I like green beans cooked this way: Parboil the cleaned beans for about 4 or 5 minutes then dump them in an ice bath to quickly stop them cooking. I drain them and put them aside until right before dinner is due then saute them in oil with garlic and ginger. I use olive oil with a wee drop of sesame oil for the flavor, and add a dollop of oyster sauce right at the end before plating. The sesame seeds are a garnish, optional.
For the lo mein dish the chicken marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and a spoonful of chili garlic paste with some cornstarch. I make a brown sauce that is pretty much the same as the marinade plus a slug of chicken stock. To prepare the dish, heat some oil in a wok, add chopped onions and frozen peas, garlic and ginger, and add the chicken with its marinade. Leave it alone in the hot wok for a minute or two without tossing and it’ll brown nicely. Add the cooked and drained noodles and stir to combine, add the brown sauce and stir and toss as it thickens.
I was browsing among various recipes for green beans and noticed a call for Chinese five spice in one of them and wondered if I had the ingredients to make my own. Yes! – or at least close enough for my purposes. I looked over several recipes and they all had the same ingredients with a few variations: Star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns. Some used Szechuan peppercorns and others called for the more familiar black peppercorns, one recipe used cassia bark in lieu of the cinnamon, there were differences in the ratios so I just eyeballed mine as I loaded them into my little spice grinder. I ended up with about a quarter cup of some great smelling stuff.Those are the Szechuan peppercorns between the cinnamon sticks. They have an interesting effect in the mouth, some heat and a numbing sensation on the lips. Another name for them is prickly ash seed.
After all of that, I used about a teaspoon of the spice powder in the soy sauce marinade of the chicken for the green bean dish pictured above. That was a simple enough recipe, the most prep went into the sauce: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup chicken stock, a tablespoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of rice vinegar with a little corn starch to thicken it in the pan. I steamed the beans for five minutes while the chicken was cooking then added them to the pan with the chicken and then poured in the sauce and cooked until it thickened, a few more minutes.
Wikipedia tells me that “lo mein” translates from the Cantonese to “stirred noodles”. This dish had chicken breast chunks and shrimp with broccoli, onions, and carrots along with rehydrated mushrooms that I bought dried. I’ve learned to simmer them for at least an hour before they are anywhere near tender enough to eat, and don’t try to save the stems. I simmered these with the dried cayenne peppers, and used the broth from that in making the brown sauce. I ran across a good discussion of brown sauces here. Mine has dark soy, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken paste in that mushroom stock, a little chili paste, tamari, and a lot of garlic. I sweeten ours with Splenda but sugar is more common.
Chicken and red bell pepper and a sliced onion combine with a spicy brown sauce to make an excellent noodle dish. The sauce is the real story here, some beef broth, a dash of dark soy sauce, a good heaping tablespoon of chili garlic paste, a couple teaspoons worth of crushed red pepper flakes, a little Splenda for sweetness and a teaspoon or two of corn starch for a thickener and the dish just came together. Great tasting stuff.
Most of the fun cooking these things is coming up with a sauce. I had lots of fun today. Started with a cup of chicken stock, poured in some sesame oil, about a tablespoon. I have some tamarind paste that has been skulking in the refrigerator door for months. I scooped about two tablespoons into the mix. Added half a tablespoon of ginger root paste. A few dried red peppers. Hmm…need some corn starch, two tablespoons ought to do it. A splash of dark soy sauce, maybe a tablespoon. Two tablespoons of hoisin sauce. Maybe some Splenda for sweetness? Yup…maybe two tablespoons. Ah, some dry sherry, another glug added. OK, simmer for a bit, set aside. It’ll be the last thing to go into the pan. I’ll let the pictures do the rest.
We bought some asparagus yesterday and decided to use some of it up fast this time rather than wait for the tips to go all gooey on us. These are the skinniest spears I’ve ever seen, no clue where they came from or how they were grown. I was pretty sure I could make a decent stir fry out of the asparagus and some chicken breast but it’s always a good idea to Google recipes just to see if you can pick up any new and hot trends. Alas, didn’t see anything new. Did look real hard at this recipe. My eye was caught by the brown sauce and marinade recipes. I’m a sucker for a new brown sauce and this one seemed nice enough. I copied both sauces. The chicken and onions went into the marinade, and the brown sauce (with the addition of some corn starch) went over everything at the end. Having fun with my julienning peeler, too.