So much of this life we live is about timing. When is the right time to change jobs, to change careers, to change cities? When is the right time to eat dinner? When is the right time to get to a concert so you’re not too early but you don’t miss too much of the fun? When should you book a vacation? This month? This year? When you have enough money saved up? (yes.) When is the right time to reach out to an old friend who you’ve lost touch with? When might they reach out to you?
When I was student teaching 3rd grade, we always asked the students to tell us what time it was, rather than telling them when asked. This lesson, which was fully integrated into the day, not just the math block, helped them learn to tell time, sure, but also helped them learn the value of time. When is lunch? In 25 minutes. How long do I have left to read? The rest of your life, hopefully, but for right now, 17 more minutes. Teaching them to make these little calculations will help them be on time, but it will also help them know when is the best time.
But how do we make timing decisions that are less about minutes and more about the right season of our lives?
I have a very dear, and very old friend who is currently living in Thailand with her husband. She and I quite literally grew up together, and as people are wont to do as they grow up, we grew apart. I don’t have a single childhood memory without her in it–she and I were inseparable, often found meeting in the middle of the street, barefoot, or choreographing a dance to Seal’s Kissed by a Rose in her parents bedroom. I saw my first movie, Selena, unsupervised by adults with her, much to both our parents’ chagrin. However, as time ticked on, so did we.
I thought about this friend often, keeping up with her life through Facebook and when I saw her family back home. But about a month ago, she reached out to me, asking about my life, talking about the past, and why we grew apart. It was so kind of her, and I’ve so enjoyed getting reacquainted, but most of all, the timing was right. Years later, when she found herself with her love in Thailand, and I was embarking on a new adventure with K here in Pittsburgh, we arrived at the right time to become friends again. And it has been awesome.
I’m a planner, big time and tend to take things at a running leap instead of one step at a time. I borrow trouble not only from tomorrow, but from next decade. Lately it has been a daily exercise in restraint to make myself live in the moment, be grateful for what I have now, and trust that timing takes care of all things. Little reminders like my friend reaching out from the other side of the world helps.
These noodles are probably a far cry from authentic Thai food, but they remind me of my friend nonetheless. They’re a little spicy, a little sour, a little salty–all my favorite things. You might be a little turned off by some of the ingredients (hello, fish sauce), but trust me. They’re as good as any take out and a lot faster too.
Start with the chili-infused vinegar. This is supposed to be used as a garnish, which I thought was weird, but it is so good.
In a jar, add vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and some sliced red chilies (I used red jalapenos, but Thai chilies would obviously be more authentic). Pop the top on the jar and shake it up, then let it sit for at least an hour before serving.
Meanwhile, prep your stir fry situation. The best part about stir fry is that it moves fast, so it’s super important to have everything ready to go when you start cooking.
Garlic, ginger and scallions are minced, minced, and sliced on the bias.
Next soak your rice noodles in very hot water, until they are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how hot the water is.When the noodles are soft, drain them and return them to the bowl.
Lightly beat 2 eggs and set aside. Mix up a quick sauce of soy sauce, fish sauce, honey and black pepper. Set that aside, too, and you’re ready to stir fry.
In a wok, add some vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat.
When the oil is very hot, add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring often to ensure that the garlic doesn’t burn.Add the noodles and toss to combine and separate them. They should be nicely coated in the oil.
Push the noodles off to the side of the wok and add the eggs. Lightly scramble them while gently mixing them into the noodles. Next add the soy sauce mixture and toss to combine.
The whole thing should take no longer than 5 minutes. Once everything is combined, remove it from the heat and top with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve in bowls with a few dots of Sriracha hot sauce and the chili-infused vinegar on the side.
The noodles themselves are delicious. They’re slightly salty from the soy and have a nice bite from the garlic and ginger. The fish sauce, which is completely undetectable, I promise, gives it a nice earthy background that would be missed if it were left out.
When topped with a couple of spoonfuls of the chili-infused vinegar, though, the dish sings. The vinegar is slightly spicy and obviously very tart, but when applied to the noodles it makes the dish balanced. Vinegar as a garnish sounds odd, I know, but it adds just the touch of acidity that this dish needs.
The noodles are just as good cold the next day, with a little touch of vinegar and a dash more of soy sauce to loosen them up. Also because I can’t help myself. Soy sauce is my life.
This super quick meal is easy enough for a weeknight dinner on the go. If you’re looking to shake up your routine, this is the way.
And remember (I’m looking at you, Hatsie), timing is everything! Maybe today’s the right day to do that thing you’ve been waiting on. I don’t know what that thing is; maybe it’s joining a gym, signing up for that class, cleaning out your closet (oomph), or reaching out to a friend, but whatever it is, just maybe today is right.
Here’s the recipe!
Thai-Style Noodle Stir Fry with Chili-Infused Vinegar
For the Chili-Infused Vinegar:
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (found in the Asian Foods section of most grocery stores)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 3 red chilies, such as jalapeños, or more to taste. If you can find Thai chilies, that would be best!
- Slice the chilies, seeds and all, very thin. Add them to a jar. Add the sugar, fish sauce, and vinegar. Secure the top of the jar and shake very well until everything is mixed and the sugar has dissolved. Let sit for at least an hour.
- Serve with Thai-Style Noodles.
For the Thai-Style Noodles:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- A couple of turns of your black pepper grinder
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced on the bias
- 1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 8 ounces wide rice noodles, cooked according to package directions, and drained. These also can be found in the Asian Foods section. If you can’t find them, linguine or fettuccine would work as well.
- Chopped cilantro, for serving
- Chili-infused vinegar, for serving
- Sriracha hot sauce, for serving
- Get all of your prep work ready. The garlic, ginger, and scallions should be ready to go, your eggs should be beaten and set aside. Mix together the soy sauce, honey, black pepper and fish sauce in a small bowl and set that aside as well. Make sure the noodles are cooked and drained and have them at the ready.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over medium high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the garlic, ginger and scallions and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and toss to coat until all the noodles are separated and coated in the oil, about 1 minute more.
- Move the noodles to the side and add the eggs, scrambling them lightly as you mix them into the noodles. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to combine.
- Remove noodles from the heat and serve in bowls with chopped cilantro on top and Sriracha hot sauce if desired. Garnish with a few teaspoons of the chili-infused vinegar.