Wok this way

Well, last week, we were pummeled by a storm; wet freezing-rain, snow, and all-around terrible weather all day long.  Cati had the Sunday blues.  She felt like this song all day.

wet

 

Inside though, it was warm and nice.  We spent the day with our vicious, ever-vigilant, guard-dog.  Prowlers be warned: 

laptop dog

It was the perfect day to do a little cooking.  And since we had time on our hands, why not undertake a cooking chore of sorts; Chinese food.  Cooking Chinese is a real pain in the neck.  It’s a total hassle from both a time and work perspective.  With the right recipe though, it can be worth it.  I understand how Chinese food places make their money.  To cook Chinese you have to do a lot of chopping, which isn’t fun, and you have to work over a really hot stove all the while.  And I mean hot; olive oil is sort of impossible in Chinese food, as it burns at the temperatures one need to stir-fry.  Add in preparing sauces, and having to stir-fry items separately, and you have one hectic kitchen on your hands (maybe that’s why it always seems like they are yelling at each other at our favorite take-out place ). 

I make a pork and eggplant stir-fry that justifies all the work. Make 1 cup brown rice in advance (you don’t want to wait for the rice after you’ve finished all your stir-frying).  We use the texmatti brown rice and a rice cooker.  The rice-cooker makes it easy (3:1 water to rice), and the brown rice is much healthier than white rice (aka: starch-bomb)

What you’ll need: 
1 bottle of canola oil (don’t worry, you won’t use it all)  
1 large eggplant 
1 large onion (red or white, I used red in my most recent attempt) 
3 large pork chops 
3 cloves garlic  
1 bunch fresh cilantro 
Make sauce in small sauce pan: 
1 cup chicken stock (or half a bouillon cube in 1 cup water) 
1/4 cup soy sauce 
1 TBSP fish sauce (easy with this stuff; it’s potent) 
1/4 brown sugar 
2 TBSP cornstarch  
Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar to the sauce pan and gently heat until the brown sugar dissolves (no need to let it get hotter than a mild boil).  Sprinkle in the cornstarch by shaking/jiggling the a tablespoon over the sauce pan while mixing it in with another spoon all the while (you don’t want lumps).  The sauce should look like a brown glaze.  Set it aside. 
Put on some tunes, and start chopping.  The eggplant should be cubed into 1/2″ cubes.  The garlic should be minced or squeezed through a press right before adding to the oil.  The pork should be cut into fajita-type strips.  The onion should be first sliced in half from end to end, and then cut into nice 1/2″ crescent pieces like so:

The key to good stir-fry is to get the oil nice and hot so you don’t wind up stewing the meat and vegetables into a mushy mess.  Heat 1 TBSP oil on high to med-high heat in a large skillet or wok and add the garlic and onion.  You should get a nice sizzle when you first add the stuff.  Keep moving or mixing until the onion starts to soften, but don’t turn it into mush.  Set the garlic and onion aside (or into the serving dish).  Try not to transfer too much oil into the serving dish.  Add more oil if needed, and allow it to get hot. 

Add a handful of pork at a time so you don’t cool the oil too much.  The pork should make a nice sizzle and should become a bit brown from the searing.  If it’s not browning, the oil is not hot enough.  Remove the pork strips into the serving dish when done, and do another handful.  If you add oil, give it aq little while to heat up before adding more pork.   When all the pork has been fried, make sure there is about 1TBSP oil in the wok/skillet and then add the eggplant.  The eggplant will soak up the oil initially, but don’e worry, it will release it as it softens.  When the eggplant has reached the desired softness, add everything back to the skillet along with the sauce.  Mix well.  Stir in some fresh sliced cilantro, or add it to the top of the dish as a garnish.  The flavor of this dish is fantastic.  I saw the recipe for this on PBS about a year ago, y’know, on one of those lazy Sundays when that’s all they play.  I think it was this show.

Anyway, it’s a great dish, and once you “get” stir-fry, there is plenty of room to play with the ingredients.  Enjoy.  (Phew, even posting about cooking Chinese food is laborious.)

the fud

sauce

cook the eggplant

plated

going going gone

7 Responses to “Wok this way”

  1. Celia says:

    Oh my god! really!? I’m feeling exactly this way today Cati!!!!!
    Alex, good song! I wouldn’t have chosen better… (by the way, I take notes of your recipes…)

    “I’d smoked my mind the night before
    With cigarettes and songs I’d been picking”

    “On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
    I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
    ’cause there’s something in a Sunday
    That makes a body feel alone”

    Kisses from (sunny) Mallorca (it seems like the summer has arrived this week…)
    I miss you two!!
    Celia

  2. Celia says:

    Alex, one more thing…
    Why don’t you write sometimes about music? I mean… maybe I could participate more than in your cooking sessions… and maybe I could learn something more about what you listen (well, it’s only a suggestion…)

  3. alex|dimitri says:

    Good suggestion, Celia. I am sure I will get bored with the cooking before too long, then music would be a nice choice. I am no longer on top of what is going on these days in music (lame, I know). In my car’s cd player is Frank Sinatra, The White Stripes, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and the Rushmore soundtrack (all 60’s music). Nothing new to say about any of those bands. They’re all great. Going on about them would be like carrying on about the Grand Canyon or the beautiful Mallorcan beaches. Everyone knows how amazing these things are and no one wants to my opinion. What can you recommend to bring me up to speed? Plus, you have a blog about music, I could just link to you, no?

  4. Celia says:

    Who says that no one wants your opinion?
    And I like your recipes (I told you that I usually take notes), but I have a very big problem with this, I don’t know cooking!!! so I can’t participate everything what I would like in your blog, but I read it often… And the suggestion of music is because I know you like the music and in this case I could give you my opinion… Probably the music is one of few things in which I could give my opinion without being wrong very much (It’s my fault, I know little about few things, probably I am a very boring person) [sorry for my english, do you understand what I try to say?]
    And you can read my blog every time you want but maybe I would have to write it in English…
    Lately I am listening last Brigh Eyes new album, Cassadaga, also Neon bible by Arcade Fire, also Some Loud Thunder by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sky blue sky by wilco, also Grinderman, Of Montreal, LCD soundsystem, !!!, and more Spanish bands that I suppose are unknown for you…
    And finally, where is Cati???? I mean, the blogs name the continuing adventures of Alex and cati, but I begin to suspect that Cati leaves all the hard work to you because she never writes in it…. Cati, guapa ¿por qué no nos cuentas algo tú también? (Anda que vaya parrafada os meto sin venir a cuento y en un muy mal inglés…) espero que se me entienda algo y no resultar muy pesadita, je je… ¿Sabéis ya cuando os venís para la isla?
    Besos!!
    Celia

  5. malvina says:

    hello there! just making contact, saying hello and things. it was nice meeting you both at the party saturday night!

    cheers and such!

    your puppy is so cute you just wanna say, “heeee!”

  6. Cati says:

    Thanks for having us!
    It was greating meeting you 2.

    Alex is the one who is brave enough to cook Chinese food…and it’s sooo tasty! I stay more within what I know (Spanish stuff).

    And yes, Malvina, our pup is so cute I say “heee!” every day :)

    See you soon,
    Cati

  7. renee says:

    that looks like real chinese food. go yous!