Monday, February 21, 2011

How Best to Cook

My view of Downtown Philly. Beautiful even on a gloomy day.
     Sometimes, the best way to cook is what I call the throw-everything-into-the-pot method. Generally, for me, this results in piping hot, veggie-rich, Asian flavored (considering the variety of Asian sauces I have now acquired) soup. Today, was no different. It was overcast and gloomy. It was cold, and as I've already been bemoaning the change in weather I will go no further with that. I missed my classes because I got sick. I was in a bad mood. What fixes a bad mood on a cold day? Not fussing over dishes I've never made before and would have to follow instructions for. Just making a good old - very comforting - soup.

Shiitake Mushrooms!
     I also have a lot of ingredients on hand, as you might have heard. I went mildly crazy at both Chinatown and Reading Terminal buying fresh fruits and veggies. You might know that I Rarely Ever have fresh produce, believing strongly in the power of the frozen food. So, what do I do with all this wealth? Well, I eat it as fast as possible, so none of it has a chance to go bad. And, when I know I can't eat an entire bush of kale (that is what it is - a bush), I boil some off to freeze it. Isn't it ironic that even when I buy fresh produce I turn it into frozen food? Ah well, that is the way of the world.

     Some of the fresh kale does make it into my soup though. Joining it are a bunch of shiitake mushrooms and a scallion, both of which I used to practice my julienning skills. Hurrah fancy Food Network words. Then, I look in my fridge. Hey! I still have more pork chops. In one goes. Life is beautiful when ingredients are on hand. And, isn't it just great that all you need for a soup base is water, soy sauce, and a little oyster sauce? I'm pretty sure you don't even need the oyster sauce, I just wanted to add a little something something more from my fully stocked pantry.

     So, for once, not only did I cook in the hour I had between class and work, I also got to eat. After a fast twenty minutes of cooking, I got a whole thirty to sit and enjoy! Imagine that. Slurping in the slightly bitter kale, the soft shiitake mushrooms, and that savory stock, I was utterly contented. Even leaving my apartment to find it chilly and snowing on my way to work didn't get me down. Everything is so different with your belly full of hot soup.

Quick Asian Kitchen-Sink Soup 

3 cups Water 
1/2 cup Kale
1/2 tsp Salt 
1 tbsp Soy Sauce 
1/4 tsp Oyster Sauce 
1/4 tsp Ginger Powder  
3 large Shiitake Mushrooms, Sliced Thinly 
1 Thin Boneless Pork Chop, Sliced Thinly (with excess fat trimmed off)  
1 Scallion, Sliced Thinly 
1 Egg  

Boil the water in a medium saucepan. Then, lower the heat to medium-low, and add the kale and the salt. Cook for about 8 minutes, then stir in the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and ginger powder. Next, mix in the shiitake mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes. Then, add the pork chop pieces and scallion. After stirring in, try to create an empty space in the middle of the pan (it might be hard). Crack the egg, and drop it into that space. Let it cook for a minute, not agitating it too much. Then pull it apart with long chopsticks or a spoon, just making sure all of it is cooked. This will probably only take a minute, after which you are ready to serve! 

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