Vermicelli Bowl

In a previous post I mentioned my fondness for crime dramas. For my birthday, on the recommendation of a friend, I signed up for a 6 month subscription to "Hunt a Killer." So, every month I'll receive a box filled with "clues." I have to solve a series of puzzles and connect them to the next box when it arrives to the house. 

www.huntakiller.com has a variety of stories and each story can be about 6-8 "episodes" or boxes. It requires a 6-8 month subscription, but you can cancel at anytime. They do give you a 1 month option to see if this is your thing. My subscription is 6 months and based on my research the story I received is 6 "episodes." However, the website does say the story NEVER ends and it's like watching your favorite TV show. 

My only complaint, I NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME to sit and play. I've put about an hour into my first box, building the board and connecting some dots. I've invited my sister, Tracy, to join me in the hunt and we scheduled a date to work on the board.

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While we work the case, you can call me, Gunner Kelly (#googleit) and my partner is Dick Tracy. 

Hours went by and it was time for me and my partner to feed our hungry bellies. We were running around in circles trying to figure out the puzzles. Dick Tracy said we should order some takeout. "Not on my watch!", I said, "If we can solve crimes, we can make our own food." I think I heard Dick Tracy whisper, "cheapskate," as she walked back over to the murder board. I shrugged off the comment and walked into the kitchen to whip up some vermicelli bowls. 

One of my favorite dishes to order at a local Vietnamese restaurant is the combination vermicelli bowl. Its loaded with veggies, vermicelli rice noodles, grilled marinated chicken, shrimp, beef and a spring roll. The bowl is served with a side of Nuoc Mam Cham sauce (fish sauce dip). The sauce gets poured all over the crispy, meaty and noodly goodness.

Let's break out the chopsticks and the murder board and get to work! "I've been working!", exclaims Dick Tracy, "Where is dinner? Takeout would've been faster."

"But not better!", I yelled back then under my breath, "Always a critic."

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PREPARATION TIP: This is a multifaceted recipe and I suggest reading through each section first. It's not a difficult recipe, but this is a good time to practice mise en place. This is a French term for "everything in its place." You can feed 6-8 people with this recipe or eat it for a couple days, which is exactly what we did.

NUOC MAM CHAM (Fish Sauce Dip):

1 cup of water

4 tablespoons of rice vinegar

4 tablespoons of sugar

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

5 tablespoons of fish sauce

2 small red chili peppers, sliced or 1 tablespoon of Sambal Oelek

In a small saucepan, whisk together the water, vinegar, sugar and garlic clove. Bring the mixture almost to a boil and when the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat. 

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When the mixture has cooled, take out the garlic clove and add the fish sauce and chili's or Sambal Oelek. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container. 

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MARINADE FOR THE Meat:

1 cup of soy sauce

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 piece of lemon grass, sliced in half

1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled

1 cup or 6 ounce can of pineapple juice

1/2 cup of water

Fresh ground pepper. 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together all the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the marinade sit for at least 45 minutes.

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Either refrigerate the marinade in a tightly sealed container for up to a week or cover your thinly sliced chicken and beef in the marinade. Reserve a 1/3 cup of the marinade to soak the shrimp an hour before grilling. Keep the chicken and beef in separate containers. Marinate the beef for up to 4 hours, chicken and shrimp for up to 2 hours. The beef can withstand a few hours more, but the chicken's texture will change the longer it marinades in it's salty bath.

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THE MEAT:

2-3 chicken breasts

1 1/2-2 pounds skirt steak

1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deviened and skewered

Freeze the meat for at least 30 minutes and use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breasts lengthwise. The thickness of your chicken breasts will determine how many slices you can get from one breast. I was able to slice each of my chicken breasts into 3 thin pieces. Use long strokes, not a sawing motion when you are slicing the meat.

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Preheat the grill and get ready for the beef, chicken and shrimp. The meat is thin and should not take long at all to cook. The beef took maybe 3 minutes on each side.

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The chicken took about 4 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other. You want to ensure the chicken is cooked to 165 degrees! Use an instant read thermometer to double check.

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The Shrimp won't take long. 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through.

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THE VEGGIES:

Iceberg lettuce, shredded

1 cucumber, julienned

1 red pepper, julienned

2 carrots, julienned

1 Diakon radish, julienned

Prepare all the veggies and set aside. Be creative here. I was unable to find a Daikon Radish at the store, I replaced it with a few red radishes. If you can find mung beans (bean sprouts) that don't look slimy, get those. I buy my carrots already julienned. I HATE julienning carrots.

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THE NOODLES:

1 package of vermicelli rice noodles

Cooked per the package directions. Rinse and refrigerate until ready to use.

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INSTRUCTIONS ON CONSTRUCTION & OTHER TOPPINGS:

1/3 cup of crushed peanuts

A handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

2 shallots, sliced and fried, optional

Spring Rolls, prepared per package directions (I got lazy here)

Marinated chicken, beef and shrimp, grilled to perfection

Veggies, prepared and ready for plating

Nuoc Mam Cham, recipe above

Preheat the oven to bake the spring rolls. I got Trader Joe's Chicken and Veggie spring rolls. Pretty Tasty! When I started the grill, I preheated the oven to bake the spring rolls. 

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Fill your bowl with a handful of cooked vermicelli noodles and veggies. Fill little cups with the Nuoc Mam Cham sauce. Notice I forgot to pull out my julienned carrots? Not to worry, I had plenty left over for dinner the next night and did not forget my carrots. 

Slice up the grilled meats and place them on the tasty veggie bed. Cut a spring roll in half and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle on some crushed peanuts and fried shallots, if you got it. 

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Pour on the Nuoc Mam Cham Sauce and remember to come up for a breath every once in a while. 

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As Dick Tracy laid down the chopsticks and rubbed, a very full belly, she said, "That WAS better than takeout. I've got to give you credit Gunner Kelly. You may be a terrible detective, but you're one hell of a cook." 

Nothing like a backhanded compliment from the ones you love. We didn't solve a single puzzle that Friday night. Starting this task after a full day's work, getting a late start because Dick Tracy was stuck in traffic and 5 kids running around the house did not make room for any mindful revelations. The next morning, though, we did solve one puzzle. I think there are at least 5 more left to solve in this box.

Will Dick Tracy and Gunner Kelly be able to push past the daily grind and hunt a killer? Only time will tell.