Guys, I'm making such good progress on my quest to get rid of everything in my pantry, and I think I'll actually be able to get through everything by July! I've gotten through various ingredients with long shelf lives, and now I pretty much only have sauces and vinegars left.
And I have a lot of Asian sauces, so it's time to make some Asian food.
Last entry I mentioned that I have a bottle of Chinese black vinegar that's been expired for a while. I've been looking up recipes to use up that vinegar, and I came across these glass noodles with cabbage. I love glass noodles. I've made a different cabbage and glass noodle recipe from Woks of Life before, and that was delicious, so I figured this one would be too.
And it was! But it was also a little too spicy, and I really should have known better than to put four dried chiles in this because this is exactly what happened last time I made glass noodles.
I also figured that this Chinese black vinegar would go well with some dumplings, so I bought some frozen dumplings (I know I usually make them myself, but I was lazy). I mixed it into a dipping sauce along with golden mountain seasoning sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and some water, which tasted great with dumplings.
I had saved this hot and sour dumpling soup recipe from Woks of Life because it looked really good, and this was the perfect opportunity to make it.
My first attempt wasn't that great, and the soup looked really dark. I guess I didn't have the chili oil that I needed to give the soup a red color like in the recipe. But it was also too oily, too salty, and too sesame seed-y. The fact that I only have black sesame seeds didn't help the color balance either.
But I tried it again a few days later, and I adjusted the amounts of each sauce. I also fried the garlic for a little to bring out the flavor more. It was definitely better, but I think it could still use more tweaking. I'm all out of dumplings for now, though I might buy more because those dumplings were really good.
And just yesterday, I made some fried rice! I had leftover Chinese sausage from another meal, and this was a good way to use that up. Because I basically just use Woks of Life for finding Asian recipes, I also used their Chinese sausage fried rice recipe.
I realized this isn't shown in the picture, but I have a bottle of rice cooking wine that's been sitting in my pantry for who knows how long, so I used that instead of Shaoxing wine. I only used a dash of it, so I have no idea if it really made a difference in flavor. I also added waaay more soy sauce than the recipe called for. (The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon! That's nothing!) (Wait, I said this last time I made it)
This was really good! I still have two links of the sausage so I think I'll make some more this week. I need to get better at just pouring soy sauce and salt and sugar by feel instead of always measuring.
Finally, I made some beef and cabbage stir fry! I don't quite remember why I decided to make this, but I think it's because I knew my boyfriend was coming over, and he really likes this dish.
Look at those carrot slices! My sister bought a mandoline, and kept it at my place, and it's been sitting in a drawer for years, and I finally used it to slice up my carrot. Thanks sister!
This past week has been a busy week, but today is a lazy Saturday, so I was able to cook and take my time. Plus it was a very nice and sunny morning (as opposed to the wind and rain that's happening right now) and I had to take advantage of that natural lighting. I saw some youtube videos on scallion oil noodles, and they looked really good so I wanted to make some for myself.
I used both Binging with Babish and J. Kenji Lopez Alt for inspiration. I only had 5 scallions, so I cut most of them into these little strips, and also diced some little circles for garnish at the end. Cutting them like this takes way more time, but it's a lazy Saturday, so I don't care.
I wish I had more scallions though. I think this could have used three times as much.
See that last photo? That was perfect. I should have taken the pan off the heat before it got to that point, so the residual heat would actually cook it to that point, which is exactly what the youtube videos told me to do, but I didn't listen. So I may have overcooked my scallions a little, but that's okay. They were still tasty.
I tossed my noodles in the scallion oil as well as some sugar, light and dark soy sauce, and some Chinese black vinegar (which has been sitting in my pantry for waaay too long--that's gonna take a while to use up). The flavor was good!
The noodles themselves were a bit sticky, and that might have been because I bought the noodles from an American grocery store instead of an Asian one. I also used a little too much of the oil. But I've got more scallion oil and more noodles and waaay more sauce, so I'll be making this a few more times this week, and I'll keep tweaking it to my tastes.
Still on my quest to clear out everything in my kitchen! I'm making progress!
I have finally used up all of the two curry packets that my aunt gave me several months ago. I think I used 1/3 of a single packet each time I cooked some curry, and one dish would last me four meals. Kenji's kare raisu recipe has been my go-to way of preparing curry, even when my curry powder is Malaysian and not Japanese.
When I made spring rolls a couple of months ago, I had some leftover vermicelli (because I always have leftover noodles), so I made some Singapore noodles with them. I sort of referenced this recipe on Budget Bytes, but I didn't measure anything, so I'm sure I used more curry powder and soy sauce than what it called for. Noodles were a little soggier than I'd like, but that was to be expected, and it was still delicious.
