All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Tom cooks 15. Poo ob woon sen (steamed crab with mung bean noodles)

One afternoon, Tom promised he would cook a harusame mung bean vermicelli dish with crab. Within a few days he modified his words to "I'll go get a crab, and you cook it," but of course this did not work for me. My answer was, "You cook it."

When I went down to the kitchen to check on him, I saw an ambiguous smile plastered on his face.

"I'm OK, but ..."

I followed Tom's eyes to the counter, where a ceramic pestle I had used for 10 years lay shattered in pieces.

Tom looked very contrite, just like after he had broken my large Japanese porcelain serving plate.

Luckily, Tom had almost finished smashing cilantro, ginger and black pepper, and the food preparation was not interrupted. And tools are there to be used. While I did like the pestle and used it often, I decided that it had had a good life in our kitchen.

The second time I went downstairs, Tom was measuring seasonings, and I realized that the lesson I had learned in elementary school on how to use measuring spoons was not shared internationally. The liquid is supposed to make a rounded "cap" over the spoon, and that is what you want to see when measuring "1 tsp" or 5 cc, for example. Despite Tom's cavalier attitude, his style of measurement, is not OK. With reduced-sodium recipes, small differences in measurement could make a big difference in final dishes, as I keep encountering in my experiments.

Tom did not know where we kept mung bean vermicelli and hua jiao Sichuan peppercorns. The fact that he was in the kitchen when I was cooking dishes that used them does not count at all.

Besides the above incident (and others), Tom managed to (sort of) multi-task: he was able to soak dried mung bean vermicelli, mix and place different ingredients for each purpose, and check how everything was cooking in the pot.

Tom, happy with the outcome, told me he would make it again.

Next time, please prepare the crab so that the dish stays warm when we sit down to eat. Do you know what to do?

Recipe for Tom: Poo ob woon sen / steamed crab with mung bean noodles

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