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Bean Sprout Salad with Five Spice Beef

October 29, 2009

Recipe: Bean Sprout Salad with Five Spice Beef


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“If you were a pickle,” my husband asked me the other night as he pulled a jar out of the fridge. “What would you be…sweet, half sour, or sour?”

I’m used to my husband occasionally asking such questions and I seriously considered my response before answering. “Sweet,” I said, although truthfully, I was feeling half sour.  This sort of response is typical of me, I think.

“I’d be sour,” my husband said without hesitation. As is typical of his personality, his declaration of sourness made him noticeably happy.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance in life – not just balancing sweet and sour inclinations, but also balancing dreamy hopes with reality, balancing a desire to be successful with a desire not to live at a frenetic pace, balancing the things in life I have to do with the things in life I want to do. Balance is very hard to achieve, a constant struggle for most of us. I think one of the reasons I find cooking so relaxing is that achieving balance (sweet vs sour, pungent vs aromatic, bitter vs pleasant) can be as simple as following a recipe.

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Vietnamese Salad with Five Spice Beef

There is a little Vietnamese restaurant I go to occasionally with my husband and brother, the type of place that has no sign out front, about ten tables that are always full and food that arrives at the table about six minutes after you order it. The food is simple but has a complex array of flavors: spicy, sweet, sour, pungent. Since this restaurant is way across town and we don’t get there often, I started tinkering with ingredients, trying to re-create something similar at home. Bean Sprout Salad with Five Spice Beef is what I came up with and it totally hit the spot – a few weeks ago it was the perfect late-night meal while watching an episode of Mad Men. (which is why the lighting in my photo is not so great…my camera fails miserably with no natural light.)

It’s almost embarrassing how happy eating a delicious late dinner on the couch while watching a favorite show makes me. I guess that’s all about balance too. One too many dinners in front of the TV is not a good thing; it’s depressing, actually. But every now and again, it’s one of life’s great pleasures.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. dana permalink
    October 30, 2009 4:46 pm

    not a meat eater, but wonder if i can replace the beef with tofu… hmmmm.
    great post. loving how you are mixing recipes with insights from daily life!

    • October 30, 2009 5:43 pm

      Yep, you could totally skip the meat and just use tofu and I think this dish would still be great.

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