"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Going Rogue: Stir-fry style

by Julie Tilsner on January 24, 2010

in Minor Miracles

Sesame oil The rain slammed down on the tin patio roof as I stared bleakly into the refrigerator at 4:30. Another dinner time, another blank slate. Even though the weather called for soup, my eye caught the soy sauce, which suggested stir-fry. Not what you think of for stormy weather fare, but it could work.

Besides, I had almost everything on hand — carrots, celery, soy sauce, ginger, sticky rice. All I needed was tofu and maybe some snow peas, if I could find them. If Trader Joe's wasn't flooded (like most of the streets in my town were at the moment), I could procure and make it happen.

I was only half soaked upon getting there, and feeling like a damp rug I was pointed in the direction of the tofu. "What kind should I get," I asked one of the workers there, who I knew to be vegetarian. "What are you making?" he asked. Stir-fry, I told him. "Do you have a recipe you like for that?"

He regarded me pityingly. "No," he said finally. "It's stir-fry. You don't need a recipe for stir-fry."

Maybe most people don't. Obviously no one there has read this blog. (when in fact it should be sponsored by TJ's, given the amount of time and money I spend there.)

Upping the pressure considerably was the fact that Debbie was coming over for dinner. She's not picky when it comes to food, but it does have to be at least partially edible. In an attempt to accommodate, I put off drinking until I'd started my summit attempt. This would be my stir-fry without a map. Going rogue with the stir-fry.

You laugh, perhaps. But if you know me and my history of disastrous forays into un-recipe'd territory, you wouldn't laugh long.

With Debbie coaching me, I cut the carrots and celery into medium dice. Diced the fresh ginger. Sliced my block of extra firm tofu into cubes (more or less) and soaked them in a marinade of my own design — soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little sesame oil.

I made the rice, then threw the veggies into the pan to saute.

"Shall I put a little sesame oil in this?" I asked Debbie.

"Yes, but not too much or it will overwhelm everything else."

So I opened the cap and doused. I thought there would be a little spout that held back the liquid. There was not.

Chug, chug …oh, crap…

Debbie rolled her eyes. "Do you do this on purpose, Jules?"

But as it turns out, the flavors were not overwhelmed by the sesame oil. If anything, the tofu must have sponged it up. Because the end result was fresh-tasting and zesty. Even the nits ate their bowl. Debbie and I had two bowls each.

We celebrated by opening the two-buck Chuck. 

This minor miracle, followed by the Rosemary red beet soup with miso that I made for the Soup Swap today, which turned out so good people fell on it, heartens me greatly.

Tonight I'm trying a seared sashimi-grade Ahi. With just a drop of sesame oil for flavor. (thanks for the idea, Liz) Stay tuned…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bad Home Cook February 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm

From Annie:
And yes, you probably DO do it on purpose. It wouldn’t be much of a blog if you made everything right, now, would it?


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