Fa la la la laarb

              This was the last decent meal I cooked for my family 4 days ago.  

After getting my formal job offer the 28th of September, I finally started work this week.  I had orientation on Monday---o.k. I did make steak for dinner that night.  I had to call Sophie on my way home to ask her to turn on the oven and cut the brussels sprouts for me so that hardly counts.  After spending 20 minutes on hold and another 20 on the phone with the Maryland Board of Nursing I got home a lot later than planned.  Why do government agencies lose things for months only to "find" them less than 24 hours after you call to ask them why your license hasn't been issued yet?  You know, that license you applied for 10 weeks ago.

Despite all the red tape and the frustration of learning yet another electronic medical record system, it is wonderful to be seeing patients again.  I will have to do a little meal planning to avoid Sophie subsisting on the all-ramen all the time diet.  She has to register for her high school courses for 9th grade already!  I don't know if it has to do with our travel history or her love for anime, but she is considering taking Japanese to meet her foreign language requirement.

We are hosting a Christmas party for Ian's Baylor classmates, and my kitchen counter is covered with macaron waiting to be baked and filled with milk chocolate ganache.  I think I am going to do David Chang's bo ssam and let people hack off pork at will.  Ian was disappointed that I forgot to order egg nog in our milk delivery this week, but honestly, you might as well drink melted ice cream.  The gluttony has to stop somewhere.

This recipe for laarb adapted from Mark Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World" is a great way to lighten up your holiday feasting.  Bittman calls for mincing the meat.  I used ground pork (80% lean).  This is the only ground meat recipe that Sophie has liked to date.

Laarb

1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken thighs, pork shoulder or beef tenderloin

1 clove garlic (I used two)

salt and black pepper to taste

1 tsp sugar or to taste

1 TBS fish sauce

juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup loosely packed mixed herbs like cilantro, basil, mint or Thai basil

1 sliced shallot (I didn't use this)

1 small fresh chile, optional

Ground toasted rice (dry toast rice in a skillet over medium heat until golden, then grind in a coffee grinder into a powder--Bittman calls for sticky rice, I used jasmine with good results). Don't skip this, you can grind up a bunch and it will keep if stored in an airtight container. You can sprinkle on salads if you don't make another batch of laarb soon.

Lettuce for wrapping

If you are mincing your own meat (show-off), mince the garlic along with it.  If you are using ground meat (slacker) just mix in the garlic after you mince it.  Lightly oil a wok or skillet and heat over medium high heat.  Add the minced meat mixture and season immediately with salt/pepper and pinches of sugar.  Cook until the meat browns a bit.  Transfer to a medium salad bowl and toss with lime juice and fish sauce, adjust seasonings to taste.  Add chopped herbs and shallot/chile if using.  To serve, spoon into lettuce leaves, top with a little ground toasted rice.  I threw some sliced cucumber in ours too. Since I didn't add chile, Ian and I dotted our wraps with a little Sriracha.  We ate that whole bowl between the three of us.