Recipe: Fish sausages

Don’t wrinkle your nose like that!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re imagining smooth frankfurter-looking things filled with fish paste. No no no. What I’m suggesting is something a lot more palatable and, according to Best Ever Recipes: Appetisers (published by Hermes House, 2008), is actually Hungarian in origin, so no strange mix of tastes (like sugar in the snag) here. Bear with me.

Fish sausages fall on the piscine food continuum somewhere between fish cakes and fish fingers. They are firmer than cakes but full of herby goodness, unlike fingers. First the recipe plus notes:

375g fish fillets, such as perch, pike, carp or cod, skinned (I used dory)
1 white bread rolling75ml milk
25ml chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (actually, I used a mix — parsley, rosemary, oregano and a bit of dill)
2 eggs, well beaten
50g plain flour
Fresh breadcrumbs (or panko, the delightfully spiky large crumbs from Japan)
Oil
Salt and pepper

1. Mince or process the fish coarsely in a food process or blender. (Just check first to make sure all the bones have been removed.) Soak the roll in the milk for about 10 minutes, then squeeze it out. Mix the fish and bread together before adding the chopped parsley (or herbs), one of the eggs and plenty of seasoning.

2. Using your fingers, shape the fish mixture into 10cm long sausages, making them about 2.5cm thick. (Be careful because they’re very fragile at this stage.) Carefully roll the fish “sausages” in the flour, then in the remaining (beaten) egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.

(Step 2A. Put on a tray and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the sausages.)

3. Heat the oil in a pan then slowly cook the sausages until golden brown all over. Drain well on crumpled kitchen paper. Garnish with the deep-fried parsley sprigs and lemon wedges dusted with paprika.

Here’s a pic:

fish sausage, nicely out of focus!

You know, people are often a bit apprehensive about cooking fish. And it really isn’t helped by this cookbook. The editor of the book is Christine Ingram and she makes wonderfully affirming statements like:

* “Use this batter … whenever you feel brave enough to fry fish.” (Parmesan fish goujons) WHAT???!!! Brave enough to fry fish? Srsly?

* “If you can’t find Serrano ham, use Italian prosciutto or Portuguese presunto.” (Grilled asparagus with salt-cured ham) Sweetheart, if I can’t find Serrano ham (says Kaz from Johor), chances are I won’t be able to find prosciutto or presunto either, m’kay?

* “... this succulent tapas dish … tastes even better served with some home-made aioli.” (Chicken with lemon and garlic) Pity there’s no recipe for aioli in the entire cookbook then.

* “This is a well-known and much-enjoyed salad, even though its origins are a mystery.” (Caesar salad) A mystery … only if you don’t like food. (Hint: check out Julia Child.)

So, I like the cookbook, but am not too keen on Ms Ingram’s pearls of wisdom. Must be getting cranky in my old age but I hate it when people in authority either don’t do the proper research that is part and parcel of their bloody job or put off enthusiasts/students by making stupid statements. But the fish sausage? She is delicious!

You’ll have to make do with Novel Spaces ;)

Giving you a break

All I got at the moment are psychological or political analyses and, after Monday’s tasty morsel, that’s probably enough for this week. So, I’m blogging at Novel Spaces today but, because Novel Spaces runs  on American Eastern time, it means you won’t get to see it for hours and hours! 4:15am EST … ish.

Please do get along though because I’m talking about a short story that just got accepted into an anthology. Multicultural as well as something else. Hmmm…… Believe it or not, this is the first short story that I ever purpose-wrote for an anthology so I’m obviously very chuffed (after being obviously very nervous) about it being included, and I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough to make you go blog-hopping.

The link to Novel Spaces is here but remember that it won’t be live for a few hours. In the meantime, why not trawl through previous posts on the site? I’m proud to be part of the NS group. They are all entertaining, knowledgeable people who aren’t afraid to state their opinions up front, and you know how much I admire such people, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them. Long live strong opinions. Long live Novel Spaces. Go have a read and lose yourself in a few other genres at the same time.

Catch you Friday … with a recipe! :)

Political provocation is more prevalent than you think

All we have to do….

