Friday, September 18, 2009

Dinner for One/Spicy Stir Fry

I like to believe that I know what I am doing in the kitchen, I guess that really is the mentality that drives me to make new things and care enough to photograph them and write about them.

My friends always ask me, "Frenchie, what do you make on a normal night?" That question always makes me laugh, because to me my everyday dinner is not that different from anyone else's. I realize that maybe this is not the case, the other day I prepared a salad for dinner and my roommate looks at it and asks me why it looked so good. It really made me think, I am a college student with a tight budget just like anyone else, so why do my dinners turn out differently? I think I have the answer. First, for me, food is not just a means of survival but a treat, with each dinner I make I am rewarding myself. Second, I take the time to make my food look beautiful, a huge part of flavor and enjoyment comes from sight and I try my best to entice all my senses. The last and probably least significant part is that in some ways I do know what I am doing. That doesn't mean that I know it all, but certain techniques or flavor combinations that might seem intuitive to me all come from the knowledge I have acquired in years of cooking.

I am very proud that I can say this and it makes me feel good when other people notice, but on nights like tonight with no one around I still take the time to make a "standard" weeknight meal for one. When I am cooking for myself I like to make one dish meals in a bowl. It looks and tastes hearty and it's an ideal vessel for curling up on the couch and watching crappy TV. People often talk about cooking for one as if it were a bad thing, but for me it is comforting. I am taking care of and treating myself, for my own sake; and that is something I will never give up.

Tonight I was craving spicy Asian flavors so I made a veal (because it's what I had on hand) and broccoli stir fry with brown rice. I love this dish because it is simple and quick, I usually cook the rice and marinate the meat while I am in the shower. By the time I am out my apartment smells fragrant and enticing and dinner is almost ready. This simple weeknight dinner is sure to satisfy and can be varied however you want. Make it yours, spend a minute alone, and remember even though it can take courage to spend time alone, you might get the chance to learn something new, about cooking or about yourself. And that is really cool.

Spicy Stir Fry
Serves 1

1 serving of brown rice cooked according to package directions

4 oz. veal cutlets (or chicken or beef or get it)
1/2 serrano pepper minced
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp. Chinese five spice
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp. salt
6 broccoli florets

1) Combine serrano pepper, hoisin sauce, Chinese five spice, sesame oil and salt in a small bowl. This is your marinade.Cut your protein into strips and put it in the marinate. Let it hang out for 15-30 minutes.
2) Steam the broccoli until it is tender but still has a bite, 6 to 8 minutes.
3) Heat a small pan over medium heat and put the meat and marinade in the pan. Sautee the meat until it is cooked through, 3-4 minutes for veal. Take out the meat reserving the juices and put the broccoli in the sautee pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes to let it take some of the flavors.
4) Put your rice in the bottom of a bowl, pour your broccoli with the marinade over the rice and then add the meat.
5) Eat immediately.

• adjust the amount of serrano pepper you put in depending on your taste.
• I garnished mine with sciracha hot sauce, because if you haven't figure it out yet I like things very spicy.