Someone Else's Farm

June 22, 2010

Plastic Snakes?

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , — M @ 15:47 PM

That’s what our friend A. thought the garlic scapes looked like, when we invited her to come at lunchtime for a stir-fry lesson. We made a small batch of plain old white rice, and three stir-fried dishes: one with cabbage, one with carrots and garlic scapes, and one with broccoli and tofu. And we also just made some plain fried tofu.

First, as with any stir-fry, was the prep. In two cases, that meant carefully reading and taking notes from a basis recipe.

C and A looking at a cookbook

What do I do?

The sweet and sour cabbage recipe is from Big Bowl Noodles and Rice, one of our favorite Asian idea sources. We actually make this one pretty much as the recipe says. The garlic scape stir fry came from a Google search, but we modified this one a bit as we didn’t have any baby corn on hand, and our bunch of garlic scapes was significantly smaller than the recipe called for. The broccoli and tofu stir fry came out of Casey’s head, as did the fried tofu. Before picking up any knives, Casey and A. first mixed up their sauces.

Mixing up sauces

Mixing up sauces

For the cabbage, the sauce was made from sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, salt, and vinegar. The cabbage also required a handful of chiles; we used five Tien Tsin peppers from Penzey’s. For the garlic scapes, the sauce was water, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and pepper. We even had a few dried shiitake mushrooms, which we soaked in hot water before starting to mix the sauces. For the broccoli, the sauce started with a special sweet and smoky barbecue sauce made by a friend of a friend, mixed with water and cornstarch. Once each set of sauce ingredients was combined, it was time to head to the knives.

The cabbage was the second half of a head we’d gotten last weekend. (The first half of the head made coleslaw.) The recipe said to cut it into inch-and-a-half squares. We weren’t overly particular about that.

Cutting up cabbage

Cutting up cabbage

The prep for the garlic scape stir-fry was a little more involved, with julienned carrot, peeled and sliced ginger, and sectioned garlic scapes. The rehydrated shiitakes got cut off their tough stems and chunked, to go with the other ingredients of this stir-fry. And we sliced a clove of garlic for the prep plate as well.

Garlic scape prep

Garlic scape prep

The broccoli florets were sectioned into bite-sized pieces, and the stems were peeled and sliced. And the last bit of prep was a box of extra-firm tofu. Half the tofu was cubed for the stir-fry, and the other half was sliced and dried on paper towels to get cooked as-is. All the prep was moved to the side of the stove, along with the sauces, ready for the cooking to begin!

The cabbage was the most straightforward of everything. We used our cheapo Ikea wok, and started by cooking the cabbage in some hot peanut oil until it was softened but still slightly crunchy, with a little bit of brown.

Cooking cabbage

Cooking the cabbage

When the cabbage was cooked, it came out of the wok temporarily. The chiles then got a bath in hot oil (make sure to turn your vent fan on when you try this!) until the color changed, and they puffed a little bit. We pulled them out of the oil once this had happened, as burned chiles are really nasty. The sauce had settled by then, so it got a quick stir before it got added to the chile-spiked oil in the wok, to boil and bubble and thicken. Once the sauce was ready, all that was left was to add the cabbage back into the wok, and toss it to coat with the sauce.

The garlic scape stir-fry was also pretty standard: heat oil, add aromatics (in this case, ginger and garlic), add fresh vegetables (carrot and garlic scapes), add a splash of liquid (we used white wine) and cover to steam till tender, add rehydrated mushroom pieces, add sauce, cook till boiling and thickened.

The broccoli and tofu stir-fry was similar: cook tofu in oil till done, add broccoli, add liquid, steam till tender, add sauce, bring to a boil and stir together.

Other stir-fry

Other stir-fry

As for the fried tofu slices, they went into a frying pan with plenty of oil, and were left to cook undisturbed until browned and slightly crunchy. We got to show A. what happens when you try to turn them too soon: the tofu rips. Everything went onto the table except the rice cooker

Three stir-frys and some tofu

Lunch is served.

and we demolished most of it. We probably won’t need much dinner tonight.

From our allotment this week, we still have all the asparagus and lettuce, some of the radishes, and half a bunch of chard left. It’s about 48 hours till we pick up the next box.

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