J and I have wonderful breakfast conversations. In fact, we yearn for compatible days off just so we can spend our time yakking over several mugs of tea and coffee. We’ll spend the time before our first meal of the day quickly scouring the ‘tubes for juicy gossip just so we can try to top each other with the most audacious political happenings of the past 24 hours. And they happen far more frequently than you would believe. For my American readers, the two US stand-outs from recent times are Obama’s “war is peace” Nobel peace prize speech (I swear it should be framed. Alternatively, we could put it on infinite loop playback right next to George Orwell’s grave and power an entire town from the energy generated by that poor corpse spinning in his grave. Nyuk nyuk.) and Jimmy Carter’s morally bankrupt repudiation of international justice in his apology to Israel. (I could never figure out why everyone thought he is such a great man; after all, when all’s said and done, he’s nothing more than a politician. Oh well.)

But back to the matter at hand, stalwart reader. How aggressive are humans actually? That was a recent topic. Are we animals that will make war at the drop of a hat, or is there something else involved? How many conflicts have begun, or got a great boost, from a provocation?

Now, neither J nor I are historians by trade, so we don’t presume to have the definitive list, but what we dredged up from memory was still rather interesting.

Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin incident that announced the entry of the USA into the Vietnam War was a lie. The unprovoked torpedo attacks from the North Vietnamese that sparked American retaliation not only never occurred, but the US destroyer Maddox was playing silly buggers in order to provoke things in the first place.

Poland. On 31 August 1939, German SS soldiers set up an attack on one of their own radio stations at the Polish-German border and the Germans broadcast a message, in Polish, urging Poles to kill the Germans who resided in the Silesian region.

Modern Poland. In the 1980s, the government carried out covert actions that were ostensibly anti-Communist (fires, infrastructure vandalism) in order to provoke the Soviet Union into invading and quelling the rising Solidarity movement. Thankfully, this one failed.

Iraq. The US gave the green light to Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait, then used the invasion as the premise to start the first Gulf War.

Malaysia. There is now a book out that says that the infamous May 1969 race riots were actually engineered with the full cooperation of the incumbent government in order to further its own ends.

Indonesia. A different use of provocation, but still…. Military man (and wartime collaborator) Suharto turned a botched coup attempt by an opposing military faction into anti-communist propaganda, initiating a massacre that took the lives of more than half a million communists, sympathisers and (I’m sure) people who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Israel. David Ben-Gurion had a reputation for giving the go-ahead for numerous provocations carried out by Israeli intelligence services throughout Europe against Jews, in order to convince them that Europe was completely anti-Semitic and that the best bet for their future was the new state of Israel.

China. The Marco Polo incident can be seen as deliberate Japanese provocation that essentially began World War Two in Asia in earnest (after some smouldering since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931). China was to Japan as Poland was to Germany … its liebensraum.

Germany. Hitler. Jews. ’nuff said.

Iran.
The Straits of Hormuz incident (2008) was, especially if you view the videos, deliberate provocation on the part of the United States, and not the first either. Here‘s an article from Asia Times that explains the significance of “international waters”, “Iranian inspections”, and so on within the context of the Straits.

There are plenty more examples of both blatant provocation and use of covert action by a government (it doesn’t matter which one, black or white, communist or capitalist, they’re all the same) either against its own citizens or against another country’s citizens in order to further its own ends. In fact, there are so many other examples that you have to wonder if we would have even had the amount of carnage humanity has sustained throughout history if it wasn’t for one small group of people at that time (and they weren’t solely men, so don’t fall into that trap) using spin to advance their aims … and to hell with their fellow human beings.

On the one hand, it makes me feel a bit optimistic because it tells me that, left to our own devices, people have a tendency to just generally want to get along with each other. On the other, it depresses the hell out of me because it also tells me how easily we can be manipulated by people we trust to do what’s best for us.

New Zealand in the GWOT? Swoon….

Something that perked me right up

I just had to share this with you. It appears that a Corporal Willie Apiata was just awarded the Victoria Cross. No problem there. And he’s a member of the SAS. Okay, as much as I ponder the psychological make-up of Special Forces members, no problem there either. There’s even a photo of him, most probably tanked up on adrenalin (the photo was taken just after an urban gun-fight) in Kabul. Again, so what? The kicker comes when you realise he’s part of the Special Forces of … wait for it … New Zealand.

Ah, New Zealand. You were one of the first modern countries to give women the vote (1893). In contrast, Switzerland thought that women were on the level of animals till 1971. And Liechenstein probably considered them less useful than assorted pets till 1984! (Western leadership in human rights. Gotta love it.)

