It’s the Boyfriend’s birthday! Happy birthday to himmmmmm, happy birthday to himmmmmm, happy birthday, dear Boyfrienddd, happy birthday to you!! This year, I got the Boyfriend a bottle of fish sauce. (Just kidding, I got him a golf gadget and I can tell y’all that this early on his birthday because I gave it to him early and went to the par 3 course with him at the buttcrack of dawn on the Saturday morning after July 4*. What a great girlfriend am I?)
I am not doing that cheesy thing where I tell you all the wonderful things about the Boyfriend on his birthday. Just take my word for it — he gets to eat all the food from the leightogreato kitchen, and he’s so great that I still wind up the winner in the relationship. Cool?
Also, about that fish sauce. I love vietnamese food, but I’ve been skipping recipes that call for fish sauce for years. It’s scary and sounds weird, like it’s going to make my whole fridge stink. Then, last week, my friend Christina pointed to some at the grocery store and said she liked it. She was off-handed and casual and I tried to play it cool while I basically swiped all of the contents of the shelf into my basket. So now we have fish sauce and guess what? It’s awesome.
For example, I threw together this salad for dinner one night this week. The turkey was salty-sweet, the lettuce and mint were refreshing and crisp, the carrots were crunchy and tangy and the rice was carby (my highest compliment). I was home alone for dinner that night (the Boyfriend was at the driving range, even though New York was in the middle of a monsoon — before we move on, let’s reiterate that I am such an amazing girlfriend that I got my golf-obsessed boyfriend a swing analyzer for his birthday). Anyway, the salad was delicious for my solo dinner that night. And then, the next day, we had leftovers for lunch. And on the third day, when the lettuce was completely wilted, we had it like a dip at cocktail hour. It’s that 3-days-in-row kinda good.
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 T. vietnamese fish sauce
- 4 T. granulated sugar
- 3 T. water
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 c. cooked white rice
- 10 leaves of mint, chiffonade
- 1 pickled carrot (I used a combination of pickled carrot sticks and kale stems, leftover from my sriracha buttered shrimp lettuce wraps), chopped
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ½ serrano pepper, minced
- 1 pinch granulated sugar
- 2 T. vietnamese fish sauce
- 2 T. rice vinegar
- Combine the granulated sugar and 2 T. water in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until the sugar turns to a dark brown caramel, which should take about 8 minutes of a pretty vigorous simmer. Whisk the sugar water occasionally to make sure it's not too thin. When the caramel has darkened, remove from heat and whisk in the remaining 2 T. water until it's combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, caramel sauce, shallot, and fish sauce, and allow them all to marinate together for at least an hour. I left mine in the fridge all day while I was at work and it was perfect.
- Once the turkey has marinated, heat a skillet over medium high and cook the whole mixture until browned. It will take a while -- you have to cook out the all of the marinade. Once the marinade has cooked out, you can spread the turkey in a single layer on the skillet so it gets nice and brown on one side. That sugar will develop a nice, crunchy carmelized coat when the turkey browns.
- Layer the lettuce, rice, turkey, mint, and carrot in a large dish. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour it evenly over the salad. Toss to coat.
*This was less an imposition than it seems. What I didn’t tell you is I fell asleep in the 11s on the 4th of July while we were watching the Lego movie. I was well-rested when we got up for golf (eh, about 8 hours later), but I still extorted a giant coffee out of the Boyfriend even though there was a hugeeee line at the coffee shop. And I insisted on going with him to the golf course even though I don’t play golf and I don’t get golf. So basically, I was a huge pain and I made him thank me for it. Happy birthday, Boyfriend!