Time permitting, I'm planning to write up another super post tomorrow. We'll see how the cleaning goes. I spent all day at it today, so I'm hoping I'll be able to wrap it up by mid-afternoon tomorrow. Maybe I'll even be able to hit the bike trails for a few hours. In the meantime, here's a picture of my lunch to tide you over.
Meet my refrigerator chow mein. I needed a quick lunch, but didn't have any old rice in the fridge and didn't want to make any new rice. So I went with frozen, store-bought egg noodles instead (trust me, they're in there.)
I use this basic technique whenever I need to throw something together or use up some ingredients in the fridge. The ratio is fairly simple:
1/4 cup aromatics <-> 1/4 cup protein <-> 2 cups starch <-> 2 cups filler <-> 1 cup of gravy slurry (broth + seasonings + 2 tbsp cornstarch)
The aromatics were two cloves of garlic, minced, and seven Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced.
The protein (optional), was a few slices of turkey bacon (better for my heart) that I roughly julienned.
The starch, in this case, was the egg noodles, which I reconstituted in boiling water and set aside in a colander to drain.
The filler was 1 cup of konnyaku, thinly sliced, 1/3 cup of okra, sliced, 1/3 cup of celery, sliced, and 1/3 cup of oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced.
The gravy slurry was a cup of chicken broth with 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp of nuoc mam (fish sauce).
I started out by rendering the turkey bacon in my wok at medium heat, with a little drizzle of rice bran oil to get it started. Once the bacon was crisp, I added the konnyaku and gave it a few more minutes to force out some of the water so that it could better absorb the flavors. I then set the bacon konnyaku mixture aside.
Using the oil left in the wok, I fried the egg noodles I'd already heated and drained. I made a disk of noodles in the center of the work, fried one side to a crisp, then flipped the noodle disk and fried the other side. When I was done, I had a thick disk of noodles that was crispy on the surface and soft inside. I plated the noodles.
I then cranked the heat up to high and added a tablespoon of rice bran oil. Once the wok had started smoking a little, I added the garlic and Thai bird chilies, stir-fried them for about thirty seconds, then added the okra. A minute later I added the celery. Thirty seconds after that, I added the oyster mushrooms, tossing the contents of the wok the entire time.
After another thirty seconds, I added the bacon and konnyaku mixture, along with a tablespoon of chopped fermented soybeans and a pinch of salt. Thirty seconds later, I deglazed the wok with a little cooking sake and added the gravy slurry. I let the mixture simmer until the gravy had thickened and turned glossy, then poured it over my crispy noodle disk.
This is a fairly basic technique that can be adapted to use whatever you happen to have in the fridge. Just remember not to crowd the wok. Add the filler in the order of longest to cook to shortest, giving the wok time to come back up to high heat between additions. The protein should always be cooked separately and first, then added last, although how you do it will depend on the type that's being used. Also, remember that the gravy will not be fully thickened until it comes to a boil.
Total Prep + Cooking time - 10 minutes