Cooking, listening to Coltrane on a nice Sunday afternoon

Tartine for brunch with David, Sushmita, Theo and Molly. Coffee with Jerry. Christmas play at the Cornerstone Church, and now Steph is making a baked vegetable tian, and I'm making pesto capellini with breadcrumb encrusted tilapia fillets.
It's raining in San Francisco. It's very much a Trane afternoon. We are feeling very adult contemporary.

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For dinner tonight: Mushroom Chicken Fried Rice with Garlic Snow Pea Shoots

My favorite thing to do is to improvise fried rice. Here's what I had lying around...

4 eggs
2 cups of cooked white rice
4 cups of brown/wild rice medley
3 cups of chopped button mushrooms
1 lb of grilled and diced chicken breast
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of white pepper finely ground
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, diced finely
1/4th of an onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons peanut oil

I heated my cast iron wok for about 5 minutes on medium-high, drop 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in, and cracked the 4 eggs in. Scrambled with my spatula, then removed from the pan. Turned the heat to high, and used the other 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and browned the garlic. Once the garlic was brown, I put in the mushrooms and cooked those down a bit until softer, then dropped in the chicken and onions. Then I added all the rice and other ingredients including the egg, and cooked for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. It came out perfect, and now I have enough food for the rest of the week.

As for the snow pea shoots:

3 lbs of snow pea shoots (man it was huge, but it cooks down a lot)
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon white pepper
4 tablespoons peanut oil

Heated the peanut oil and browned the garlic on high heat, then dropped the whole mass of snow pea shoots into the wok. Here's where it's interesting. My Dad always told me to NOT to stir immediately, but instead let it cook down on high heat. It gives the bottom shoots a darker texture, and then maybe 3 or 4 minutes in, turn over once and mix a bit. Towards the end, I added the white pepper.

So there you go-- It's hard/impossible to mess up fried rice, and snow pea shoots (found only at your local Chinese market) are a great veggie companion. And actually it's the soy sauce / oyster sauce / rice vinegar that really brings the whole dish together, I find. Bon Appétit!

On the menu tonight... Pan-seared Fresh Salmon with a Lemon-Herb Reduction and Buttered Brussel Sprouts

I got my new cast-iron wok tonight, and had Mark and Sanny over for dinner promptly after seasoning it. Cast iron woks are heavy as heck and require seasoning, but so far I've been impressed with the amount of heat the wok dishes out. This is the first time I've felt like I've had a wok that's hot enough to properly cook at the right temperature -- flimsy IKEA woks just don't cut it on an electric burner.

I bought 2 pounds (4 fillets) of Fresh Atlantic Salmon fillets from Safeway, descaled it with a serated knife, and dropped it on the very hot preheated wok with a tiny bit of oil in there. Literally dropped it, because I actually splashed hot oil on my arm have about 5 or 6 big red second degree burns on my right arm from it now. ARGH. Luckily Mark ran out and grabbed some aloe for me across the street. I seared the salmon in the wok on high heat for 3 minutes, then transferred the fillets to a pyrex baking dish for broiling 4 inches from the top heating elements for another 3 minutes. Salt, pepper, and top it off with a light lemon-herb reduction, brown rice and buttered brussel sprouts.

The lemon-herb reduction was a simple mix of about 1/4th of a cup of finely diced fresh sage, thyme and parsely, half a stick of butter, and 2 cups of chicken broth boiled down to a nice sauce. I threw in a table spoon of corn starch to thicken it just a tad.

Since moving to South of Market, I've basically become completely domesticated. The dearth of cheap good food in the area and the lack of a car has resulted in a 300% increase in my cooking. Now if only my cooking safety skills would catch up.

It's kind of like in The Sims when your sim only has 1 or 2 levels of cooking proficiency, and promptly proceeds to chop off his own hand or burn down the house. Yeah. Kind of like that.