Accuweather has promised me sunshine for tomorrow, so I am really excited for the weekend! Sometimes when I wake up on Monday, I feel as though I’m never going to reach Friday. This week, on the other hand, flew by. I can’t believe it’s already over. Work has been insanely busy and with other commitments I have, I’m surprised that I’m not drowning in a sea of responsibility and awash in guilt over not finding time to go to the gym. I’m not letting it get me down. I’m embracing the business. I’m getting to take on some more heavy lifting, as it were, at work, and the job I currently have is the first one where I really feel like I’m doing something every day. It’s great, and it makes coming to work enjoyable. When I first moved to New York, I took the first administrative position I could find. It just so happened that this job was in finance. At a hedge fund. At first, the money was good and I got free lunch, so I was just happy to be able to see some positive numbers in my bank account. After a while, though, it began to take its toll. People in finance work long hours and are under a lot of pressure to make more and more money. Understandably, that means that they are all really stressed out and poised to take it out on the people below them. I once had a boss scream at me about how his bottle of ketchup didn’t have enough ketchup in it. I was supposed to microwave another person’s salmon for exactly 5 seconds before putting it on a plate and wrapping the fork and knife up in napkin just so before handing it to him. The same person’s driver was playing basketball one time, got hit in the face with a basketball, and emailed the assistants for someone to call 911 to get the guy an ambulance. You heard me right – he emailed people to call an ambulance for him. The final straw was after the hedge fund when I was working at a mutual fund (evil by another name) and my incredibly on-edge boss told me, in a kitchen full of people, that a 16 year old could do my job. That’s when I decided I needed out, and any pay cut or endless job search or late nights scrolling through LinkedIn and updating my resume would be worth it.
My spirit animal shirt, photo from a roof in the city, making bread and great advice.
Luckily, I landed at a great job outside of the finance industry. I work at an almost not-a-start-up-start-up (I feel like we’ve outgrown the title in the past year) and everyone is just fantastic. People are respectful and kind. They welcome questions and are happy to put their heads together to come up with solutions to problems instead of just yelling or blaming one another. I don’t just get along with these people, but I’ve actually befriended quite a few of them. Nothing is utopian, but after my prior work experiences, this place comes pretty damn close. The best thing about my bosses is that when I do something, they always say thank you or something similar to acknowledge that you did the thing that they asked, or even better, anticipated a need and did it ahead of time. I’ve never had bosses that said thank you before in such a sincere way. It’s refreshing. Whenever I’m overloaded with work and I feel like I can’t possibly get everything done, I take a minute, make a prioritized list, and remember that I could be delivering chopped salads to stock traders shouting “bullish!” and “bearish!” at each other’s faces all day. I have real goals where I work now, and I can see my work pay off. I’m incredibly fortunate to be in this position, and I always tell people who move to New York and are working some crappy job that they hate that they’ll get there, too. It took me almost four years, but it was certainly well worth the wait. And besides, you can’t truly appreciate a good thing until you’ve experienced the other end of the spectrum.
Anyway, enough gushing about my job. Honestly, though, when being busy and having a lot of work doesn’t bother me, you know something’s right. Okay, really – enough. Salad. Mango salad, that is. This one in particular was inspired by my trip to Thailand last month. I bought what I thought were hard, unripened mangoes, as the salads you get over there are usually made from young mangoes or papayas, but weirdly enough, I opened these ones up and they were perfectly ripe! No matter – you can use whatever you have on hand. I wasn’t about to let the mangoes win. Mangoes are mangoes, though, and although they are in the of this dish, the true key is in the sauce, which is made up of my favorite flavor combination: sugar + fish sauce + acid + heat. I used brown sugar instead of white sugar, lime juice for the acid, and crushed chile flakes for the heat. I also added in a bit of the chile pepper puree I had leftover from my shrimp pozole, but that’s just what I did. Add more spice, add more sugar, add more lime – it’s really up to you. This is a no cook, toss and eat kind of salad, which is my favorite kind. Kramer and I ate this for lunches with some sliced steak on top, and when the steak ran out, we ate it with chickpeas instead. The flavors are light and fresh, perfect for a pick-me-up on a dreary winter day, or as a side that travels well for a spring or summer picnic. The bright colors alone are enough to make you want to dig in and taste a bit of Thailand.
This salad is simple – just toss everything together!
Garnish with some extra peanuts and enjoy.
- ¼ cup seaweed, soaked and drained
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- juice of 3 limes
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 2 large mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced (AKA julienned)
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
- First, soak your seaweed according to package instructions. Generally, you will just need to cover the seaweed in a medium sized bowl with hot water and allow it to sit for 20 minutes or so, until it absorbs the water. Drain the seaweed and set it aside.
- Whisk together your brown sugar, fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chile flakes. Set aside.
- Peel and julienne (thinly slice) your mangoes. Toss the thinly sliced mangoes with your sliced red onion, scallions and ½ cup of salted peanuts. Add in the seaweed. Toss everything with your sauce mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Allow the salad to sit, covered and in the refrigerator, at least an hour before serving. This will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.