Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dinner #3: Sorta Chinese Food

The Menu:
Pork and Napa Cabbage
Egg rolls
Beef Yakisoba
Chicken Teriyaki

I only have a recipe for the Pork dish. Sorry.
Also, there aren't going to be a lot of pictures in this update. I do like doing pictures, and intend to do them again, but it wasn't really possible this time.

Don't worry, I'll justify myself!

Okay. Reasons for no pics:

#1 - My camera sucks so bad. This thing has seen some rough times. Some phone based cameras are now better than my Canon door prize (really, it was) camera. It takes roughly 10 seconds to be ready to take a picture again. Sometimes I take that long to do parts of my job. It's because I really really really hate my job. I feel bad that the camera hates his job so much. Maybe we'll put it down after taxmas.

#2 - We were making Chinese food. Sure it wasn't super authentic, but there were still plenty of vegetables, many of which were of the leafy green variety,

That's bok choy and napa cabbage - leafy!

If I took the time to take pictures of every step along the way my semi-sog vegetables would have been suppersogged. And since this is primarily about the sitting down with the dinner, I decided the blog could eat it and feature less in the way of pics. Sorry blog.

Seriously, we had a lot going on:

That pinky-purple pan is about to get the pork, the cast iron skillet has some super-marinated chicken in it, the old crust pot in the back (which is part of a pressure cooker that's been around longer than I have - I got it from my parents when I moved out) was heating oil for the egg rolls, the covered pot was the rice and the electric wok was for the yakisoba.

So, that's 5 dishes we had going at once. No time for pics!

Also, I don't have a lot of information as to what actually went in these. I'm sorry! Except for the pork and the egg rolls Mark was the boss of everything else. I don't really know what he did because I was busy with my thing.

So, let's talk about my thing:

The Pork and Napa Cabbage.

The directions say to mix all of the sauce ingredients into one bowl, and then in yet another to mix the cornstarch and a little more water. What the what? That sounded stupid. The instructions have you adding them both at the same time! It all went in the same bowl:

Mmmmm, right?
Now, because there is cornstarch in here you do have to make sure you give it one last good stir before adding it to the dish.

Which, by the way, you remember the pinky purple pan? There is not enough room in there for five cups of cabbage. So I browned pork, set it aside, sauteed the onion and garlic, added mushrooms (they aren't on the recipe but I had some so...) browned those, added carrot and then waited and waited for Mark to get done with the wok.

Mark probably remembers this differently. He probably thinks something stupid, cause that's what he does. Probably something along the lines of "Denise never said she'd want the wok, so I was just standing in my corner trying to avoid the wrath." Pfft, typical Mark, always afraid of the wrath.

So once I kindly and gently informed him that I needed what he was hogging up he moved out of the way.
Again, his memory is flawed in that it probably recalls the moment something like: "Mark, here's a dish for the yakisoba, dump your slop in there and move on with your life." wait - wait -wait  "I need that for the pork and cabbage sOOner rather than later!" and then he probably remembers me stompling over and not quite shoving him out of the way to get the wok wiped out so I could get my stuff in there.


And we all know how much I care about the vegetables of this world, right? Completely justified bitchery. Yup.


So, in the wok went the skillet items, the pork and then handful after handful of cabbage and a single handful of bok choy (something else the recipe didn't ask for, but the darker and leafier the vegetable, the more okay I feel about slathering it in something like super-salinated peanut sauce) and then I tossed it for a couple minutes like the instructions say, then I added the sauce.

Then I overcooked it and it got so sad and wilty. Not awesome at all.

I don't have a pic of it by itself, because we were trying to get everything to the table. You can see it in the larger pic though.

Oh - so I also made:

The Egg Rolls

Egg rolls were one of those things I'd never thought to try and make. Sure, I'd seen the wrappers at the store, but figured they were for people much more skilled than myself to use.

And then my friend Corina made some and I figured if she and then I saw how easy they were! Corina uses load of cilantro in hers and has actually ruined them for me forever because no-one else does, and Mark isn't a fan of cilantro. She also has something else going on in hers that makes them especially tasty, but I don't know what it is. Maybe she'll tell you in a comment *hint hint.*

Even if mine aren't as awesome as Corina's, they are still pretty tasty and really easy to make so long as you're willing to slave over the skillet/fry them (Corina forgoes the deep-frying.)

The base ingredients are:
-A bag of slaw cabbage from the salad section at the grocery store
-Your preferred meat - I like chicken
-Seasonings - I used oyster sauce and Chinese five spice

I also included super-minced mushrooms in mine. And a tiny bit of cilantro. Mark either didn't notice, or didn't care. He ate three.