The plucky little country (New Zealand, not Switzerland or Liechenstein) also gave the finger to the United States, disallowing nuclear-powered USA ships from docking at New Zealand ports, causing the USA to suspend ANZUS Treaty obligations to that country around 1987, I think.

Small yet fiercely independent and freethinking, that’s how New Zealand is regarded by others politically, when it’s regarded at all.

How did New Zealand stand on the GWOT (Global War on Terror)? And that Iraq thing? Well, back in 2004, Prime Minister Helen Clark said, according to the official New Zealand government website:

“This government said from the start that New Zealand would be prepared to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance [my emphasis --ksa] in Iraq…,” said Helen Clark … [and] … no further deployments of this kind to Iraq were being considered, … [although] New Zealand would consider formal requests from the United Nations for assistance in its headquarters in Iraq.

I single out “humanitarian and reconstruction” because it’s a familiar refrain once we reach Afghanistan. From New Zealand’s Scoop of January 2005:

“Projects to be completed during … [the] … six-month rotation [of NZ Defence Force personnel] will range from engineering projects and school refurbishments, to conducting health programmes in surrounding villages.

Engineering! Schools! Health programmes! So, the whole idea of Kiwi Special Forces (I want to say “men” here but, having spoken to many [EDITED TO ADD: military] people about SAS guys and coming from a military family myself, the only word that comes to mind is “lunatics”) running loose in Afghanistan, all buzzed from killing armed Taliban militants (natch!) is, er, somewhat disconcerting. Actually, for me, rather depressing as well, because I’ve always admired NZ’s purported “independence”. Woe is me for being so damned idealistic. Again.

But, to be honest, this is a song we’ve heard before. Remember August 2002? Then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder saying that “Germany was not ready for any foreign policy adventures” in Iraq (memory jog here)? Remember the news that subsequently broke about Germany providing intelligence support to the USA in the run-up to that “adventure”? (See Document 42 of the National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 80 here].)

And what about Germany and Afghanistan? I love these official government websites. There is so much ammunition there for the shooting of feet. According to Germany’s own government site:

We have already made great progress since the end of Taliban rule in 2001: more than six million boys and girls are attending a school again [big school --ksa], the economy is growing, and the markets are working; medical care has been vastly improved, and infant mortality has fallen.

Got that warm glow yet? But wait, Germany, what’s for the future?

We shall stay for as long as it takes to ensure that Afghanistan can no longer become a source of danger to us. [I mean, seriously, was Afghanistan — I mean, frickin’ Af-ghan-is-tan — EVER a threat to Germany? Soccer hooliganism, and bad German wine (*), is more a threat to Germany than a country that is consistently ranked as one of the world’s poorest –ksa] That is why the international community is supporting the civil reconstruction process … Germany is particularly heavily involved in the establishment of a civilian police force that works efficiently and enjoys the trust of the Afghan people.

Ah-ha. Got that? “Civil reconstruction process”? Sounds like road-building, doesn’t it? Buses for schools. New light poles. Repaired roads. I sincerely doubt that the “civil reconstruction process” covers raining down bombs on Afghan civilians around fuel trucks resulting in a tremendous firebomb that fried to a crisp one hundred men, women and children, but you’ve got to give the Germans that much. When they commit, they really commit. To his credit, though, German Colonel Georg Klein said he pleaded with the Americans to use “smaller bombs” (on fuel trucks, no less), but you know what those gung-ho ‘mericans are like once they get their gander up? Poor Georg.

And poor German government. How do you describe the flaming napalm-like murder of civilians on your website? “Future clear for two dozen Kunduz children”? “Two hazardous waste containers were neutralised in a joint German-American operation, with the participation of scores of local Afghanis”? “A lake was created in a joint German-American operation that will, in the future, be used for recreational purposes for the communities that live in Kunduz province”?

Germany and New Zealand. Shining lights of strong principles, unfaltering honesty and Western ethics. What would we do without you guys?

(*) I won’t forget a memoir of Mark Twain’s, wherein he remarks that he was grateful for bottle labels during his trip through Germany, because he could thus easily distinguish between their wine and their vinegar. Yes, I’ve drunk German wine. Two words. (The Australians among you will appreciate the reference.) Blue Nun.

Nothing to see here. Move along

I’m pooped.

Work has been intense and I’ve been meaning to turn Fridays into more or less steady recipe days. I have enough recipes — stalwart reader, believe me, I have enough recipes! — but what I don’t have are nice photos to go with said recipes.

