The Lenten season is up and running, and I am doing my best to keep with it. Mind you, I’m really not a practicing Catholic anymore, but I do follow certain practices. Such as giving up something for the forty days (although technically it’s forty-six) leading up to Easter. Looking back, I have been in the habit of choosing to give up things that are food related – I gave up eating out last year… which did not end well.
This year, I’m giving up meat.
No beef, no chicken, no pork. No goat, no ducks… basically anything that walks or flies. And what does that leave?
Seafood. The aquatics. I figured I’d give myself some leeway, and anyways when I tell people about M being vegetarian, the first question they usually ask is, “so, does he eat fish?” It's a meat... it isn't a meat. That discussion could go on and on. Whatevs. The leeway is there, and other than some dried shrimp, I’ve been living the veggie life. On Ash Wednesday, I made myself some misua and started the countdown to meaty delights.
Misua is a type of Chinese noodle that is found in a lot of Asian cooking. In the Philippines, it’s often used in soups. Growing up, my parents would cook up a big pot of misua with shrimp and a green vegetable that they called patola. I didn’t know what that was, but it looked like a cucumber. I wasn’t a fan of the stuff when I was younger, but I sure do like it now.
Patola also goes by the name luffa, Chinese okra, or silk gourd. I don’t know how it looks like okra, but let’s just go with it, shall we? You can buy it at the Asian market, just look for the really long green vegetable, slightly shriveled with prominent spines. If you go to the market on Colvin Avenue, it’s on the far end of the produce… middle shelf.
Misua with Shrimp and Patola
1 medium onion, small dice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried shrimp (fresh can also be used, how much is up to you)
1/2 package misua
Patola, peeled and cut into half pieces, ~2 cups
~6 cups vegetable broth
Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add the shrimp and cook a few minutes more. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and turn heat down to simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the sliced patola and cook for another five minutes. Season with salt or fish sauce and black pepper. Serve with plenty of fried garlic and fish sauce.