I first met Frances when we both played under 14 representative basketball together, she was 11, I was 12 and newly recruited for the last half of the season. Half the time I had no clue what I was doing, I had the speed, gall and talent but uncoached and directionless, I was ultimately pretty useless. Frances had way more athletic talent and also had the benefit of reps experience and thus she was actually good. Our team did end up winning the 1998 Sydney U14 division 2 championships that year (I still have the trophy and t-shirt to prove it). But sadly that also was the last HURRAH in my very short rep career.
Anyway the next year Francis also joined my high school and later on followed her passion for snowboarding, making it onto the Australian team. As I left school behind, we went our separate ways and didn’t meet again until almost a decade later.
And would you believe it…it was through tennis….at the 2011 Australian Open. It’s curious how life works out, we’re usually too busy to make time or to seek out people beyond our usual friendship or work circles but when fate aligns, I love randomly catching up with someone I haven’t seen since we were kids.
So in the intervening years, professional snowboarding didn’t quite work out and Frances actually went to a Spanish tennis academy and upon returning to Australia carved a career as a top flight youth tennis coach.
We got sick of bumping into each other only at the Australian Open, so this year we decided to make more of an effort to actually catchup during the year. So in between Frances’ busy surfie lifestyle and my laziness we did manage to make time for the occasional Sunday lunch. It’s also awesome having someone to test recipes on. This following effort is…I’m proud to say, entirely my own invention!
Vietnamese Inspired Mushroom Salad
1 cup Shittake Mushrooms
1 cup of Enoki Mushrooms
2 King mushrooms
2 small cucumbers
handful of bean sprouts
handful crushed peanuts
1/2 small bunch of coriander (cilantro)
1/2 small bunch of Vietnamese mint
1 small chilli
crispy shallots to serve
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 small chilli (roughly chopped)
1 clove garlic (roughly chopped)
Make the dressing first by combining the ingredients.
Wash and roughly chop all the mushrooms. Lightly sauté the mushrooms with a splash of oil on medium heat (until barely cooked). Set aside and cool.
Chop cucumbers into stick segments. Finely chop chilli. Roughly chop the herbs.
Toss everything together, dress to taste (I usually use around 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing). Garnish with crispy shallots or extra crushed peanuts.