So I think I’ll leave my more political posts for the beginning of the week, take a rest and wish all of you a good weekend. Go do something different! I’ll catch you Monday.

A Sausage update

Turning the house upside down

If you follow Maria Zannini’s blog, you’d know that she has two Rottweilers, Tank and Iko. And even though I’m a little so-so about Rotties, I have to admit that Iko is a fine-looking young man. Another friend of mine, I just found out this week, has a Bichon, that white fluffy iconic breed that makes me think of mop-heads and cleaning floors whenever I see one.

Sausage is … well, not like either of those. She’s manic and cute in a truly ugly way. Think I’m joking? Cop this:

I took the photo at Christmas and it’s one of my favourites but you can’t tell me she doesn’t look like she’s just walked off the set of The Spiderwick Chronicles?

With that big nose of hers, she manages to poke herself into every situation, often getting scratches from Fluff and Squeak as a result. Does that faze her? Not a bit. Give her ten minutes and she’s back to wagging her tail and barking in front of a disdainful feline, just daring one to give her a good ole chase. Whether it’s a cat chasing Sausage or Sausage chasing a cat makes no difference to her; the game’s the thing.

Watching her interact with us, the cats, the fish(*) and other people, I can’t believe how bull terriers got the terrible reputation they did. Oh, they’re physically strong dogs, as well as being headstrong, but they’re so forgiving that you just wish they’d be a tad more cynical and live up to their “so ugly it’s cute” appearance, especially around two feline heavyweights. Here she is on one of the living room chairs, making herself comfortable:

There are a lot of dog breeds out there that are much better looking than Sausage. They’re more obedient, they’re cuter, they’re smarter, they “talk” more, and they don’t have manic half-hours. But the truth of the matter is, bull terriers have wormed their way into my affections and for me — and, increasing I think, for the rest of the family — there will never be another dog breed that usurps that place in our hearts.

(*) Please don’t make the mistake of feeling sorry for our koi, captive in our courtyard pool, tantalisingly close to snoozing cats and a curious dog. It didn’t take long for the fish to figure out our four-legged pet vulnerabilities. They splash. It happens every time either Fluff, Squeak or Sausage annoy them in some way by getting too close or trying to bob for fish food during feeding time. They’ll dive, flexing their tail at the same time, sending a fountain of water towards the miscreant. It’s 100% effective. Anyone who keeps fish will tell you they are far from the brainless, purely instinct-driven animals we were taught about in school. They recognise people, can come when called and, as I’ve just related, are smart enough to take care of themselves, thank you very much. Still doesn’t stop me from enjoying a nice meal of grilled fish though. I just hurry the supermarket bag past the big sliding doors into the kitchen so our own finned friends can’t see what I’m doing.

The lack of diversity in south-east Asia

“You throw like a girl!”

A couple of weekends ago, a friend from school was dropped off by his parents to spend some time visiting with The Wast. Let’s call the friend Jerry. Jerry is a nice boy, the second in a family of three children (two boys, one girl). His parents are well-to-do professionals, from what I gather. In other words, his parents should know better.

The school our kids attend is a private one, mostly because all the lessons (except for Malay) are in English. As much as we wanted to, putting our kids into one of the state schools, where the language of instruction is Malay, would have been a disaster. As a result, the school caters for professionals, for the richer parents; that is, for those who see a future for their children outside Malaysia and are prepared to pay for it. In other words, the school should know better.

A day after Jerry’s visit, The Wast mentioned at the dinner table that, “Jerry says that girls can’t fight.”

“Pardon?” I blinked.

The Wast grinned. “Yeah, he says that girls are useless at boxing and fighting and that kind of stuff.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Little Dinosaur, who’s built like a brick outhouse, declared. “What about Hit-Girl(*)? And look at mama.”

“That’s right,” I said. “Look at me. Do you think I can’t fight?”

“No. But that’s just what they say at school.”

“And what do you tell them?”

“I tell them that my mother taught martial arts, but they don’t believe me.”

A couple of days later, The Wast shared what he learnt in Moral Education.

“Boys should be well-groomed and have short hair,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Why what?”

“Why should you have short hair? Does having long hair mean you somehow lose your testicles?”

“No.” (With a giggle.)

“Does having long hair mean you lose all your intelligence?”

“No.”

“Does having long hair mean you don’t know how to speak or interact with people?”

“No.”

