The Hill Cumorah Pageant starts in a few hours. Our house guests left a few minutes ago to watch the pageant. Hill Cumorah Pageant is a huge deal around here, and the 2012 pageant is the 75th year, so it is even a bigger deal.
Rather than having a date night tonight, Elizabethe and I had a date day. We returned to the Cantonese Market and bought a bunch of sesame balls to freeze. We also bought a few other items to restock the pantry.
They did not have any red curry paste, so we headed to Lee’s Oriental Foods (also in Rochester). I found my red curry paste there, as well as some baby bok choi and chow fun noodles. (Yes, both ended up on the dinner table tonight.)
I should have been born Chinese. I love Chinese food. I realize a lot of what we get in Chinese restaurants is very Americanized, but I love the flavors.
Too many people don’t have a clue about cooking Chinese food. I remember my mom’s sweet-n-sour was soggy, as were any of the other so-called Chinese dishes she prepared. The only thing with real texture were those canned fried noodles… which I have never seen in a Chinese restaurant…. ever!
So, I am about to disclose the secret for cooking food that will taste like it came from a Chinese restaurant. But, first, you’ll need some ingredients. I’m going to keep this very simple. Here’s what you want to have in your cupboard:
- soy sauce – I like lighter soy sauces. They have less salt and a milder, but fuller, flavor. I like tamari soy sauce for that reason. Also Kikoman Lite is good too.
- Oyster sauce – No, it does not taste like oysters, and it is not fishy either. It is a thick brown sauce with a sweet-salty flavor.
- Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine (but you can find non-alcoholic versions as I have). To me, it taste like very sweet pinapple.
- Sriracha sauce – this is a sweet chili sauce.
- White (or brown) long grain (not par boiled) rice – add 1 cup rice to about 1 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a full boil. Put a lid on the pan, and turn off the heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes, covered, while it soaks up the water.
- Peanut or cooking oil – just every day cooking oil. You can use a light olive oil if that’s your thing.
Now, here is the big secret. It is all in the order and speed in which you do things. Oh, and a wok or large fry pan with sloping sides is the best way to cook your food. So, pay attention to the order here…
- In a bowl, prepare your sauce. Oyster sauce by itself is often good enough for newbies. If you want to jazz up the oyster sauce, add some ginger, garlic, sriracha sauce, marin, etc. Stir it up, but don’t add so much stuff that it is runny. You want it thick. Make sure you taste it so you know it taste good. But, if you’re just starting, just add some oyster sauce to a bowl (about 1 cup worth)
- Get your wok on the stove and add a couple tablespoons of oil. Heat the wok until the oil starts to smoke a little, and then carefully place your meat in the wok and stir it around until browned and cooked.
- Place your meat in a bowl
- Place your veggies in the wok and just warm them up while keeping them moving. You don’t want them cooked or wilted.
- Dump the veggies over the meat
- Put your sauce in the wok until it bubbles
- Pour the hot sauce over your veggies and meat
- Toss and serve immediately (with the rice you already prepared)
Mirin, Sriracha, Soy and Oyster Sauces
If you end up with a bunch of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, you didn’t work fast enough. Don’t cook the veggies, meat and sauce together. That will just make a gloppy mess. Keep it all apart until the end and then toss like you would a salad.
If you want something more spicy, add a squirt of sriracha sauce right before you toss. Sweeter? Add a spoon full of mirin before tossing.
It’s really pretty easy.
Here’s a suggestion for your first attempt:
Meat: chicken breast (raw) cut in to bite sized pieces
Sauce: Oyster sauce
Veggies: 1/2 onion cut in to 1″ squares, 1 baby bok choi head (leaves separated in to individuals), 1 small zucchini cut in to 1/8″ slices
Cook the chicken in the hot oil, and then put in the bowl Place the veggies (except for bok choi) in the hot wok and warm them up. Dump them in the bowl with the meat and bok choi and cover with the oyster sauce and then toss. Serve with steamed rice.
Told you it is easy.