Coast through life with this Hibiscus Apple and Cabbage Salad with Fish Sauce Dressing (Recipe)

"The past is already gone, the future is not yet here." - Buddha 

"The past is already gone, the future is not yet here." - Buddha 

Some people are masters of change. I’m not. Despite appearances, like my tendency to switch jobs and cycle through boyfriends as quickly as I update my coiffe, I’m actually freaked out by the things I can’t control. Instead of resignation, I resist. Instead of acceptance, I deny. There’s a reason why I’m so fanatically addicted to daily horoscopes, WebMD, and self-help books. And those warning labels on cigarette packs. The British ones are the best, by the way, with those photos of ashy, rotting lungs. The more brutal the prognosis, the better prepared I am.

Six years ago I was fired from a job. My boss and I really didn’t get along, and on top of that, I was grossly overpaid. Instead of letting the horror movie play out, I concluded way early on that she’d eventually let me go. For months thereafter, I’d show up at work with my shoulders slumped, rocking a perma-frown. It was the world’s longest professional breakup. And of course, she did gave me the boot. Looking back, could I have been less miserable every day leading up to the inevitable? Probably. Did anticipating the inevitable soften the blow? Nope.

Two years ago, my mom told me the doctors had found a malignant tumor in her thymus gland. But didn’t Po-Po just die of lung cancer? I’d finally had enough of life’s sadistic surprises. I started spending countless hours on the internet and message boards; thirsty for answers, mistaking fallacies for truths. But no matter how much information I gleaned, she still had to live through it. And we lived through it.

A few months ago, I met a boy. Friends reassured me that “he’s a good one” but I already knew. Our eyes laughed together. Our smells intertwined and his scent followed me wherever I’d go. We dove into the romantic abyss courageously as if neither of us ever had experienced heartbreak before. No parachutes. No first aid kits. No backup plans.Just lots of barfy-lovely-fun. And then there was a bump. One bump became two. Instead of pushing forward, I decided to sit on the side of the road and anticipate all the hills, dams, construction we’d run into–meanwhile missing all of the breathtaking sights in the process. I’m tired of being so over-prepared.

I’m not a master of change. I won’t ever be. But I’m finally ready to enroll in this topsy-turvy, unpredictable, weird, slightly scary classroom called life and just coast through it.   


Hibiscus Apple and Cabbage Salad with Fish Sauce Dressing
Makes 4 Appetizer Servings
Sometimes the surprises that lie in your refrigerator can become the makings of a favorite new dish. This salad is filled with leftover ingredients that just needed a new look. As they say, when you have lemons, make lemonade. Or in this case, when you have hibiscus powder and apples, make pickles. When you have fish sauce and canola oil, make dressing. When you have carrots, make toasted carrot skin. Whaaaa???

Hibiscus-Pickled Apples

1 Tbs hibiscus powder
1 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbs coconut sugar
Himalayan sea salt
1 apple, thinly sliced

Toasted Carrot Skin
1 carrot
1 Tbs olive oil

Handful of walnuts, toasted

2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup pea shoots or sprouts
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions

Salad Dressing
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp honey
2 tsp minced shallots

For Hibiscus-Pickled Apples

Combine first four ingredients in small bowl and whisk until blended. Add sliced apples. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For Toasted Carrot Skin
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel carrot into long thin strips. Toss in bowl with olive oil. Placed on lined baking sheet. “Toast” in oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.

For Dressing
Combine all ingredient in a small bowl and whisk until blended or combine in a glass jar, and with the lid on, give it a few shakes to blend.

To assemble the salad, toss cabbage, walnuts, pea shoots, scallions, hibiscus-pickled apples with dressing. Then top with toasted carrot skin.  

Thinly slice those perfectly crisp Gala apples! 

Thinly slice those perfectly crisp Gala apples! 

Pickling the apples! Leftover hibiscus vinegar pickling liquid can be used for salad dressing! 

Pickling the apples! Leftover hibiscus vinegar pickling liquid can be used for salad dressing! 

Skinning the carrots. 

Skinning the carrots.