Lo Mein to Laksa
Thai Spices of Chanukah
by Allaya Fleischer
As many of you know (especially if you are from, or have family or friends in the United States), this Chanukah is a rather historical one, where both Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlap. The first time this happened was in November of1888, very shortly after Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, and once again in 1899. Since Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving back a week, thinking it would better stimulate the economic conditions of the country, this phenomenon happened once more in 1918, and never again until now. This year, 2013, Thanksgiving will fall on the second night of Chanukah. An occasion such as this won’t be seen again until November of 2070.
For many residents of the U.S., the idea of “Thanksgivukah,” took to the social media outlets like wildfire. The culinary possibilities, after all, left many drooling where they stood. Turkey? Latkes? Cranberry sauce? Sufganiot? Pumpkin pie? The excitement on Twitte ris palpable. Except for me, for, I have a confession: I hate turkey.
As a native of South East Asia, I tried really hard to like turkey. I ate it faithfully every year, to show my solidarity to my new homeland. I watched it roasting, turning a beautiful shade of caramel brown. Every year, my hopes lifted. Every year, I choked down bite after stinky, gamy bite of this foul bird (Yes,pun intended). Over the many years that I have now lived in the United States,t urkey proponent after turkey proponent eagerly sought me out, thinking I needed to only taste theirs, and my aversion to turkey would be a thing of the past. “But, I’m sure they didn’t make it like I do. I have a secret.” They all had secrets. Brines similar to witches’ brews, paper bags, marinades, special sauce, smokehouses. All promised to be the cure to the run-of-the-mill turkey. Admittedly,some were better than others, but I, too had a secret: I’d rather be smoking, brining, saucing, or marinating a brisket. A sausage. A chicken. Anything. I kept my mouth shut. Far be it from me, a sweet Thai woman to be opinionated.
After I got married, I decided to take things into my own hands for Thanksgiving. I generally don’t serve turkey. My guests are confused, but overall, they’re okay with it. When I do serve turkey, I curry or spice the living daylights out of it, hoping against all hope, it will transform into something else. Sometimes, it does, but I can’t help thinking at times, how much better it would have been, had it been a chicken. Many people ask me about my Thanksgivukah menu, as the day approaches. It’s become a standard greeting these days in the foodie community. I proudly announce that, yet again, I will not be roasting a turkey.
But, if you’re anything like me, turkey’s no exception; anything can benefit from spice and curry. So ditch the turkey and add Asian flavor to your holidays this year. Here are two Thai-inspired twist son otherwise “traditional” Chanukah foods, sure to zest your holidays up a bit.
Mee Krob, As I Remember It
(About 4 Snack-Sized Portions)
Make the Noodles:
Rice vermicelli, unlike their thicker counterparts, need no reconstitution prior to use – at least for our purposes. It usually comes in large bundles, composed of several smaller “bails” inside. Since the ingredients are rice and water, Star-K, as of this writing, approves the use of rice noodles without a hechsher.
Rice vermicelli, the noodles used in this recipe, comes in large bundles containing several smaller “bails.”
We will simply fry the noodles first. This process is extremely fast, and pretty entertaining to watch. If you’d like, you can fry up
Now Make the Syrup:
This syrup is made from tamarind, a sour fruit which can be found all over Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia, and is readily available in specialty shops with a hechsher. It’s generally sold as “paste,” or “concentrate,” but you can use either interchangeably in this recipe. If you can’t find any, unseasoned rice vinegar is an acceptable substitute.
The syrup can be made in advance, as well as the noodles, but it’s much easier to coat the noodles when the syrup is warm, so if you decide to do this, just heat the syrup up a bit in the wok before putting the noodles in. Mee Krob is generally eaten at room temperature, so there isn’t any rush to eat i
“Tom Yum” Latkes
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