July 24 was the birthday of my maternal grandmother. Had she lived beyond 2005, she would’ve turned 88 this year. That morning, I asked my mother if she was cooking something special to observe Mommy’s (I called my grandmother Mommy while I call my mother Mama) birthday. My mother said she wasn’t planning anything because she had already offered a mass for her. I insisted on making something, even a simple noodle dish to celebrate Mommy’s birthday. In the end, I decided to cook the dish myself, using ingredients that were available in our pantry and refrigerator.
Fortunately, we had the most vital ingredients on hand: the vegetables, the noodles, and some shrimp. No pork belly, though. And the chicken had been set aside for another dish so I couldn’t touch it either. I also realized that I had run out of Khmer sausages, which adds another layer of flavor. Chinese sausage is a good substitute.
Because I was using shrimp, I needed kinchay or wansuy to get rid of the lansa. But may aunt hates the taste of these herbs so it was again fortunate that I found some celery, which is a good substitute because it acts the same way and it’s something that my aunt likes.
I usually cook the vegetable recado before cooking the bihon in a broth of the combined juices of the recado, shrimp head extract, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and salt & pepper.
the veggies & noodles
When the noodles have cooked and absorbed the cooking broth, I usually add half of the vegetable recado and leave the rest for topping. But this time, I decided to add all of it. A dash of sesame oil in the last seconds of cooking finished the dish.
from the wok to the plate
Tradition tells us that noodle dishes on one’s birthday symbolizes the wish for a long and happy life. I think, celebrating the dearly departed’s birthday with a noodle dish symbolizes our undying love for that person.
Happy birthday, Mommy! Love you!