Tuesday, January 28, 2014

no renovations

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Here’s the truth: I really don’t like recipes all that much. Typically, when I’m interested in a making a particular dish, I will google a couple methods, talk to a few trusted people and then use the loose interpretation of those instructions as my base. And then I just simply do my own thang. Because I’m a m-----r f-----n renegade. And let us not be fooled, this method totally blows up in my face sometimes. But how else will I learn? It’s not that I don’t read cookbooks or the many food magazines I receive each month. In fact, I read them with the rapt attention that most of us reserve for the consumption of the Star Tracks portion of People Magazine (McConahey! Shirtless Jogging! AGAIN?!) And then, after reading, I stash them on a shelf in my kitchen and pretty much never refer to them again.

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But then came Chang. Joanne Chang, that is, and her Flour, Too cookbook; which was given to me by my Aunt Sally as a housewarming gift. Hit after hit after hit. This thing is SOLID GOLD. It’s like the Jay Z Blueprint of cookbooks. I have yet to EVEN make a substitution- that’s how blindly in love with this thing I am. First, it gave me yet another delicious lentil soup; then an appetizer for New Years Day; and then, last week, on a freezing cold Wednesday night it gave me one of the simplest, most satisfying healthy dinners I have had in recent memory. So here for you I present in their entirety, with absolutely no typical Porky-style renovations, unblemished, tasty perfection in the form of Scallion Pancakes and Mama Chang’s Hot and Sour Soup. I am literally counting the days until I can make this soup again. It takes all of 20 minutes to throw together, incorporates about 5 of my most favorite ingredients (pork, tofu, mushrooms, Sriracha, soy) and is just so damn good. GO! Make it! I’m running out of exclamation points.

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2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
1 tbsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, minced; plus two tbsp. for garnish
8 oz. ground pork
4 cups chicken stock
1 lb. block firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
4-5 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp. granulated sugar
2/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. sesame oil; plus 2 tsp. for garnish
1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 large eggs

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pork, garlic, ginger and scallions and sauté, breaking up a bit, for about one minute. Add the chicken stock and bring up to a simmer. Add the tofu, mushrooms, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil, sriracha and bring the soup back up to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Taste and add more sriracha if you would like more spice, more vinegar if you want more sour. I added probably another tablespoon of hot sauce and vinegar, as well as another little pinch of sugar. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blended and with the soup at a steady simmer (meaning there are some bubbles, but it is not a hard boil) slowly whisk in the eggs so they form strands. Divide the soup among 4 bowls and garnish each with a few drops sesame oil and some chopped scallions. Serve immediately.

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8-9 scallions, minced
¼ cup sesame oil
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 lb store bought pizza dough
About 1 ½ cups vegetable oil, for frying


3 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. sriracha sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. peeled and minced ginger
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 scallion, minced

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In a small bowl, mix together the scallions, sesame oil and salt. Cut the dough into thirds. On a well floured surface roll out one portion into a thin rectangle, about 5x10 inches. Spread a few spoonfuls of the scallion mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a ½ inch border the whole way around. Starting at a long side, roll up each rectangle and pinch the seam together to form a seal. Spiral each roll into a snail-looking coil and tuck the ends under. Repeat with each remaining section of dough and place all three coils in a warm area, covered loosely with plastic wrap for two hours.

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On a generously floured surface, press each coil into a flat circle and roll out into a flattened circle, about 10 inches in diameter. It’s fine if some of the scallion/sesame juice squishes out the sides a bit, but you may need more flour to prevent sticking to the counter. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until it is super hot and shimmering. While the oil heats, make the dipping sauce by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl, or putting them all in a jar and giving it a few strong shakes.

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To tell whether the oil is ready for frying: flick a pinch of flour in; if it sizzles, the temperature is right. Carefully add one pancake to the oil and fry for about 2 minutes per side, until golden colored. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and continue with the other two batches of dough. Let the oil come back up to temperature between each pancake by taking that time to roll out the next disk.

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