We’ve had family visiting from out of town this week and I’ve taken a step back from head-chef duties. Why did I never learn to cook? Because I came from a family where everyone else did it for me. I go with the flow, and if my mom feels like doing the cooking for us while she’s here, who am I to stop her? I love my mom’s cooking! Besides, my dad is a lot like my Picky Eater child (they’re both Cancers, coincidentally, is food-fickleness a trait of cancerians?).
Anywho, I still had two meals to impress our visitors with my new skills in the kitchen, and the first meal was one my dad wasn’t likely to reject outright. When we would all go out as a family to Chinese restaurants, my dad only ever ordered one thing: Beef Stir-Fry with Snowpeas. It’s his safety food in a confusing sea of ‘ethnicity’. I hope my tone of sarcasm can be heard here; having actually traveled to China to compare authentic Chinese to the American-Chinese hybrid cooking many of us grew up on, my poor dad has no idea…
But I don’t want to talk about Chinese food yet, instead, the whole lead-up was to present to you one fact, and that fact is that my dad hates mushrooms. He won’t even bother picking mushrooms out of a meal. The dish has been tainted and he will go hungry and wait for something later. So when Shitake Mushrooms are a featured ingredient in Blue Apron’s stir-fry recipe and my dad’s coming to dinner, it means I have to make alterations. They stayed in the nice little Blue Apron box, tucked safe out of sight in the fridge while the remaining ingredients came together for a tasty dinner enjoyed by all.
To begin, I learned an important lesson in kitchen tool safety. There are a couple cooking accoutrements you can get away with not keeping in top, precision order. Knives? Sure it helps when they’re sharp, but they get the job done for the most part even when dull. Blender? Yeah the blade is more efficient when it’s new, but sometimes chunky smoothies are good too. Vegetable peelers, however, should remain deadly sharp. They just won’t work otherwise. And you should, at all costs, avoid dropping on one your bare foot.
I chopped and sliced the carrots, cabbage, and scallions, and minced the ginger in the mini-food processor. The rice cooked with three cups of water and simmered for 30 minutes. I seasoned it after cooking with the juice from two limes to give it a little tanginess. I would have normally softened the carrots with the mushrooms, but since those were non-existent, I only had to cook the carrots for about 2 minutes in the pan before adding the other veggies. Then it was time to season the beef with salt and pepper and coat it in cornstarch.
While the rice finished cooking, I added a robust black bean sauce and soy sauce to the stir-fry. Overall, this dinner cooked quickly and was full of flavor that fortunately everyone, guests included, enjoyed. It wasn’t spicy at all, really the only concern I had. I’m happy that this meal satisfied the pickiest of eaters well set in his ways. There was enough beef in each portion to go around and this recipe is an easy one to make when I’m short on time in the future.
What did I do with all the left-over mushrooms?
Find out in the next entry!