Monday, December 20, 2010

Chinese Success!


I must apologize in advance to Lorna Yee, author of the blog Cooking Through China, for the potential un-Chineseness of the Chinese dish I am about to lay before you. I cook from what happens to be lying about and and what I can scrape together from the local grocer, so I must do my best. And I am not Chinese.

Several years ago, I had my first real taste of a dark Asian sauce that made my taste buds go "ahhhh." I was intrigued. Not many things in this world make my taste buds truly go "ahhh." I love Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food, and I especially love the dark sauces those cultures produce. I set out to create my own.

Needless to say, I did not get the sauce perfect the first time. I didn't even get it right. As a matter of fact, I didn't even get it edible. It was so bad (and so salty) that my taste buds went "Garrrarrr! Throw it away! Throw it away! Make it stop!" I threw it away. The second time I made it was almost as bad. I was getting frustrated.

My lovely wife, with her lovely power of understatement, suggested that my mixture might need a bit of cornstarch. I agreed to try it and we bought a box of cornstarch. And that was when the solution fell into my lap in the form of a recipe for Chinese sauce printed on the back of the box. Irony.

The next time I tried the sauce it finally worked. I was almost afraid of how much sugar and soy sauce I was required to put in, but I gritted my teeth and put the proper amounts in and it worked beautifully. I tried the sauce out on everything that might remotely go with it, with varying amounts of success and tastiness. I found one particular mixture, however, that seems to work consistently well. It involves a modified version of the sauce and some other choice ingredients:

Chinese Mushroom Stir-Fry

What you will need:
6 large mushrooms, cut into eighths
1 large chopped onion
butter (lots of it!)
2 packs of ramen noodles
3 tablespoons of corn starch
4 1/2 tablespoons of either white or brown sugar
a sprinkling of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/3 cup of water
dash of white vinegar
dash of ginger
minced garlic (however much you desire)
pinch of salt
pepper

Combine mushrooms, onions, butter, salt, and pepper in a large frying pan. Fry until still slightly crunchy and set aside.
 Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and turn on to medium heat for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring every couple of seconds. (This is a very precise step, stick to the times listed here.) Now turn up to high heat and stir constantly. The mixture will very quickly turn into a thick, gooey, dark brown mass of awesomeness. Now add a glass or two of water until it thins out again and add the ramen. Turn the stove to medium heat and keep stirring until the ramen is cooked and soaked thoroughly.
Now add the sauce/ramen mixture to the mushrooms and onions and stir until the whole thing is completely covered with the sauce.

You can add a favorite protein (like chicken or shrimp) to this particular dish, but this is hopefully just a launching platform for many great ideas!

Enjoy!

-- Nick

2 comments:

  1. I love how you used the ramen noodles!! I really do enjoy ramen but sometimes get bored w/ just doing the flavor packet that comes w/ the noodles themselves. Thanks for the idea!!! This will definitely be a springboard for future dinners in my house.

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