This past weekend, I was at a potluck and had one of the most delicious eggplant dishes that I had ever tried. I immediately had to ask where the recipe was from and lucky for me, it was sitting in Jerusalem, one of my favourite cookbooks. I couldn’t believe that I had overlooked the recipe, but when I found it in my book later that night, I wasn’t too surprised. It was one of the few recipes in his book without an accompanying picture. I am so drawn in by Ottolenghi’s gorgeous photographs that I can’t help but skim over those that are unlucky enough not to have a stunning, colourful, full page photograph right next to it. Either way, I knew I wanted to make the recipe as soon as possible but to make it a full meal, I decided to make eggplant and mango salad rolls for a little twist on a classic.
I am pretty sure these vietnamese savoury pancakes were on the original list of brainstorming that I did when I started this blog almost two years ago. I have made them countless times since, but I have always resisted putting them up here because they were always the biggest pain in the ass to make (not anymore, don’t worry!). They were the type of dinner that I always enjoyed eating but would spend my time cursing the kitchen gods (pancake making gods to be more precise) the whole way through. The pancakes would crack, fall apart, and I would end up eating a deconstructed version of the lovely meal you see above over and over again.
Sometimes a recipe is so tightly tied to its meaty roots that making a vegetarian version seems like an unforgivable bastardization of the dish. For me, pho is one of those dishes. Vegetarian pho is something that I have thought about making ever since we went to Vietnam four years ago. Whenever I found a vegetarian version during our travels, I savoured that hearty bowl of soup like you wouldn’t imagine. Even in 40C heat and 100% humidity, the soup was worth it (is it ever too hot for soup?). However, I always suspected that my bowl of pho was nothing like the meaty broth that my travel partner was eating across from me.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a vietnamese sub from a small place close to my boyfriend’s work. In all honesty, my hopes are never very high with regards to restaurants here in Calgary. I know that there are a lot of more expensive places that are supposed to be great, but we won’t spend the money. Usually when we go out, it’s ok, but nothing fantastic. I don’t know if it was the mood I was in but that sub was absolutely phenomenal. I haven’t eaten something, outside of our own kitchen, that I have so thoroughly enjoyed for such a long time. Although I have not tried to replicate it exactly, it made me think that it would be a great dish to make at home. Here it is.