xoFood: Winter 1-Pot Meals, Unauthentic Chinese Food Edition
Some meals seem to have a season. Gazpacho or cold sushi in the middle of summer are deeeelightful. Caramel apples whisper "fall" into your ear. In the coldest parts of winter, is there anything more comforting than digging into a bowl of chili or hearty sauce?
Sometimes, I suspect that throwing anything into a saute pan, tossing in some rice and stock will result in awesomeness. In the middle of winter, when my energy has to be conserved for knitting, sipping hot toddies, stoking the fire (this is a lie, I have a fake fireplace) and cuddling the dog, who wants to work harder in the kitchen?
While I’ve never put a ton of stock (see what i did there) into the mysterious joy of only using one pan (it's another dish to wash, BFD) I can understand the appeal in winter. I understand the overwhelming desire for simple dishes that can be made easily, with few ingredients and little time, particularly when they can be made for one person or extended into leftovers.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring my variations on some of these dishes for the waning weeks of winter. They are simple, delicious and easy. Which is great, because I’m beginning to consider wearing disguises when answering the door for food delivery guys. “Oh, no, you’re thinking of the OTHER person at this address. Oh, do you like moustaches?”
The basis of one pot meals are a base layer of starch. So before we can talk about what’s going on the starch, let's get that out of the way. People, I am here to tell you that Survivor is lying to you. RICE IS NOT HARD.
Step 1: Add 1 cup of rice to saucepan.
Step 2: Add 2 cups of water to saucepan.
Step 3: Bring to rolling boil.
Step 4: Cover, turn off stove, step away for 30 minutes.
BOOM. Rice. Done. Stop making it so fucking complicated. Now, can we make it better? Sure. Add stock instead of water. Saute the rice over medium heat in some butter, coconut oil or olive oil before adding the stock. Add pine nuts to the rice. Or garlic or ginger or whatever. But the recipe and ratios are not going to change. Add twice as much water as rice, bring to a boil, cover tightly, turn off and walk away.
Whew. I'm so glad that’s over.
I’ve got no unresolved feelings over calling myself a bitch to Chinese food. In any given town, I’ve got the local dumpling scene on lockdown. Before I moved out of Phoenix, I would get Christmas cards from my local delivery place. Handwritten. NOT KIDDING. When they arrived one day and saw the moving boxes in my house, I swear I saw tears on my delivery guy's face and I pictured them revisiting their annual budget upon his return to fully understand the impact of my absence on their yearly income.
The Chinese food scene in PDX may be ok, but the delivery scene sucks. So I’ve taken it upon myself to learn my favorite dish: Shrimp and Lobster Sauce. Don’t fret, the name is misnomer. There is no lobster in any Lobster Sauce I’ve ever had. It's really just shrimp and pork in a light sauce with egg, served over rice, and it's delicious. Depending on where you are, it might be a light (wine) sauce or a darker (soy sauce) sauce. I like mine somewhere in the middle. Also, this is like, not at all authentic, so cool your jets on the “this isn’t how my auntie from Bejing makes it!” I KNOW.
It's delicious, fast and impressive and YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT WITH ME. Really. I believe in you.
So, to start, here’s what you’ll need.
Shrimp & Lobster Sauce for 2 people
1 lb ground pork
½ lb raw shrimp (I went with 16/20 count, which is medium sized)
2 green onions
1 small knob of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1.5 cups of stock (your choice)
3 tbsp soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp mirin (but white wine would be ok in a pinch)
5 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp wheat starch (or rice flour or even real flour in a pinch)
1 tbsp brown sugar
Clean the shrimp. Don’t let this intimidate you. Sometimes they come from the market cleaned, but if not, here’s a tutorial. THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL. Toss the clean, dry shrimp with 2 tbsp of wheat starch and put aside.
Step 3: Mix together the oyster sauce, mirin, soy sauce and brown sugar. Place it next to the stovetop, with the pork, sesame oil and garlic/ginger.
Peel the garlic and ginger and dice. Heat a large saucepan on medium high and add the sesame oil. As soon as it's hot (flick some water in, does it sizzle? perfect), add the ginger and garlic and move around constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof stirring implement. 45 seconds later, add in your pork, still stirring constantly. Use the spoon to break up the pork as much as possible. Wait 1 minute then add in the soy/mirin/oyster sauce mixture. Stir constantly for the next 2-3 minutes until the pork is well broken up. Add the stock to the pan.
Step 4: Step away from the stove to break an egg into the bowl that held the sauce and scramble it. Grab the shrimp and bring them both to the stovetop.
Step 5: Add the shrimp to the pan and stir for 30 seconds, then add the egg and do the same, mixing constantly. Within a minute, you’ll see the sauce start to thicken and come together. As soon as the shrimp turn opaque and pink, turn the heat off, but leave the pan on the burner.
Step 6: Wait for rice to be done, then place some in a bowl, and layer the Shrimp and Lobster Sauce on top, and garnish with some chopped green onions.
DO IT DO IT DO IT. And then post about it below. Also, if you were my fortune cookie, what would you say?