A La Le’s Rice Bowl
This weekend was in one word, spectacular. Refreshing sangria by the pool, homemade buffalo wings sizzling with a luscious orange glow, Trader Joe’s wine while singing karaoke, the glory bacon and blue cheese omelettes while watching “She’s Out of My League” on a couch at a bar. We even had Bloody Mary’s. Life was perfect. Thank you, Z, for having a birthday this week and a reason to celebrate. (And thank YOU, everyone else, who helped make the fun!)
Throughout the weekend of wishing my wonderful second-half a fabulous 25th year and being a sweaty mess in this humidity, surrounded by the type of friends you don’t mind looking like a sweaty mess around, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the lover I have recently taken. Down the street from our apartment, at Le’s Restaurant. An affair so good I might have suggested giving up my precious buffalo wings for a trip through those fine Vietnamese doors.
Le’s was always the ugly duckling in my mind. It took me months to actually suggest that we eat there. We would always walk by and look in the window, gazing and almost saying “yes” before the thought of “Fries!” or “Falafel!” entered our heads and we would move away, leaving Le’s for another day.
Until the awesome day when we actually went there and my life changed. Le’s is the freshest, most authentic Vietnamese food I’ve ever had. And my favorite dish is bun: a gigantic bowl of rice noodles, meat, sprouts and carrots and lettuce and peanuts, mint and cilantro and just about every amazing fresh ingredient they can pile on top. Add some oyster and peanut sauce, mix together, and enjoy a better carb overload than any large pizza could possibly offer.
That place is, honestly, sheer perfection, and I am glad it is in the opposite direction of the train I take to work or instead of opening a 401k last month I would have bought part ownership of Le’s. As long as I got free food.
After class tonight I had everything ready to make my own “bun”, but instead of rice noodles I used leftover brown rice. Everything came together so effortlessly: put the chicken on to cook, julienne the vegetables, mix the sauce, and by that time the meat is done and everything is ready and thrown into a bowl. My favorite part is the hot rice and chicken mixed with the cold crunch of vegetables and mild peanut sauce. Magic in your mouth.
A La Le’s Rice Bowl (serves 2)
1 cup cooked brown rice
8 chicken tenders (would be great with tofu, too!)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 green bell pepper
6 lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
Fresh mint and cilantro to garnish
Marinade the chicken in the soy sauce, agave, and Worcestershire for at least 20 minutes.
Spray a pan with Pam and turn the heat to high. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and sear until golden on each side. Turn down the heat, add the leftover marinade, and let the chicken cook until no longer pink in the middle.
While the chicken is cooking, heat up the brown rice and julienne the carrots and pepper into thin matchsticks and roughly chop the lettuce.
To make the sauce, mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, cayenne pepper and water until smooth.
When the chicken is cooked, remove from the stove. In a bowl, add the rice, then the lettuce, carrots, and pepper. Top with the chicken, peanut sauce, and herbs.
Mix together and enjoy.
I know all of you who were here this weekend wish we had gone to Le’s. I guess that means you all have to come back! Or, at least, come over for dinner.