“Does having long hair interfere with your homework?”

“No.”

“So why is it bad having long hair?”

“Besides the fact you’ll faint from heat exhaustion in this climate,” J added, ever the voice of reason.

The Wast thought about it. “I don’t know.”

“Exactly.”

What I like about having my children educated in south-east Asia is the emphasis on foundations in language and maths, the discipline (except the corporal punishment bits) and the rigour. What I thoroughly dislike about having my children educated in south-east Asia is the utter narrow-mindedness masquerading as high principle. Mind you, I still prefer Asia to, say, Australia. At least here, I can help counter the unthinking idiocy with some well-chosen pieces of logic and history. In Australia, how do I console a daughter who’s been called a black monkey bitch and told to go back to the trees where she belongs?

Still, you’d think there has to be some middle ground. Some damned tolerance. The school principal came out with a doozie recently, saying that boys shouldn’t do ballet because, if they do, they’ll turn into homosexuals. Oh good grief. The amount of ignorance flying around is astounding. And the belief in witchcraft here is still strong (one example is the “black magic” that Indonesians seem to have some fast-track channel into, that will deflect bullets and knife blows from their bare bodies. Say it with me this time … oh good grief.)

All I can do is help the kids focus on the academic fundamentals and, through wider education, show — as well as tell — them that women are the equal to men. That gays and lesbians have just as much right to civil liberties as anyone else (which is a problem in itself in a country where you have equal and more equal citizens, if you get my drift), that cross-dressers aren’t automatically gay, that ascribing to witchcraft doesn’t make you impervious to injury or a slam-dunk to win the lottery, that being envious of a family doesn’t mean their newborn baby will be “cursed” thus causing mental illness … the list goes on and on. And, as I think I may have mentioned in a previous post, these sorts of inane beliefs are not the purview of the uneducated. They come from the mouths of doctors, teachers, IT professionals and accountants. In fact, I’ve found it easier to talk around someone who’s only had primary school education compared to a University graduate. It’s an interesting insight into the impermeability of mindsets.

I’ll come back to gender equity again, in another post. In the meantime, I’m putting my old trophies and medals out on display, just in case someone asks ….

(*) You can see who’s already excited about the upcoming release of Kick-Ass the Movie, can’t you? Damn you, SF Signal! Damn you and your embedded trailers!

What I’m working on

Protecting His Heart? Riddle of the Mandala? Ninja Attackers of Death? Who knows

I thought I’d do something a bit different this year and tell you what kind of writing stuff I’m working on from time to time.

At the moment, I’m writing the first draft of the sequel to Guarding His Body, working title Protecting His Heart.

We meet a new set of characters in this book. Chris Lance is a British IT consultant, based in Singapore. One of his newer hobbies is collecting Asian works of art and, from a tip-off, he flies to Hong Kong to bid on an intricately-patterned mandala that’s unlike anything he’s seen before. When he returns with it, however, he finds the mandala — and himself — the object of some nasty attention.

Laurie Bernardine is a martial artist who initially breaks into Chris’ apartment in order to steal the mandala from him. However, she isn’t the only one with that goal in mind, and the artefact ends up getting snatched by a mysterious gang instead, headed by a ruthless meglomaniac. (Aren’t they all?)

But, if the mandala is already gone, why is Chris still being targetted with violence? Laurie knows she must keep him safe while she figures out the riddle of the ancient mandala.

That’s the story in a nutshell. I thought I’d like to base more books in south-east Asia, as a counterweight to the many books set in Western countries and Singapore seemed like the natural choice since it’s so modern and yet with twists of Asian culture permeating its fabric. Also, I’ve lived there and can pop back every time I need to imbibe some “atmosphere”.

Maria tells me that I’m a quick writer, although that could be because I like sitting in front of a computer for hours on end whereas she actually has a life, taming her ranch, doing a fantastic job of furniture restoration and yelling at her husband, Greg, after he’s gone and got himself hurt in various endeavours. In any case, my current schedule has me completing the first draft of Protecting by the end of February. Then it’s a rest while I work on something else. Then it’s edits. Then I’ll send it to Total-E-Bound and see if they like it as the second book in the His Bodyguard series. With any luck, I’m hoping the finished novel will see the light of day by the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll remind myself to update you as I go along.

Have a good weekend all, and if you’d like to add yourself as a Friend via Google (see sidebar), feel free! Would love to see more avatars there.

