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The secret is in the (lack of) sauce - The Lyorn's Den

Sun Mar. 27th, 2011

11:22 pm - The secret is in the (lack of) sauce

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After yesterday's cooking fail, I got it right this time:

Vaguely Asian cauliflower with spiced chicken

Very simple, but you need to move fast when it's cooking.

For about four eaters you need one small to medium cauliflower, a handful of carrots, a stalk of leek, a handful of cashews (or peanuts, if you like them better), one chicken breast, a small spring onion, about 250g Chow Mein noodles, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, orange or lemon marmalade, soy sauce (I used ketjab manis this time), rice vinegar and peanut oil. A dash of sesame would have been nice, but I did not have any.

You also need a large pot (to boil five litres of water in and have some room to spare), a large frying pan, sieve, and bowl (for the noodles), a stopwatch, and the usual kitchen things.

Chop the garlic and the ginger as fine as you can, cut the white of the spring onion into thin slices. Mix all that with 4 tablespoons of oil, 2 of soy sauce, 2 of vinegar, 1 of marmalade. Clean the chicken breast and slice it into thin, bite-sized pieces. Marinate the chicken breast in the mix. (I have used three medium sized cloves of garlic and the same amount of ginger.)

Clean leek, cut the white and the pale green into thin (half-)rings. Peel carrots, cut into thin slices. Clean cauliflower, break into bite-sized florets. Break cashews in half. Or not. Put noodles in bowl.

Bring five or more litres of salt water to boil in your big pot. (You need that much to create a decent heat reserve, so that it won't cool down much when you dump in the veggies.) When it boils well, throw in leek. When it boils again, time one minute on the stopwatch, throw in carrots. Wait for it to boil again, time one minute, throw in cauliflower. While you wait for it to boil again, put cashews in pan, set heat to max. Time two minutes. Keep an eye on the pan. When it gets hot pour in chicken, marinade and all, spread out. By now your two minutes should be over, take the pot from the stove, pour the hot water in the noodle bowl until the noodles are covered (some veggies might slip in with the noodles, that does not matter), then drain the rest in the sieve. If veggies cling to the pot, rinse with cold water, drain again. Remember to stir your chicken. Time four minutes for the noodles.

When the chicken is done (probably within the four minutes), pour the veggies on. Drain the noodles, put in the pan (or serve separately). Stir-fry for a few minutes on high, add salt, pepper. If you feel it needs some more soy sauce, mix the sauce with water before pouring it in, or the cauliflower will drink it up. When the veggies are dry and only very lightly roasted, it's done.

First time, I had fried the leek, which became too dark, and poured the soy sauce right in the pan without noticing that the cauliflower was drinking it and I had used far too much. The tastes in this should combine without losing their individual notes. The carrots and cauliflower should be al dente, the leek a little softer to lose sharpness. When you boil the veggies, put the lid on the pot, you want them to spend as little time as possible in not-boiling water.

The rest of the weekend

I managed to call R___ after getting up on Saturday morning, and she said she'd have time and we could meet for breakfast at ten. I was up at some unholy hour of morning again, so by ten I had already done most of my grocery shopping. Which was very strange. We had a good (and long) breakfast in a café by the market square. Afterwards, we met her husband in town, I got some news about my motorbike, and after that went home to drink tea and read the newspaper. Went to the gym after that, deadlifted 32.5 kg (not too bad). I'm doing the New Rules of Lifting for Women program, seven weeks in now, and so far it's progressing nicely.

Rest of the day, I attempted to cook dinner, with very unsatisfying results, and did nothing in particular.

Today, I had been half-decided to take the bicycle on an extended tour, but I did not feel too good, so I spend the day cooking, baking, drinking tea, and lying on the sofa, reading, with Jerry lying on my stomach. Goodness, that cat is heavy. But very, very sweet.

I hope my new-found ability to get up in the cold hours of morning will serve me well tomorrow. First work day after switch to DST. Stupid DST. Phoned my mother today, and she was in full rant mode about it. Said she had decided to stay in bed all day to protest it.

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