Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back in the kitchen

In the weeks since I began writing my thesis, I stopped being interested in cooking. It happens to the best of us, I suppose: Suddenly, there is no thrill to be gotten out of taking out the pots and pans, and grabbing take-out becomes a regular means of procuring nourishment. After doing this for several weeks, I decided that it was high time I got back in the kitchen, and as of yesterday, I decided that I am not going to eat out for one month. (Exceptions include special occasions, like my cousin's wedding in two weeks, and if someone else is paying.)

So I began cooking again by whipping up what has become sort of a go-to dish for me: Andrea Nguyen's asparagus and shiitake stir-fry. I first ate this last year at a house where I was doing child care; the dad was test-driving the recipe for the author. He made it using yard-long beans instead of asparagus, and the fact that I actually wanted to eat string beans when they were prepared this way assured me that this was an excellent recipe. (This was also how I first heard about Nguyen's book.) I've since made it myself a number of times, using both beans and asparagus, and I once turned it into a main dish by throwing some tofu in. This morning, I made a light lunch of it by putting it over rice and topping the whole thing with a fried egg.

Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Stir-Fry
Man Tay Xao Nam Huong

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
6 to 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstitued (Nguyen recommends soaking them overnight, but I put them in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes, and they turn out fine) and cut into 1/4-inch strips

1/2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 tbsp water

In a large pot filled with salted, boiling water, parboil the asparagus for one minute. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Mix the last five ingredients together to make the sauce.

In a large skillet, heat 1-1/2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and mushrooms and stir-fry for about 3 min. Stir sauce, then add to the pan, stirring to distribute evenly. Cook for another minute, until only a little sauce is visible.


Michael Doss said...

Sauces are almost always my issue in Asian-style cooking. Perhaps because I didn't grow up cooking them, I just don't know the right combinations to make what I want, or something that's close to what I get when I go out.

This is as opposed to Italian cooking, which I can recreate almost exactly with just a few tastes or even seeing/smelling a sauce. I'd love to be able to do the same with Asian flavors.

Sher said...

Boy, your lunch sounds wonderful. :):) Love the fried egg topper!

Teresa said...

Mike - The more you cook Asian foods, the more you'll get used to cooking with the ingredients. How else did you learn how to cook with Italian ingredients?

Sher - Fried eggs make rice and veggies even better!