Monday, 11 February 2013

Empty Fridge- Hidden Dragon!

Banchetto Vegetariano Cinese Per Uno
Vegetarian Chinese Banquet for One

Sometimes it is quite surprising what you can conjure up from an almost empty fridge. Well, to be fair, my fridge was far from almost empty- but I did have a few of those fiddly little left-overs that weren't quite enough to make a meal out of... or were they?

Well, they were obviously not a problem for me to make the most of this evening! With just a small bowl of rice, I turned a handful of snow peas, 3 Shitaake mushrooms, a handful of beansprouts, 2 little Chinese greens and a single egg into a veritable banquet! You have to agree that it looks pretty delicious... don't you?!?!

It was also a lot quicker and easier than it may look believe it or not. It meant a little multi-tasking, but that's all part of the deal! For example- I got the rice cooking and set my steamer on top of it to cook the greens- so that was already 2 ingredients taken care of.
Next, I chopped a few salted peanuts and toasted them in a dry frying pan to have ready as a garnish for later- I did that simply whilst getting the pan up to heat for the mushrooms...

As soon as the peanuts were browned off slightly (don't let them burn!), I popped the sliced mushrooms into the pan and let them start frying for a minute or so without oil and THEN added just a spot of peanut oil. This let the mushrooms dehydrate a little and then brown much quicker. Shitaake mushrooms tend to turn a little rubbery in texture if overcooked... to avoid this and to keep the mushrooms warm, I simply popped them into the steamer along with the greens :-) Clever, huh?

Next, I quickly beat an egg, together with just a hint of light soy sauce and a pinch of powdered ginger, but not too thoroughly as I think it is nice to have a mix of white and yolk and fried it as a simple omelette in a dash of sesame oil, which gives it a great flavor. Just a minute on each side is all it takes. And talking about things taking only a minutes time to cook- it was now time to take care of the snow peas- but not before turning off the heat on the rice!

After 15 minutes the rice was done, so I set it to one side to cool. I then took the snow peas and cut them into fine shreds on the diagonal and then popped them into the steamer in the place of the greens, which could come out now and briefly be sautéed in a little sesame oil with a few slices of ginger to add a little aroma. 2-3 minutes of residual heat and steam were enough to partially cook the peas whilst the greens sizzled away.

At the same time, I took out a second frying pan, added a little sesame oil and turned the heat up high to fry the rice which was now nice and cool. I sprinkled it generously with sesame seeds and stirred it every now and then to keep it from sticking- but if you keep the amount of oil low, once it is lightly coated, it will actually fry and crisp up very nicely. 

After 2-3 minutes of frying, I pushed the greens to one side and added the peas to the other, along with the bean sprouts. I kept the bean sprouts plain but sprinkled the peas with sesame. I seasoned the bean sprouts with a splash of fish sauce and a tiny pinch of sugar- sounds weird but tastes good!

By now the rice was nice and lightly crispy in parts and ready to dress up a little- so I added a little finely chopped parsley (cilantro would have been much better but I didn't have any :-( ) and a sprinkle of chili flakes. 

I served up the egg on top of the rice and dressed it with a nice trickle of sweet chili sauce. The greens I dressed in oyster sauce and sprinkled with the roasted peanuts. The mushrooms also got a little oyster sauce and the peas and sprouts were good to go as they were! I added soy or additional sauces to taste at the table. So- of COURSE this is not authentic- I will leave that to the people who know how... but it WAS yummy! And that is something that I DO know how!

I just wanted to show you all and to prove that you can often times make a whole LOT out of very little... and this was as you can see, indeed a feast! One that I hope you might enjoy too some day!

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