Tuesday, August 10, 2010

impressing on no time, no effort, and just a little bit of creativity.

so i don't know if you're like me, but when my mom comes to visit, i want to impress her with my stellar housekeeping skills. somehow i think that it's my way of proving that she did a good job. as if i am saying "look mom! i can cook! i can do dishes! i can take care of myself and my family! YAY!"

it's probably some sort of warped psychological need for approval or something, but there you go.

but with that desire comes pressure. normally, musicboy is pretty easy to please. he likes meat, but he'll roll with whatever i want.  breakfast for dinner? sweet.  black bean burgers out of the freezer depths? neat! he is positive guy.

mom is easy to please too, but i feel the aforementioned pressure to do more and be IMPRESSIVE.

normally, in my mind, that means i must slave away. but lately, i've been nothing but not excited to spend time in the kitchen, so i'm going to share with you my secret go-to weapon of looking like you're impressive but really expending very little effort at all.

here's what you'll need to make what has been universally declared DELICIOUS, or what we call spicy sticky sweet chicken/pork in this house:

  • about 1 pound of white meat (i normally cut use boneless skinless chicken breast or inexpensive pork chops that i cut off the bones) 
  • 1 package of spaghetti-like noodles (i've used angel hair or thin spaghetti)
  • a vegetable of your choice that goes well with soy sauce (i usually use broccoli, but cauliflower, carrots, sugar snap peas, or really almost anything like that would work well--but broccoli IS a superfood)
  • honey
  • soy sauce (remember the sodium content of this--it will already be salty, so don't add any additional salt)
  • ginger (fresh or powdered from your spice rack)
  • hot sauce
  • garlic (again, fresh or powdered from your spice rack)
  • parmesan cheese
now, i'm a "i throw things together and taste them and then add until it tastes better" kind of cook, but here's the general idea of how to make the marinade.

  • create a base of soy sauce. to feed three of us, i used about 1/2 cup of soy sauce. you'll want to adjust based on how much sauce you want left over.
  • add about a teaspoon of honey to begin with. you may add more if you want it to taste sweeter.
  • add about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and garlic to begin with.  you really will need to tinker with the spices to your individual taste. i usually end up adding additional garlic if it tastes too much like soy for my particular taste.
  • add three or four splashes of hot sauce, depending on how spicy your family likes it. don't be afraid of the hot sauce--even if you don't like spice, it's a necessary element to balance the other flavors.
just mix them all together.  add the meat and let it marinate for about 15 minutes.  during this time, get your water started for the noodles and chop up your vegetables (or get them prepared for steaming).

when you think that the meat has marinated enough to gather some flavor (if you're using chicken, the easiest way to tell is to see if the chicken has changed color to adopt the dark color of the marinade), throw it in a pan.  DO NOT PUT ALL OF THE MARINADE WITH IT.  trust me.  essentially, you're just going to stirfry this meat over about medium/medium-high heat; by this time, your noodles should already be in and you should start your vegetables.

when you cook it, you want the heat to be high enough to cook the meat, but not so high that the sauce in the meat begins to burn.  if you keep it at medium/medium-high, you should see the sauce bubbling and creating a liquid to braise the meat in. 

once the meat is cooked, add the marinade.  YOU CANNOT SERVE THIS SAUCE UNTIL YOU'VE BOILED IT, since it's been with raw meat. if you boil it, however, it will be safe to eat.  this should be the last step, and while you're doing this, you can take your noodles off of the stove and drain them. 

when the meat has boiled a bit in the marinade (keep the heat at the same level), turn it off.  serve the meat over the noodles, with spoonfuls of sauce.  serve the vegetable on the side. 

i often add parmesan cheese to my noodles, and it adds a nice complementary flavor to the asian zing of the dish.

it may sound like a strange dish, and i wish that i would think ahead to take pictures of these yummy things i'm making, but it's a really easy dish to make and it impresses.

from start to finish, it's probably a 30 minute meal.  take that, rachael ray!

1 comment:

  1. I am the same way when my mom comes...except I tend to give her a 50 page list of stuff to bring me or plan to help me with. :)