After yesterday’s noodle stew, I had a hankering for Wonton Soup today, so at noon I took the bag of frozen Ling Ling pot stickers out of the freezer to see if they could be prepared as boiled dumplings and the package said that boiling them in water was the traditional method of preparation, rather than the microwave. The instructions said to bring a pot of water to a boil, then to add the pot stickers to the boiling water and to cook them until the water returned to a boil.Easy enough, so I filled to ¾ full a 2 quart sauce pan with water and started heating it. I added 1 Tbsp. dehydrated Knorr chicken stock, 2-3 Tbsps. chopped yellow onion, 1 carrot, and I diced Mexican Squash to make a chicken and vegetable broth. I then went to the garden and picked five or six stalks of garlic greens, 1 Japanese chili, and about ten leaves of Kale and chopped them up and put the garlic greens and chili in and put the kale aside for later addition. I forgot to put in sausage, but I added 1 Tbsp. each of Chinese Rice wine and sweet soy, a few drops of sesame oil and a dash of hot chili oil. I also removed a bag with about 1 lb. of pork meat from the fridge to thaw for dinner.
When the water and ingredients began to boil, which took about fifteen minutes, I added eight frozen pot stickers and the chopped kale and set the timer for 10 minutes and went to read. When the timer went off the pot stickers had almost come to a boil, so I cooked the soup for an additional five minutes to let the pot stickers and the vegetables really cook and served up about 1/3 of the soup with three pot stickers in a bowl. The soup broth was full of flavor and the dough surrounding the filling of the pot stickers fully cooked. I cut the pork pots tickers in half to help mix their meat flavor with the broth and to soften the dough.
This turned out to be a surprisingly hearty meal and a welcome addition to my noodle lunches. The only negative was that the pork filling in the dumplings had a lot of black pepper in it that interfered with the delicate flavor of the vegetable and chicken broth. Next time I may add mushrooms and miso and seaweed to make a more Japanese style super broth.
At 5:00 I rode a few miles but my tire went flat from a slow leak, so I returned home at 5:40 to find that Suzette had arrived home and made a guacamole dip with avocado and sour cream and was dipping corn chips. For some reason I was exceedingly hungry, perhaps from the lack of breakfast, so I took the two remaining PPI boiled artichokes and the dipping sauce I had made a few days ago with mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic greens and tarragon out of the fridge and freshen it up with a bit more mayonnaise and olive oil and sat down with Suzette and we shared our two snacks as we watched news shows and the beginning of Game 6 of the World Series.When we were in Boston on September 3, 2013, we attended the Boston Red Sox v. the New York Yankees game, which Boston won 1 to 0. The pitching and defensive play in that game made us believe that Boston had a terrific team and a chance to win the World Series and we have been Boston fans ever since, for at least this year. So we were excited and when Suzette and I discussed what to make for dinner and she mentioned the thawed pork meat as an ingredient, I suggested using the Mexican squash and onions and making a stir fry. Suzette said she would cook dinner while I meditated and have it ready for me when I returned home.
When I returned home around 8:30 I was greeted by a covered wok of steaming pork, squash and sugar snap peas in garlic sauce on the stove and Game Six in the Sixth Inning and Boston was up 6-0 on the TV.We became more excited when we realized that this could be the game with which Boston won the World Series. The other exciting thing was that Suzette had made one of our favorite Chinese stir fry dishes Pork and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, except she had substituted Mexican Squash and Sugar Snap Peas for the eggplant. Here is the original recipe for the dish:
The Eggplant and Garlic Sauce recipe (page 169) is in the new Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking Cookbook Suzette bought me for Christmas last year. The author, Eileen Yin Fei Lo, cooks with a style that adds fragrance to the food by adding small amounts of rice cooking wine to many recipes, rather than overpowering them with lots of flavoring.Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.
You first make the Sauce (This is the recipe from the book but we doubled this recipe because we had two pounds of eggplant and some other ingredients we were adding to the dish.)1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Oyster Sauce1 tsp. white rice wine vinegar
½ tsp. Shaoxing wine½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot oil (we reduce this to avoid making the dish too spicy)
½ tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of chicken stockThen I sliced the large Chinese Eggplant into three inch by ½ inch strips (about two pounds) and 1/3 of a medium onion and about ¼ cup of red bell pepper and Suzette sautéed those until tender in 1/4 cup peanut oil as needed. Suzette stir fried three batches of eggplant strips (the recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant strips in 4 cups of peanut oil, but we never use that much oil), but she used ¼ per batch for a total of ¾ cup for all the eggplant, onion and red bell pepper.
After Suzette had cooked the eggplant, onion and bell pepper, she stir fried the garlic and then added the 1 lb. of cooked fish with one chopped up one baby bok choy. Then she returned the eggplant mixture to the wok and stir fried it with the meat mixture for a minute and then made a well in the middle of the ingredients and added the sauce and cooked the eggplant mixture for a minute or two while I was stir frying the vegetable dish.Suzette told me that the Mexican squash did not absorb as much oil as eggplant and thus tonight’s dish was not as oily. Suzette heated some PPI boiled rice from the fridge and she ladled the stir fry garlic sauce dish over the rice and we ate and watched as Boston struggled with its pitching in the seventh or eighth inning and allowed St. Louis to score one run and begin to mount a tepid rally that faltered as Boston re-asserted its defensive game and won the World Series to the exuberant cheers from the huge crown that filled Fenway Park and all of New England.
After a good game and meal we were ready to go to bed after the Colbert Report and Jon Stewart show, although I made myself a vanilla ice cream Sunday with poached pears and chocolate sauce for dessert to celebrate Boston’s victory.As I read the new New Yorker at lunch today I saw an ad for Alice Water's new cookbook, "The Art of Simple Food" and it made me think that that is what our diet has turned into, cooking simply what is available fresh. And that made me think about dinner and how we had substituted fresh available ingredients for a traditional ingredient within the framework of a Chinese cooking method to make a delicious although not identical dish to the classical formulation of the dish. That reinforced my belief that using available fresh ingredients is not only at the core of Alice Waters' redefinition of Modern American Cuisine, but at the core of every great cuisine in the world. Also, I would consider the two dishes above to be simple food; dishes prepared without a lot of elaborate prep and presentation, where the ingredients form the core of the dish. The two dishes above seem to provide evidence to me of that approach. I guess I will need to investigate what Alice Waters considers simple food. I would like to think we are defining "simple" in a similar manner.