Choose your own Asian Adventure: from the $100/week Menu

$100/week Menu


Proudly presenting Asian noodle soup and salad rolls from our $100 weekly grocery challenge.  There were noodle soup shops all over Vientiane, Laos, where my husband and I met and later lived together. The shopkeepers served up massive, steaming bowls of pho (pronounced “fuh”), brimming with fragrant herbs just pulled from the earth. But being an almost-vegetarian (I eat fish and seafood), I missed out on the heavily beef based soup. Here’s a version we came up with to appeal to all preferences. While not authentic pho, it’s fun to get the kids involved and let them choose their own soupy adventure. Kids also enjoy making their own salad rolls, which we often serve as accompaniment to the soup. For inspiration, check out Camilla Gibb’s gorgeous portrayal of a dedicated pho craftsman in her fascinating novel The Beauty of Humanity Movement.






What you need:


Choose 1/3 lb of your own noodles: vermicelli, udon, stick


Choose 6 cups of your own broth: vegetable, chicken, fish


Choose 3 cups of your own greens: finely sliced bok choy, kale, chard, spinach


Choose 2 cups of your own protein: diced tofu, shrimp, shredded chicken


Choose 1 cup of your own mushrooms: enoki, sliced button or cremini mushrooms


4 tsp soy sauce


1 tsp sesame oil


Choose a couple splashes of your own sauces: chili-garlic, fish sauce, vinegar


Choose your own garnishes: thinly sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, finely sliced lemongrass, fresh Thai basil


What you do:


Cook noodles according to package directions. Get the broth simmering in a large pot and add the greens, protein and mushrooms you’ve chosen. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Simmer until meat or shrimp are cooked. Place individual portions of noodles in each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Garnish as preferred.




What you need:


1 package of Vietnamese rice paper


1/4 lb vermicelli noodles


Choose your own vegetables: sliced red pepper, sliced cucumber, grated carrot, chopped baby spinach, broccoli slaw, cilantro


Choose your own protein: tofu sliced into strips and fried golden brown, leftover shredded chicken, sautéed shrimp


Choose your own sauces: peanut satay sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, garlic-chili hot sauce


What you do:


Cook noodles according to package directions. Place a sheet of rice paper in a shallow bowl filled with warm water and let sit for a minute or so (until soft). Take the sheet out and lay it flat on a plate. Place some noodles on top. Add your choice of vegetables and protein. Drizzle with sauces of your choice. Roll up burrito-style and dip the salad roll in sauces of your choice. Enjoy the trip!


This will be the last recipe from our $100/week Menu, but if you have requests I’d love to hear them. Please post below.

About Kelley Powell

Kelley Powell has a Master’s degree in international development and has worked at a home for impoverished women and children in India, on a domestic violence research project in Laos and with the Canadian government’s family violence prevention unit. She met and married her husband, Imran, in Laos and is now happily at home with their 3 children, aged 7, 4 and 2. She teaches yoga and meditation in Ottawa and specializes in teaching parents, pregnant women, children and teens. When her children are napping or at school, she leaves the dishes in the sink and the toys on the floor and she writes. Her publishing credits include The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and New Moon Girls magazine. She is currently seeking a publisher for her young adult novel. Kelley is a partner in Satya Communications, a freelance writing company that creates compelling articles, reports and communication for a variety of clients.


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