Thursday, January 31, 2013
Of all the cuisines I've attempted, I think I find Asian meals to be the hardest. The layering of flavors and dozens of ingredients and spices... I've made some okay curry and pad thai in the past, and I've experimented with faux-pho, tofu, and fried rice. The thing with experiments is that you may fail, but you'll always learn something. With the faux-pho, I learned that there is no substitution for real pho (seriously - just don't even try to play me). Tofu was... messy. I couldn't the sear on stir fry quite right. And my first attempt at fried rice? The carrots were at the awkward stage in between cooked and raw. The rice wasn't really "fried" as "turn brown from sauce" and the sauce just wasn't quite rice. It had too many ingredients - fish sauce and soy sauce and teriyaki and a lot of ginger. Just not good.
It's not that I grew up with homemade Chinese food, or even particularly good Chinese food. We had Chinese frequently growing up. And the problem with ordering it for two people is that then you have to eat for lunch and dinner for 3 days straight in order to get the dishes you like.
And to top it all off - there are peas everywhere. I don't mean the snap peas or pea pods... but peas. They're in egg drop soup, in fried rice, and under the one piece of chicken that you didn't compulsively inspect and got a surprise of the night. Yuck. I set out to make fried rice that I didn't need to pick at (hence Experiment and Failure #1). Let me tell you, though - sometimes you don't need three tries to get a success because #2 hit it out of the park for me. The chicken marinade gave enough seasoning to the dish without overpowering anything. I enjoyed exactly what I wanted, no peas, and no fighting over if we should get sweet and sour chicken or not.
1 lb. chicken breast (boneless, skinless, sliced thin)
1 tsp mince ginger
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1 Tbl soy sauce
1/2 Tbl worchestire sauce
2 Tbl rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine all of the above in a plastic bag or large bowl. Toss to coat. Marinate for about 30 min to 2 hours. **Because of the vinegar, this is not a great marinade for extended periods, like overnight**
1 small onion, minced
5 medium carrots, peeled and minced
1 cup edamame seeds, thawed if frozen
8 oz shitake mushroom, stems removed and diced (may substitute any mushroom of preference)
2 cups cooked rice (I used white, brown would also be good, or quinoa)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Soy sauce for serving
1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil, just a few turns of the pan. While the pan heats up, cut the marinated chicken into 1/2" pieces. Add the chicken (not the juice) to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes before tossing around. Cook thoroughly (about 6-10 minutes total). Remove from pan and set aside.
2. If necessary, add another swirl of peanut oil, if necessary. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes before adding the carrots. Cook, stirring occassionally, for about 8 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to soften. Add the edamame and mushrooms. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the rice to the pan. Stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Once the rice begins to crisp, make a well in the middle of the pan by pushing everything to the sides. Add the egg is to well. Stir constantly until egg is scrambled (as long as the pan is still hot, this will be quick). Then toss everything in the pan together, and add back the chicken. Stir until warmed through. Serve with a drizzle of soy sauce, and enjoy!