Heart of the Matter from the Sea

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Lucillian Delights is hosting the fifth round of Heart of the Matter, searching out heart healthy recipes that use the fruit of the sea. I have a couple of great salmon recipes I could have turned to for this but I had been itching to try yet another Cooking Light recipe: Orange-Ginger Shrimp Skewers. I intended to serve it with stir fried vegetables and brown rice. Unfortunately, the sky looked rather ominous and I didn’t fancy standing in a downpour to grill the shrimp so I used the basic marinade from the Cooking Light recipe as the basis for a stir fry sauce and just cooked it all in one pot. I love the bright colors of stir fried (or stir poached) vegetables.

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This was a very tasty meal.  Despite the cholesterol in shrimp, it is a relatively low calorie meat and served up with so many vegetables and brown rice it’s good for you!  Here’s to your health.

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Stir Fry

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I love Chinese food. Or whatever passes for it in American establishments. Or whatever passes for it in my house. I love the flavors. I am not, however, adept at using chopsticks.

I tend to dislike crockpot recipes. Soups turn out fine in it, but the foods I like best are always a disappointment when made in the crockpot. So I was curious about this recipe I found for ‘Peking Pork Chops‘:

6 thick cut pork chops (1 inch)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Trim excess fat from pork chops and place in slow cooker. Mix brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl and pour over meat. Cover, turn to low and cook 4 to 6 hours, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

I used some fresh grated ginger rather than dried but I didn’t have any garlic so I used some dried of that. Forget the so-called emergencies when a grocery runs out of milk, bread or toilet paper — when they don’t have garlic, *that’s* an emergency! Also, for the ketchup I used some ‘homestyle ketchup’ that my neighbor gave me when she was cleaning out the cabinets — it’s chunky and has some onion and jalapeno in it. It’s not any variety of Heinz. The kids hate it, obviously. I ended up cooking my pork chops for longer than 6 hrs and they were DONE . . . and a little dried out, at least the stuff on top, even after turning once.

I had initially planned to serve the pork chops with some rice and veggies on the side. After looking at the pork chops, I decided to change that plan — they didn’t look very appetizing. They were tender to the point of falling apart; it was difficult to remove them from the pot. I took the bones out and divided the meat — it covered two 10-inch dinner plates. I froze half and used the other half for dinner. I scrounged through the kitchen looking for stuff to make a full stir fry — mushrooms, carrots, peas, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Then the sauce . . . what to make? I had been looking at the lo mein at Vegan Lunch Box (and YES, I realize pork is NOT vegan) and decided to try a hoisin and soy sauce combo. It reminded me of the flavors in mu shu, which is one of my favorite dishes. When I was a grad student, a Chinese post doc informed me that the essential ingredients in mu shu were the meat/veggie whatever base, egg and fungus.

I cooked the carrots for a couple of minutes, then added the rest of the veggies until they were just right and added the pork and stirred together. I pulled that out of the pan and with another squirt of oil I whipped two eggs in the pan until they were close to done and tossed that on top of the meat/veggie mix in the bowl.

Then I cooked together 1/4 c. hoisin sauce, 1/4 c. soy sauce and 1/2 c. chicken broth. Once it was hot and bubbly, I added a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with cold chicken broth and stirred until it was thick. I tossed the meat/veggie/egg mix back in the pan and stirred to coat then served with hot rice.

It’s not lo mein, it’s not mu shu, it’s just a stir fry with Chinese flavors and it was pretty well liked by everyone.

Despite the lack of garlic, it was reasonably good.

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Recipe of the Day

Today I wanted to use up some leftovers from yesterday’s veggie platter so I essentially used the sauce and style of this recipe without actually using exactly these ingredients — for example, mine had no onion, bell bepper, bamboo shoots, pineapple or mushrooms. My goodness, you say, how can you possibly call it the same recipe? B/c the sauce is what does it.

I had leftover baby carrots that I cooked for awhile before adding the broccoli, pea pods, celery and chopped jicama. Now many of you are asking ‘what’s jicama?’ (pronounced /he-cama/) It’s a Mexican root veggie (brown outside, shaped like a turnip, with a white inside) that is crisp and slightly sweet but w/o much flavor of its own; makes an excellent dipper for veggie trays, salads and when cooked it stays crisp for a long time so it works sort of like a water chestnut in stir-fries — and if you come to my house for a meal, you’re likely to have seen it one of those uses b/c I LOVE jicama! Also, I didn’t have any sake and didn’t open any other alcohol today — just used the soy sauce on the chicken. Since I don’t buy bouillion anymore, I also used No-MSG boxed chicken broth instead of water and bouillion.

I’m just doing a cut-n-paste from my computer file cookbook so there are more notes at the end of the recipe of what I often do.
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Sweet and Sour Chicken Japanese Style

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut in small pieces

2 medium onions, chopped in 1 inch pieces

2 green peppers, chopped in 1 inch pieces

1 carrot, chopped

1 can bamboo shoots

2 slices pineapple cut in large pieces

mushrooms, chopped in large chunks

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sake or dry sherry

5 Tablespoons brown sugar

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

2 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon potato or corn starch

1 teaspoon sake

½ teaspoon chicken bouillon

2/3 cup hot water

Marinate chicken in 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sake for 10 minutes. Coat in potato or cornstarch and deep fry. Remove to paper towel covered plate to drain.

Mix together brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch, sake, bouillon and water; set aside.

In large skillet or wok, saute all vegetables. Begin with carrots as they take longer to cook then add others. Add the chicken. Add the sauce mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Serve over rice.

Notes: I rarely deep fry the chicken anymore out of laziness and reducing fat (it is more tender and has a nice texture when you do, however). I usually marinate the chicken in a small plastic bag and often use more soy sauce and sake than listed. I pour off excess liquid, toss several tablespoons of cornstarch in the bag and shake together until the chicken is coated. Then I stir fry the chicken in the pan until it is done, remove the chicken and cook the veggies (or cook the veggies first and then the chicken), then follow the recipe from that point. It will make ‘brown sticky stuff’ on the bottom of your pan while cooking the chicken, but it only serves to make the ending sauce a bit richer.

This recipe came from a Japanese friend, Kuniko.