Instructions: Cook your meat - I seasoned my chicken with garlic powder. Also, for me anyway, it helps if you cut the chicken up supersmall before cooking it. We were using chicken-tenders so think something like the diameter of a celery rib cut into 1/4 inch or less slices?
-When the chicken was about half-way done I added the minced mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms and chicken are browned, add the cabbage. Sprinkle the cabbage mound with five spice and oyster sauce. Enough to almost evenly distribute when you stir the cabbage. You don't want it soaking in this stuff, it's salty. Stir that around until it cooks down a little. How wilty you want things is all up to you. Just remember that it's getting cooked again later.

Hey, because I'm helpful (and lazy) here's a youtube clip:
Making Egg Rolls With Way More Ingredients But the Principle is Still the Same

His is nice and short compared to some, and has way less "instructional text in lieu of video" going on.
Also, he rolls his different than I did mine, but I think I like his way better.

Let's talk about Marks stuff:

His Yakisoba:

This package was almost five dollars. I'm not convinced that it's any better than the dried Ramen noodles. It sure had the same consistency. Close enough that in the future, should we try this again, I'd rather try our luck with 50 cents worth of ramen noodles instead.

We used freezer stir fry veggies, fresh onion, and fresh broccoli. It went in the pan in order of smooshiness. So - onions, then broccoli, then freezer veggies and after that was all heated through he put in the noodles, beef (cooked in the skillet after the chicken was done) and finished it off with the sauce.

The sauce- made a sauce from some Internet site that said soy sauce, brown sugar, tomato sauce/past, worcestershire and rice vinegar was the way to (it also said sake and mirin,but I didn't have that laying around) Mark ended up using that, and the packets this stuff came with. I dunno, but I think making your own sauce is probably the way to go. The packets are just a sweeter version of the beef-flavor-ramen packets.

Chicken Teriyaki:

Mark marinated chicken tenders in soy and teriyaki sauce. Not awesome teriyaki sauce, but the stuff in the jug that is just soy sauce and HFCS. It was a little salty. Partly because we pushed Sunday to Monday and it soaked in that stuff for close to two days.

There isn't much to say. It was marinated and then cooked in a skillet. Not much to it.

Before I move on though, let me say that there is a reason that the folks at the teriyaki places use thigh meat. It's way more moist, and way more flavorful. If you're going to make chicken teriyaki at home, try and get skinless boneless chicken thighs. There are more clues that what you're eating used to be an animal (gristle and fat are minimal, but not uncommon) but I think the flavor more than makes up for it.

What Mark and I like to do is have the friendly folks at our neighborhood Safeway chop the thighs and add a marinade before repackaging it and giving it back to us. Spanaway Safeway has always been happy to do this for us, and it really makes a difference.

Calrose Rice:

I don't know why someone would go through all the trouble to make the above mentioned meal and then dump it on top of some boil-in-bag rice. Gag. Why eat the rice at all if you aren't going to eat good rice?

Calrose rice is a little more expensive but flavor-wise it's worth it. Mark makes it by following the package directions but adding in rice vinegar and sugar during the cooking process, then he hits it with a little more when he pulls it off of the stove. The vinegar and sugar add a subtle flavor, but it's not overpowering. This isn't sushi rice, but it's getting there.

I recommend giving calrose rice a try if you haven't before. It's not any harder than boil-in-bag, but you do end up with a pan to clean.

Get to the table:

The eggrolls are in the upper left hand corner. The other items, clockwise from the top are - Yakisoba, Pork and Cabbage, Rice, and chicken teriyaki.

This is so much more food than four people needed. However, see the amount of chicken there? There was probably half as much pork and beef in each of the other dishes. So there are piles of carbs and veggies, and not much meat. Just like real Chinese* food!

Ready for Dinner

Max, trying to be a good sport so that the whole of the Internet (clearly he has yet to understand how much of the Internet goes unread) doesn't think he's some sort of anti-veggie weenie, tried an egg roll.

He almost puked. His face looked like that for about two seconds and then it looked like maybe he discovered a kitten foot in there or something. He gagged and retched and then had some milk and was all better.
He got through the rice and chicken just fine. Well, except for the chicken.

*Should any trolly types come knocking, I do realize that none of this really qualifies as Chinese food. But hey, here in America it's what we call it when we add soy and noodles to dinner. So thanks.


  1. You know after looking at the picture for the Yaki-Noodles do I now realize they are made by my favorite cheap ramen manufacture, Maruchan. Perhaps that is where the similarities come from.

  2. Max has the same PJ's as Austin. But Austin likes veggies.

    RE: Egg rolls
    I cook my meat in soy sauce. I also use a little green onion and then I pour a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil over the whole mixture before filling the egg rolls.

  3. Bahaha! I love this blog! Got referred by your friend from Very Serious forum. Still getting caught up, but 3 thumbs up so far (borrowed one from a friend).