A friend of mine visited me today from the East Bay. He is an artist and he also loves to cook. We talked about how we both needed to make things with our hands or we’d go crazy. When I feel antsy I reupholster my chairs. Or I cook. When I was living in LA, my brother and I made most of our own furniture — dining table, bar stools, beds… That was how antsy we were. Or perhaps that was how inspired and creative we felt. I suppose sometimes feeling antsy is the precursor of creativity. I remember being happy when we were making the furniture. We were creating something while learning how to do it. There was no deadline and no one judging us. Even mistakes that we made became part of the beauty of our work. I would get up in the morning with my eyes barely open and stumble to the table or the stool that we were making and begin hand sanding the wood before I was fully awake. When my arms became tired, I would make my morning tea. Not at all a bad way to start the day. It’s a luxury and a therapy to invest wholeheartedly in building something one doesn’t need to sell.
My friend and I chatted as we prepared a very simple but absolutely delicious lunch together.
Basil Minced Turkey in Lettuce Cup & in Rice Paper
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green onion
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon corn starch
10 oz lean ground turkey (you can also use minced chicken breast)
1 red chili pepper, seeded and minced (adjust according to how spicy you want the dish to be)
1/4 red sweet pepper chopped
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 big bunch Thai basil leaves, lower stems removed
2 – 4 lettuce cups
2 – 4 Vietnamese spring rolls skin (rice paper)
Mix ground turkey with wine, soy sauce and corn starch. Let it marinade for 10 minutes.
Add the oil into a heated wok, follow by the chopped garlic and green onion. Sauté the garlic and green onion until aromatic, then add the ground turkey into the wok.
When the meat turns opaque, add the chili pepper, sweet pepper, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir to combine well. Toss in the basil leaves and do a few quick stirs until the basil leaves wilted and you smell the exotic fragrance of the basil leaves. Mix in pine nuts before serving in lettuce cups or wrap in the rice paper.
Put a piece of dry rice paper or spring roll skin on a dinner plate or other clean flat surface, pour a small amount of boiling water over it to soften it before wrapping.