My four-year-old asked, “Mommy, is it still summer vacation?” It was a rainy day and we’d just dropped my other daughter off at her first day of second grade. But I enthusiastically answered, “Yes, at least until Labor Day!” So with summer vacation memories still very fresh in my mind, I’d like to share about one of my Most Memorable Vacation Meals…which is this month’s theme for The Recipe ReDux.
A few weeks ago, I took my three kids to Chicago’s Chinatown. I wanted them to be able to visit some of the apothecary/Chinese medicine shops, buy a cool Bento box lunchbox for school, and eat some ‘real’ Chinese food. The hospitable shopkeepers gave them all sorts of samples of dried fruit at the Chinese medicine shop: Crystalized ginger, papaya, mango, and kumquat. And instead of picking one restaurant for dinner, we trouped around to several shops and picked up mochi cakes and almond cookies from the bakery, udon noodles at one place and at another restaurant a few other items for our Chinese smorgasbord: Stir-fried vegetables with tofu and seafood, lotus root and celery salad, Papaya with white fungus in sugar syrup, and a red bean iced bubble tea. What fun it was to introduce them to some new foods! And honestly, I was so proud; they tried everything and we ate up almost every morsel!
Now one of my Recipe ReDux colleagues, Gretchen has already shared a brilliant Chocolate Mochi Cake recipe, so I did not attempt to recreate. But I was totally intrigued by the light, crackly texture of the almond cookies…and, seriously, who could not be challenged by the idea of recreating a Papaya and White Fungus fruit salad? Honestly, the kids didn’t like it all that much – too many unusual textures and there was a flavor in the fruit syrup we couldn’t identify. So to help in our Reduxing, we went to the library and checked out three Chinese kid’s cookbooks. We found an almond cookie recipe and I’ve adapted it by adding less fat and sugar, a little whole wheat flour and making the cookies more of a kid’s sized portion. Not surprisingly, we found no recipe for white fungus salad. So instead, we decided to adapt a ginger watermelon salad to include some of the fresh mint from our garden and some of the crystalized ginger from the Chinese apothecary. Everyone was pleased with our ReDux recreations!