Something else that I had leftover from the spring rolls was toasted rice. I was looking up other ways to use toasted rice, and I saw that it's used in larb! I've never made larb before, but my aunt makes it (and hers is delicious), so I wanted to give it a try. The Woks of Life recipe said that you can serve it with some sticky rice, and I just happened to have a bag of in my pantry. This was tasty, but not nearly as good as my aunt's.
Finally, I had a little bit of cornmeal still sitting in my pantry, so I decided to use it all up and make some cornbread. I just followed the recipe that was listed on the container, and I had exactly the amount of cornmeal that it called for! I also figured this was a good reason to use my square muffin pan. The cornbread was easy to make, but it did have some weird volcano-like action going on while it was baking, and each piece had a little point at the top which was not what I expected.
Oh, I impulsively bought some "Mediterranean spiced salmon" from Aldi because it was half off, even though I'm pretty sure I've had more than one person tell me that the pre-marinated pieces of fish at grocery stores are terrible. Well, I had never tried one myself, but uh, I have to agree. It was really bad. It would have tasted better if I had just baked a piece of plain salmon.
I also had spinach leftover from that sad chicken alfredo pasta, so I decided to go full-on Boston Market and make some creamed spinach. This was pretty bad. I should have just made a salad and eaten the spinach raw.
But look at the bright side. I'm getting closer to having empty kitchen cabinets 🤩
Whenever I need Thai basil for a dish, I always end up having some left over, so I end up making a stir fry dish using the rest of it. That was my plan with pho. But we actually went through so much basil while we were eating noodles, that I didn't have enough left for a stir fry!
Thai basil also goes bad really really fast, so by the time I wanted to make stir fry, I felt like it was already rotting. But I was committed to making this dish, so I had to buy another bag. I actually went to one of the nearby Asian grocery stores, and when I asked the person working there, they told me they didn't sell Thai basil and to "check Giant Eagle". What?! I know the local Giant Eagle doesn't stock Thai basil, and if they did, they would charge me an arm and a leg.
So I drove to the better Asian grocery store the next day. Okay. I finally had everything I needed.
This tasted pretty good, but it just seemed like way too much effort for the amount of food it produced. Pulling apart basil and mint leaves is SO tedious. It's worse than chopping!
And the worst part of it all was that I used a really hot red pepper. I think it was a red jalapeno! I didn't realize those could be red! I just thought, oh, this will add some nice color. Nope. Should have gone with a bell pepper. I deseeded the pepper with my bare hands, and then I popped a piece of beef jerky that I was snacking on into my mouth, and it started to BURN. I was still feeling the sting days later. I went to wash my face in the morning, and then my eyes felt it. I could even feel it burning my fingernails as I was trying to pluck my armpit hairs!
ANYWAY, back on to the topic of cooking. I was feeling way too lazy, so I only ended up using half of both bags of leaves. That meant I had enough to make the dish again!
Hey, I learned my lesson about the peppers. I had to make some adjustments:
Okay, this definitely could have used more basil/mint, but I wasn't about to go to the Asian store a fourth time. I liked that I made a larger amount of food this time. I might have added a little too much water, so I think the right amount would be just a single teaspoon added to the sauce mixture.
It was a very, very good meal.
Last week, as I was browsing through food blogs at night, I stumbled across a stir fry noodle recipe that looked interesting. The pictures looked really good, but the comments were pretty mixed. Quite a few people said it was too salty, but some people really loved it. I'm never sure about Asian inspired recipes from non-Asian food bloggers, but I gave it a shot.
I already had a bell pepper and some scallions. I figured I would just omit the hot peppers, zucchini, and carrots. I did want some basil, but my local non-Asian grocery store only had really expensive Italian basil. So I bought a tiny container of expensive Italian basil. The store does have an Asian section, so I was able to get an 8oz pack of rice noodles. I also bought a single shallot and a single piece of chicken breast. I was running low on soy sauce, but I did have a lot of Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce, so I figured that was close enough.
The recipe claims that it takes 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time. I decided to time myself. It took me 52 minutes, 44 seconds to make the dish, prep and cook. That's actually faster than I expected!
Heeey that looks pretty good! Unfortunately it was way too salty, just like all of those commenters said it would be. I didn't even put as much soy sauce as it called for! I also don't think the Italian basil made sense, and the noodles from the non-Asian grocery store were...not great.
The peanuts were a nice touch though.
It wasn't so bad that I didn't finish it all. But whenever I'm trying out a new recipe, the cogs in my brain immediately start turning and thinking about how I'd modify it.
So, noodles take 2!
This second attempt was much better! And it was slightly easier for me to put together. I think it took me about 48 minutes, start to finish. If I made this a third time, I'd probably increase the amount of fish sauce a little, add a little bit of dark soy sauce, and decrease the oyster sauce. But I think I'm good on stir fried noodles for a while.
I'd say that the best part about making these noodles was that I got to share it with two of my friends, who both enjoyed eating it (: