Cooking in the Twilight Hours
I often find Myself cooking between two and four in the morning. Not sure why, but this is when the proliferation of stir-fried creations tends to happen. In this case, a very simple set of ingredients lead to yet another delicious meal. Chicken in a salty caramel sauce, lightly fried veggies, caramelized onions and peppercorn rice. The chicken is a bit of a rip on a Vietnamese style Ga Kho, or as most of us call it, hot and spicy chicken. I simply omitted the fish sauce, lemongrass and ginger instead using seasoned salt. The rice was quite nice. It’s subtle, like sushi rice, until You bite on a peppercorn. If You use white pepper, it will be quite spicy. Other varieties emit a mild peppery flavor, but most of the bite dissipates while cooking. The onions took Me three hours to get to that amazingly sweet, gooey texture. If You skip that part however, this meal can be prepared and cooked in thirty to fourty-five minutes. Even faster if You make the chicken in one pan and the veggies in another.
For starters, chop up 2 medium to large onions and cook over low heat until caramalized and set aside. Don’t worry if it looks like a lot when You start, they will be dramatically reduced as You cook. This can take hours, but it is so worth it.
In Your rice cooker, or pot, add 1 cup of rice and 1 tbsp whole peppercorns, mix until the pepper is evenly dispersed. Then add 1.5 cups of water and 1 tsp of rice vinegar. Mix thoroughly and cook until the rice has reached Your desired texture.
While the rice is cooking, thinly slice a medium sized carrot and fry over medium heat to Your liking and remove from the pan. Then, stir fry 1 cup of brocolli with 1 cloves worth of minced garlic and a splash of soy sauce. Once finished, remove from the pan and wipe it clean.
Now, over high heat, stir fry 2 chopped up chicken thighs with 1 tsp rice vinegar, half a tbsp of lowry’s seasoned salt and 2 tbsp(or more!) of brown sugar. Cook until You have a thick brown caramel glaze and You are done. Enjoy!
Double Pork Fried Rice
One of humanity’s most varied edibles. After a decade or more of experimenting and constantly trying different things, I have settled on a flavor arrangement closer to americanized asian restaurant versions of this classic home-style favorite. The sweet soy sauce, or alternately kecap manis, combined with rice vinegar and soy sauce is the winning formula at a great many asian restaurants here in North America. For Me, Simply add eggs, sweet peas and bacon, everything else is optional. The following recipe is my dressed up version which is very much a stand alone meal. Adding chili powder for increased depth to the rice it’s self, while also including carrots and onions, along with savory marinated pork. By cooking these things separately and mixing them together only at the end, You get a wonderful burst of the different ingredient’s flavors in every bite. Serves 4 as a main dish or 6+ as a side dish.
Supplies Needed: Large Wok or Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board
2 cups of White Rice, steamed or boiled(slightly undercooked, or day old rice is best)
1 pound or so of Pork, Your choice of cut, chopped into half inch pieces(or smaller)
One third of a pound of Bacon, sliced into pieces a quarter inch wide
3 medium sized Carrots, sliced thinly
1 large Onion, chopped as well..
Half of a bag of Frozen Sweet Peas
4 tbsp of Soy Sauce
4 tbsp of Sweet Soy Sauce or Honey, or 1+ tbsp of Sugar)
3 tbsp of Rice Vinegar
1 or 2 fresh Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of Chili Powder Blend
1 packet of Chinese Barbeque(Char Siu, Red Pork) Seasoning
Cooking Oil as needed
Prep and Cooking:
You will need to marinate the pork in the chinese seasoning for 30 minutes or more before cooking, over night in the fridge is best. Once it has soaked in the flavors, remove from the marinade and stir fry on high heat until fully cooked. I preffer a bit of charring on My red pork. Remove from the pan and set it aside for now. Rinse out the pan before continuing.
Over medium heat, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, remove, wipe any extra residue from the pan, then stir fry the bacon to Your liking and remove from the pan. There should be plenty of bacon grease now. You can poor off the excess, or just leave it all in. Stir fry the carrots until they start to soften, then add the onion and cook until the desired texture is reached. Remove from pan. Next, put the cooked rice into the pan, adding all of the remaining seasonings. Stir until everything is evenly mixed in, add the frozen peas and stir until they have thawed. Turn off the burner mix everything You have cooked together in the pan and serve.
Things go much faster using a skillet and a wok at the same time. Cooking the bacon, then veggies, followed by the rice in the wok and the eggs and then meat in another pan. Mixing it all into the wok at the end.
Marinated Pork with Peas
This is a particularly versatile flavor combination. Over the years, I have used it on cuts of pork from ribs, to tenderloin. I have also used it for marinating whole chickens prior to smoking them, as well as chicken stir fries and with veggie and shrimp dishes. It’s always a hit! The bitter punch of the time tested ginger/lemongrass match up, balanced by savory, salty and sweet elements, creates a lovely experience which is sure to satisfy the taste buds of all who consume it. Having done no research, I just assume this marinade was devised in China. It is pretty close to many common ‘bbq’ and ‘Sweet and Sour’ pork recipes found in south-east asia. I’m listing it as a stir-fry recipe, but the marinade is suited to nearly any cooking method one may choose. Eat this recipe with rice, or try serving it over a baked potato! Serves 4.
Supplies Needed: Large Ziplock bag or Bowl for marinating, Wok or Large Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board
1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin, or de-boned chops, sliced into thin strips
1 large onion, chopped to Your liking
Half a bag or more of frozen sugar snap peas
3 tbsp of fresh ginger root, minced
2 tbsp of garlic, minced
6 inches or so of fresh lemongrass, at least half an inch thick, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
4 tbsp of cooking sherry
2-3 tbsp of soy sauce
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp mild chili pepper powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Prep and Cooking:
Mix all but the peas and onion together in a resealable bag, or large mixing bowl. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes, allowing it to marinate over night will deliver the best flavor. Heat Your pan on high and put ALL the ingredients in. Stir fry until the meat and onion are cooked and the liquids thicken up into a sauce. Remove from heat, discard the lemongrass chunks and serve.
Don’t worry if You can’t get high enough heat to thicken the sauce in the time it takes for the other ingredients to cook. Just soak it up with some rice or bread, or remove everything else from the pan and cook the sauce til it’s thickened then mix everything back together.
Hot chili sauce is a great replacement for ketchup in this recipe too.
Mom’s Fried Green Beans
Based on the deep-fried green beans found in many Chinese restaurants, My Mom devised Her own version that’s easier to make at home. Which, since it’s not deep-fried, is a much healthier proposition as well. These beans are simply delicious! I can eat an entire batch of them as a meal!
Supplies Needed: A Large, high sided, nonstick(or well seasoned) Fry Pan that has a close fitting cover.
2 lbs of fresh Green Beans – ends trimmed and washed
1/4 cup of thick Teriyaki Sauce OR Hoisin Sauce
4 large Cloves of Garlic – minced
1 tblsp of Lemon Pepper
2 tblsp Peanut/Canola/Veggie Oil
half a cup or so of Water
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Prep and Cooking:
On high heat, put the clean Beans, a bit of the Oil, and the Water in a Pan(You may need to add more Water depending on the size of the Beans). Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-high heat until the beans are ‘al dente.’ Uncover, pour off any extra water and turn to high heat. Add the Garlic and Teriyaki Sauce, with Salt and Pepper to Your liking. Stir Fry it to mix the Sauce around. Continue cooking, tossing frequently, until the Sauce caramelizes and the Beans begin to brown. Serve immediately.