In addition to the turmeric powder and tofu, the noodles were stir-fried with tons of fresh lemongrass and a bit of shallot, scallion, garlic, mushroom, shrimp, chili, sesame oil, salt, black pepper and of course a splash of fish sauce. Garnished with some fresh cilantro leaves, this was a complete meal. It was done in a flash, so no measuring was involved. I will write a full recipe when I get my hands on fresh turmeric. :)

For E, a photo of sunny Fort Lauderdale beach. :) I got sunburned because I was too lazy to slather on greasy sunblock. *sighs*


Anonymous said...

hello this is Alyssa .how is it going in boston?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm from Maryland and we get our fresh turmeric at the H-Mart, a Korean-owned Asian market. I don't know if they are a seasonal produce. Ours were from last Christmas. We store them in the freezer and they are still good. I used the fresh(frozen)turmeric in your Chicken with Lemongrass and Chili recipe just a few days ago. Very good, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tia,

I love your website with all the good dishes (recipes) + beautiful pics....LOVE IT. Hope all is well with you. Take care and keep up the good work!

PS. You just gave me an idea for dinner. Thanks!