Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about one of my old friends from Vietnam that I have known since living in China. She, as I, has a totally different life now that she has moved to the US, but both of us can’t help it but miss a lot our country of adoption, PRC.
Joyce and I actually only got closer towards the end of my stay in Guangzhou. We used to hang out with a common friend of ours, but only in the last months that I was in China we got to really know each other better. She was always this very discreet person, but I always saw there was a strong personality lying just underneath, which is what I liked about her immediately. She had that calm attitude on the outside, and this inner strength common to lots of Asian women with a “story”. Being an expat, you learn how to rely on yourself most of the times, but in some cases one would seek for family temporary replacement, and that’s usually the time you also find out who your real friends are. She ended up being the one who took care about me when I got sick, supported me when I felt weak, and of course fed me when I could not see clear enough on what would do me good (physically and mentally)! Asians have got this culture and sense of what’s good for the body and better for the soul; what food will activate body defenses, and what attitude will bring harmony; and vice and versa sometimes. I’ll never forget how she was present by my side when I needed support and nobody had noticed that I just needed anything at all.
Then we shared more “moments” together and continued building a real friendship. It’s been since 2009 that we have not seen each other, as we both got married and followed our husbands where they settled their business, but I always keep in mind that I want to pay her a visit where she now lives, in Florida. In my head, I start making plans for next year, and although I can’t make this a promise right now, I do want to seriously consider the option for next Spring or so.
During the last weeks that I’ve spent in Guangzhou, my friend Joyce took me to some pretty nice Vietnamese restaurants I had never heard of before in my city. She made me taste a number of very nice dishes from Vietnam, and curiously that was not including the Bo Bun, because there was so much more to discover and that I never had before. Actually, the Bo Bun as well as the Bo Bun Nems were dishes I discovered thanks to my Chinese best friend Gisele in our regular Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Guangzhou near JianShe 6 Malu. That was a fresh yet filling dish we loved having on hot Summer nights before going to our favorite club next door, the Cellar. Those were fun times. I can’t believe it dates back so long ago already… But the Bo Bun has survived all these years in my memory and it’s only recently that I have begun to make it by myself at home, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes with chicken and mint nems, sometimes with a small addition of scrumble eggs or chicken bites. And everytime I eat one of those, I do have a nostalgic thought for my two lovely friends, Gisele and Joyce.
- 1 portion of glass noodles
- 1 handful of grated carrot
- 1 handful of soy sprouts
- half a dozen cucumber sticks
- 1 egg or a bit of shredded turkey
- 2 handful of green leaves
- 2 large chicken and mint nems
- 2 tbsp of chopped peanuts
- 1 tbsp of dried mint leaves
- 1,5 tbsp of coriander
- fresh mint and coriander leaves if you can get ahold of those
- fish sauce to taste and a dash of lemon juice
- Cook the glass noodles in boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and cool immediately under running cold water.
- Cook the nems in the oven with no extra oil for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees C, turning them around at mid-time and making them extra crispy.
- Scramble the whisked egg with a bit of oil.
- In a large Asian bowl, set the green leaves in the bottom and along the edges if they can hold.
- On top of the greens, display the cold glass noodles, then the soy sprouts and grated carrots.
- Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, mint and coriander (ground and whole leaves if you have some).
- Set the scrambled egg or shredded turkey on one side.
- Set the cucumber sticks on another side.
- Slice the nems in three large bite size and display all around the dish.
- Splash a dash of lemon.
- Pour fish sauce over the whole dish and serve.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2017 All Rights Reserved.