Darwin and Novel Spaces

See that little blank space there?

Okay Darwin, we seem to have a problem. You see, I check my ClustrMaps visitor map every now and then and, in all the years I’ve been blogging (okay, three), I’ve noticed something. Nobody has ever tuned into my blog from Darwin, Australia.

What’s the matter, Darwin? Feeling a little sad that I set a story in Brisbane? That I mention Melbourne from time to time? Or is the tropical heat and all those crocodiles getting to you? Even Perth, the most remote capital city in the world (and a fine little city on the banks of the Swan it is too), manages to make some kind of showing. Even the churchie nutcases from Adelaide occasionally tune in. But not you. I even have readers in frickin’ China, but not from you. Venezuela makes a showing, but not you. Can you sense the pattern here?

No, I’m not angry. I wouldn’t want you to think that. But I am disappointed. And I think I’ll just let you have a little time on your own to ruminate on what you haven‘t done and, when you think you have things straight in your head, maybe we can sit down again and have another chat, m’kay?

For the rest of you (or one), I have a new post up at Novel Spaces. You can have a white holiday season one degree north of the Equator. Go read and find out how.

PONDERING: Maybe they don’t have internet access in Darwin?

Recipe: Vietnamese Cabbage Salad with Chicken

Fish sauce smells pretty, uh, fishy

Another new salad to add to the family repertoire. I made this salad with a slight amount of trepidation back in November, but the kids just wolfed it down and asked for more. I mean, really, trying to cook interesting food for children is a real crapshoot. So, now that I’ve found this recipe, I’m holding onto it with both claw-like hands. As usual, the original, from the Periplus Authentic Recipes series (Authentic Recipes from Vietnam by Trieu Thi Choi and Marcel Isaak, 2005) is given below, as well as my notes in italics.

1 skinless chicken breast (about 100g), stamed or poached until cooked and shredded to yield about 1 cup
½ head cabbage, leaves washed, rolled up and thinly sliced (I usually use red cabbage because it looks so stunning)
2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
2 tablespoons minced polygonum leaves (also known as daun kesum in Malaysia, and maybe Vietnamese mint elsewhere. The cookbook tells me that if you can’t get this particular herb, substitute with equal quantities of mint and coriander leaves)
3 tablespoons fish sauce (be brave; it’ll all come right in the end)
1½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 tablespoons crispy fried shallots (I tend to leave this out because, as much as I love the taste of them, the shallots always get stuck on my back teeth; J doesn’t even like the taste of them)
2 tablespoons crushed roasted unsalted peanuts (I use a mortar and pestle to give an interesting, uneven texture to the crushed peanuts)
1 finger-length red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced lengthwise (I leave this out for the moment because of the kids)

1. Combine the chicken, cabbage, herbs in a large bowl.
2. (Now this is my own step. The cookbook has you tossing everything, except the shallots and chilli, into the bowl with gay abandon, and adding more sugar to taste, but I tend to take a more nuanced approach to salad dressing.) Combine the fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and pepper in a small cup or bowl. Mix until the sugar is as dissolved as it’s going to get. Don’t worry if it’s still a bit gritty by the time you’ve finished mixing, you won’t be able to taste it in the final dish. Adjust ingredients to taste.
3. Garnish with red chilli and serve immediately. (As mentioned before, I leave out the chilli, then dust J’s and my portion of salad with chilli flakes. Can’t live without them chilli flakes!)

And although I only had the usual white cabbage at hand yesterday, this is what it should look like:

Vietname Cabbage Salad with Chicken

NOTE: Because getting particular herbs can be a bit of a hit and miss affair, when I see the herbs on offer, I grab a whole lot of them, mince them, mix them and freeze them in plastic bags. This way, I always have the herb mix on hand to whip up this salad with leftover chicken. They’ve kept well for 2 months, so far. The herbs, that is.

ASIDE: And in Neo Dark Ages™ news from Malaysia, I bring you the burning of churches and the banning of the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, even though the Arabic word predates Islam and is currently used to also describe non-Muslim deities. I was going to write an entire rant about this, but A Rahman does a much better job in a letter to malaysiakini (Malaysia Now) here. The way it’s going, Malaysia is going to lose its “moderate Muslim country” tag … not that I think certain loud-mouthed and closed-minded factions care. (And, again, you’ll note that the action is being taken to “protect” Muslims from confusion with other gods. Insert appropriate WTF comment here.)