There are two really cool things about my DH. One is that he is willing to try almost any food once, and even if he doesn’t like it the first time, he’ll try it a few more times to make sure. The other thing is that when he found out I was Gluten Intolerant (Celiac, actually), he didn’t even blink and continued with his efforts to sweep me off my feet- with gluten free foods instead of gluten foods. As I got to know him better, I found out that his favorite thing in the entire universe is actually Chinese food, which was rather sad as I rarely have success dining at most Chinese places. Even when friends have tried ordering for me (in Cantonese, no less), simple things like vegetables stir fried in salt and oil somehow don’t escape the contamination monster, resulting in me feeling icky all evening. Boo. In recent years I’ve discovered the joys of Chinese American Restaurants like P.F. Chang and their sister restaurant, Pei Wei with their gluten free menus, but when DH and I were first dating I didn’t know of anywhere where I could eat Chinese food safely. So, when DH had a craving for Chinese food, I’d drink tea and eat plain rice and, let’s be honest, mope a little bit. When DH proposed and I suddenly had a fiancee facing years of Chinese food deprivation, I decided that it was high time that I learn how to prepare Chinese food properly. I started experimenting with a book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who wrote what in my opinion is the best Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook ever, (out of print) book, From the Earth: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking. I learned new techniques like blanching vegetables and incorporating them in corn starch thickened sauces to avoid blandness- I learned how to season oil with scallions or fresh garlic clove- and I learned how healthful and delicious Chinese vegetarian food could be, and grew to love it as much as DH. There have been some failures. I can’t help but think of my first time steaming bok choy, when I misread the directions and steamed the life out of that poor baby green for 30 minutes, resulting in slime that could possibly have been used in a horror movie as a stand in for gelatinous goo trailed by some nightmarish creature. It also took several times working with a recipe to perfect the steaming time and balance of sauce to ingredients, but once I mastered each recipe we’d have another regular favorite for our Chinese meals. One of the first recipe I mastered is this recipe for Broccoli and Mushrooms. The freshness of the mushrooms are key, and I prefer to use whole broccoli stalks, cutting my own florets, as the ones you buy precut are usually slightly wilted and mopey by the time you get them to your fridge at home, while the whole broccoli remains more robust. We often increase the sauce by about 1/3rd or so, as DH likes a lot of yummy sauce with his vegetables. I just love this dish, as it incorporates two of my favorite veggies. I made a P.F. Chang Style tofu recipe to accompany it, of course using fresh, delicious toofu from the farmer’s market. (For those allergic to tofu, the original at PF Changs is made with chicken or shrimp, so you could try the recipe substituting your favorite ingredient.) What delicious Chinese foods do you prepare at home?
Best Ever Chinese Broccoli Mushroom Recipe
1/3 cup vegetable stock (I use Vegetable boullion)
2 tsp low sodium San-J wheat free tamari
1 1/2 tsp sherry
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of pepper
Mix sauce ingredients and reserve.
Bring water, salt, and ginger in pan to a boil and blanch mushrooms for a minute or so, then draining. Bring water back to boil and blanch broccoli briefly (30 seconds or so) until bright green- don’t overcook! strain and rinse in cold water, drain.
Heat wok over high, add scallion oil or peanut oil and heat. Add whole garlic to oil and turn over when brown, removing when both sides are brown and oil has been infused with flavor. Let white smoke appear above oil and add minced ginger, garlic, and salt, stirring briefly. As garlic turns light brown, add mushroom caps and broccoli, stir frying for up to two minutes. Create space in center of wok for sauce, stir sauce to make sure cornstarch hasn’t clumped, and pour in. Mix ingredients as sauce thickens, remove from heat, put in serving dish and enjoy with rice.
We love this. Sometimes I increase proportion of sauce to ingredients for additional yum.