Recipe by Su-Mei Yu, executive chef, Saffron.
I hardly ever go out to eat except when my daughter is in town and we go out to try new restaurants. I cook every single day and plan what I am eating. You need energy to do what you need to do and not get sick. So I cook. It relaxes me. I just put my mind on what I am doing and it’s so meditative.
I learned about food from my mother. Growing up in Thailand, we always had to be on top of the weather to stay well. It was so extreme — from high heat to big storms — and it was easy to get sick if you didn’t eat properly. If you look at ancient civilizations, they didn’t have pills and depended on their knowledge and observations to stay well. Every culture has its own medicines derived from nature. Especially when the weather is difficult.
My mother taught me how to use food to stay healthy. That’s why Thai food is so complex — it is used to balance the body and counteract the effects of the environment. Later, after I lived in America for a while, I went back to Thailand and studied folk medicine. The combination of the two — my love of food and knowledge of Thai folk medicine — made me an amateur nutritionist. Those around me eat well because I serve healthy food that is nurturing and delicious, too. Lately, with the changes in the seasons when it’s hot and then cold, people have been coming in for my spicy noodle soup to help them stay well. It’s very healing.
I’m a big believer in breakfast. At the restaurant, I seldom have time to eat lunch, and I don’t snack between meals. I drink water all day. Water is the most important fuel. I eat a good dinner at 6:30. A very good meal, very well balanced. I don’t have dessert and I don’t snack. I do listen to my person before I start to cook. For breakfast, I use really good whole-wheat bread or flaxseed bread or make banana bread or apple or carrot bread. Some days I crave eggs and sometimes I make them hardboiled with tomatoes and herbs.
I’m a late bloomer becoming a writer and cookbook author. I never thought I could do it. But when my cookbook came out, Martha Stewart asked me to come on the show. She loves spicy food. She can eat really spicy food. When we were cooking, she kept adding chilies and I said, “No, Martha, that’s too many chilies you’re adding. It’s too hot.” But she likes it like that. Diane Sawyer, too. I’m mostly a vegetarian and rarely eat meat, but my downfall is chorizo. I would kill for scrambled eggs and chorizo.
Makes 1 serving
1/2 medium tomato, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup diced avocado
1 tablespoon minced onion and/or fennel
1 tablespoon each chopped mint and cilantro (substitute with fresh herbs such as parsley or basil)
1 teaspoon celery salt
dashes of sea salt (according to your preference)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 hardboiled egg
1 slice toasted flaxseed bread
butter, jam, and/or local honey, to taste
HOW TO DO IT
In a serving bowl, combine the tomato, avocado, onion, fennel, mint, cilantro, celery salt, salt, red pepper, and lemon juice. Mix well and let sit for five minutes. Slice the egg into bite-size pieces and gently combine with the vegetables. Enjoy with flaxseed toast spread with butter and jam or local honey.