Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't overcompensate with soy sauce!

Today, as usual, I cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my little family. Our "baby" girls are getting pickier by the day. It seems that they will only eat fresh avocados, mangoes, bananas, select cheeses, yogurt and occasionally chicken. All other foods are thrown to the floor and followed with tears. I find myself asking, "how did I let this happen? I read all of the Pearl's child training materials!" Perhaps it happened out of convenience, those things are all healthy and easy to prepare. Cooking separate meals for babies is a lot of work. "Why not feed them what you eat?" Well, until recently our diet generally consisted of very spicy home cooked meals, rare steaks, and take out. None of which are baby friendly. But I digress. Hopefully, over the next week my girls will start eating a more varied diet. For now, they have to eat the stockpile of mangoes and avocados in the kitchen.

Around 4:30 as Michael was still deep in the matrix (writing code), he told me that he wanted Chinese food for dinner and since we are now budgeters, that I should cook up something Chinese, and fast, because he was ravenous... And ravenous men are mean! Here is my take on a take-out classic.

Chinese Take Out Flickinger Style

You will need
Time: >1 hour

3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup or more of oil for frying
2 eggs
2 chicken breasts
1 cup (or more) broccoli
1 onion cut into eighths
1 shallot sliced thin
4 cloves of garlic sliced thin
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 parts schezuan sauce
1 part soy sauce
1 part hoisin sauce

1. Set up 3 bowls
Bowl 1 corn starch, bowl 2 eggs, beaten, bowl 3 flour
2. Season the flour with salt, pepper, and paprika to your liking. Be generous.
3. Heat up the cooking oil in a deep skillet. I used our cast iron because it holds heat so well. Fill the oil up about an inch and a half, so that the chicken will be half submerged in the oil as it cooks.
4. Dredge the chicken in the corn starch, eggs, and then flour.
5. Fry the chicken until it lifts clean off the skillet and is golden brown. Flip and repeat. I wasn't paying attention as I cooked but I think its about 10 minutes a side.
6. While the chicken is cooking, saute the broccoli, onion, shallot and garlic in a wok or other large pan with olive oil. It is wise to season the oil itself with the salt and pepper. It imparts a greater flavor to your food.
7. Once you've flipped the chicken, the house smells amazing, and the dog is so close that you've tripped over him 3 times its time to mix up the sauce! Any Asian style finishing sauce will do but for this meal I prefer a schezuan sauce mixed with 1 part soy sauce and 1 part hoisin. The schezuan alone is very spicy, but when tempered with soy sauce and the sweetness of hoisin, its just amazing. Stir some sauce into your saute and drizzle the rest over the chicken once its plated.
8. Hopefully you made yourself some white rice along the way!

Serve the chicken on a bed of white rice with the veggies on the side or mixed in with the rice.

This whole meal took me just less than an hour from start to finish, including all prep, distractions, dragging highchairs onto the back porch, and setting the table.

A word of caution! In my efforts to be the best, most economical wife, I used extra soy sauce because we were out of hoisin and probably won't be buying any more this month. What a mistake! If you don't have all the delicious sauces that make this meal ideal just cut back all together. Too much soy made the meal too wet and too salty.