Friday, January 12, 2007

cooking quick or chine-easy

Some people have a passion for cooking and serving the results up to others, some people loving eating, some cook for themselves and many hate cooking. Even in 2006 2007 a lot of men still don't cook and many of those who do cook only cook "fancy" to show off. By cook I mean prepare meals. Sometimes meals are not cooked at all but sandwiches or such.

It would be nice to say I learnt to cook from my mother but other than decent straight forward roasts and chops and spuds and peas we didn't seem to dwell on cooking. I learnt to cook by having to take my turn in worker's camps, share houses and feeding kids and friends. My friend Al described this cooking as Urban Peasant. I like food to be tasty, not just fuel.

There's always the need to be able to do a quick and easy meal for 2 or 8 when you have no idea or urge. My fallback is what I call "Chinese Fish and Rice".

In the cupboard I always have a few kilo's of different rice, Basmati, Sushi Rice, medium grain rice and Jasmine rice. For this cook up I like Jasmine but Sushi Rice or any short to medium grain works.

In the cupboard I also have about 12 tins of Fried Dace from the Chinese Supermarket about $1 each tin.

Throw 2 of those plastic measuring cups of rice into the rice cooker for every 3 people. Then 1.5 cups of water for every cup of rice. Turn on rice cooker.

After rice cooker is turned on grab one brown onion, fresh ginger, garlic, carrot and any chinese vegetables hanging around. Bok Choy (Baby) and Chinese cabbage (Baby) are easiest to have around.


Also get out Sesame Oil and Chinese 5 Spice mix.

Slice onion into half and then either angled quarters if you like chunky bits or thickish slices if you like longer thinner bits or as I usually do a bit of each way. Slice up carrots into thinnish 3 inch long slivers, chop up a chunk of ginger and also a few cloves of garlic. Wash dry and chop up chinese vegies in very big chunks. Put all of this on 2 plates ready.

Open can of Fried Dace with Black Bean ready and slice up fish inside tin a bit. Note: tin opening is badly designed and can cut fingers. Have opener nearby.

It's important to get all this ready now as the pace quickens dramatically as we go.

Get out wok. Place on highest heat on gas stove top.

Slop in a bit of peanut, or my new find, rice husk oil, and a decent bit of Sesame Oil. When hot plonk in onions and carrot and stir around with long spoon occasionally, after a short while chuck in garlic and ginger. Stir a bit. Drop in Chinese vegies. Stir. Shake in a bit of Chinese 5 Spice. Stir. Then drop in tin of Fried Dace and Black Bean. Make sure you scrape oil and beans out of tin. Stir to heat only and mix. If you have some sherry slosh a bit in now. Turn off flame.

The rice should have cooked and clicked off to warm about 3 minutes ago. Open lid of rice cooker and fluff up rice with rice cooker plastic spoon. Replace lid.

Grab large asian looking bowls and serve two or three scoops of rice in each and a good serve of fish and vegies mix on top. Alternatively I often put rice in big dish in centre of table and fish and vegies in another dish, throw a bunch of chopsticks on table and let the hordes serve themselves. Soy sauce bottle on table. Some like a bit of sweet chilli sauce but you'll find the stuff is interesting and chinesey enough.

Drinks: A large pot of weak Jasmine or Green Tea or a cold cold beer.

Quick - only takes as long as the rice cooking to prepare and very tasty. The trick is to have rice and fish always on hand. At a pinch you can still make a meal with out the rest. Leftovers can go in plastic meal-for-one size boxes in fridge and reheat ok for lunch next day. I never keep cooked rice more than 12 hours or so.

If you really aren't up to any real effort at all you can just plonk the rice in the cooker, pour a drink, watch TV for 15 minutes, or more, as cooker auto switches to warm when rice is cooked, then nuke can of fish, and put it on top of plate of rice. It works because the fish and it's packing oil are chocka block with chinese flavours and salt. Lots of salt.