Sunday, February 24, 2008

Frieday: fried rice, fried egg rolls...

but first, an aside about leeks:

I made a leek-and-potato soup a la The New Vegetarian Epicure the other day -- like everything I've tried from that book so far, it turned out disappointingly bland. I'm currently hypothesizing that, one, Anna Thomas is using better produce than I am, and two, she is a Foodie and therefore all about letting the food's natural flavor shine through and minimizing the use of spices. Pshaw, I say.

That's neither here nor there. The point is, it was the first time I had ever cooked with leeks. I didn't even really know what leeks were -- I think I knew they were green. Now I am aware that they are essentially green onions on steroids, but milder (kinda bland, even!) Also, they are hella hard to clean. It's like there were little dirt ninjas who were instructed to infiltrate every crevice (wow, that sounds kind of dirty) (HAH!).

Anyway, lookit what one of my leeks looked like inside! This one had a staid exterior like all the rest, but on the inside, it was totally tripping out:



Fried rice! I made fried rice because I was feeling way lazy and we were out of tofu, so hey! Eggs have protein!

Also, fried rice is totally a comfort food for me now. The more it is like mediocre chinese takeout, the better... and that low standard makes it much easier to cook, let me tell you what.

my little menage-a-trois, or whatever it's called
yeah, all right. mise in place. also known as having all your shit in order.

I also decided to make egg rolls, because what better to go with mediocre homemade takeout? I have a shiny new used cookbook, the China Moon cookbook, that has way more information about Chinese food than I ever wanted to know. I looked up the vegetarian egg roll recipe in there (well, spring roll. There's an explanation of the difference, but, um, I didn't read it). And then I mostly didn't follow that recipe, and the egg rolls turned out... edible.

the egg roll stuffing, before rolling

I mean, I've had worse... but the goal is to be like mediocre take-out, not miserably bad takeout! I think there's nothing for it but to actually start at the beginning, follow the directions and learn how to cook Chinese food properly. I knew a girl named Yang who could rant with the best of them about how underappreciated Chinese cuisine is in America, and thanks to her, I now understand that we know as Chinese food is not only bad Chinese food -- not only bad Americanized Chinese food -- but also bad Americanized Chinese food that resembles only a tiny slice of the true variety of Chinese food. Frankly, it's kind of intimidating.

But I'll do my best. Nook and pantry is doing a Chinese Food 100 1/2 series, so I guess I'll read that, snuggle up with China Moon, buy some sesame oil and jump in.

the only-edible egg rolls

I could just suck it up and actually buy Chinese takeout when I feel like Chinese take-out, but that's no fun. I feel like, unless there is a really, really good reason for me not to learn to cook something myself -- for instance, kalua pig, where I would have to buy a whole pig and dig a big pit and build a huge fire and dedicate an entire day and I don't even eat meat -- anyway, barring extenuating circumstances, it's always better to learn to make it myself. Almost always cheaper, usually healthier, and guaranteed to be more fun.

It wasn't really this yellow -- I need to get some photo-editing software, stat.

The zucchini was pretty good -- the rice was a little wet. I declared Mission Accomplished a little early, if you know what I mean. (Actually, what I mean is that I should have used day-old rice. Ah well.) The sauce was basic but good-- soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, a bit of sugar, a squirt of ketchup and orange juice. I should have left the ketchup out... totally unnecessary.

I'd never seen another recipe that used orange juice as a fried-rice sauce, but since I was thinking about it now, I went ahead and looked some others up. It makes perfect sense if you think about it -- or it did when I thought about it, anyway. "This sauce tastes pretty good, but I need a lot more, I don't want to dilute it, I don't want to put in a gallon of vinegar or soy sauce... what liquid do I have that'll -- hey!"

Yeah. I talk to myself.

Check out the Aunt Jemima's in the back. that's right. I have a very classy kitchen.

Pretty good for lazy, lazy cooking. That is, the rice was good and lazy. The spring rolls were effort-full and mediocre. Ah well.

Dessert, of course, was a painstakingly hand-made...

selection from our candy bowl! Yay Valentine's day!

Man. I am teh tired. I probably shouldn't have spent two hours trying to decide whether to start this blog on Wordpress or Blogger and then fiddling with the templates.


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