flailing in my kitchen v3

How can I be sad when I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Showing posts filed under: stir fry

Thai basil stir fry

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.

Thai basil and mint stir fry with chicken, along with two plates of rice
too much shadow D:

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!

All of the cut veggies and chicken and sauce, in preparation for stir frying it
It looks like so much basil and mint when they're fresh

Hey, I learned my lesson about the peppers. I had to make some adjustments:

  • Slice up one red bell pepper instead of a hot pepper
  • Use a whole pound of chicken
  • Use a larger onion
  • Use ALL of the basil and mint you have
  • Water down the sauce a little, and double the sugar
Thai basil chicken stir fry in the pan
And then they just wittle down to nothing

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.

Bowl of rice and stir fry with chopsticks and more stir fry on the side
I use chopsticks so I eat more slowly

It was a very, very good meal.

Two attempts at noodles

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!

Stir fried noodles
Looks better than it tastes >.>

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.

  • Less salty components
  • More sugar
  • Get noodles and basil from the Asian store
  • Don't bother with the shallot, just use more scallions

So, noodles take 2!

Prep for stir fried noodles
I also added cornstarch to thicken it, and I added ginger just because I had some.

Stir fried noodles again

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 (:

Stir fry

Before I knew how to cook, my go-to meal was stir fry. My mom makes stir fry all the time, so that's what she sort of attempted to teach me in high school. I remember trying to cook for myself back when I was trying to get more fit and lose my freshman 40. I used Nerd Fitness and referenced their chicken stir fry blog post. I think people have this notion that stir fry is super easy. Whenever I look at stir fry recipes online, they give me cook and prep times of 15 minutes. What a fast meal!

...lies. They're all lies. Stir fry takes forever. I have to cut vegetables and meat. If you're new to cooking, you're probably new to chopping. You also should be stir frying food at high heat. High heat is not good for beginners. Also, what beginner cook has a giant wok available? If you use your standard 10 or 12 inch pan, your veggies are going to fly everywhere and hot things are going to smack you in the face.

But I guess I'm past being a beginner. I'm okay with using high heat again. I am still kind of slow at prep work though. I made this Chicken and Thai Basil Stir Fry about a week ago. I don't remember when I started prepping (maybe 8?), but it was 9:30pm when I finally had my meal ready. I know, I was just being slow.

Stir fry

Stir fry meal

It was good though! I always enjoy a good stir fry meal.

I cooked for my dad

Today I cooked lunch for my dad. I'll be honest, this stressed me out. My aunt told me I should make something for him, but I had no idea what to cook. I honestly don't know what my dad likes to eat besides burgers, noodles, and coconut macaroons. Work has exhausted me and stressed me out, and I didn't want to think about making a meal. But I had to.

So I went through my food blog. My whole food blog. And I settled on a couple of stir fry dishes: Thai Basil Chicken and Sauteed Green Beans and Eggplant. I made a grocery list and we went to the Korean store. And you know what happened? They were completely out of basil and green beans! So I was freaking out, trying to think of a Plan B, but then my dad said we could stop at a different Asian grocery store.

Okay, so it's already past 1pm, and I'm starting to prep for lunch. I've gotta chop up green beans, eggplant, bell pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, and chicken. I'm really slow. I don't think I actually started cooking until after 2pm. But if my 大姑 (dua go) were here she'd say "Oh, it must be snowing!" because I never cook around my dad's family and they live in the south.

It's one thing to cook in your own kitchen. It's another thing to cook in a kitchen you're unfamiliar with. I know, it's my dad's kitchen. I should be more familiar with it. But neither his stove nor his oven have any numbers on them! I have no idea where "medium heat" is. I couldn't even really use measuring spoons.

But, I made it work. I'm happy. My dad liked the food.

Stir fry

Pad Kra Pao

Last week I had bought Thai basil so I could put it in my green curry. In hindsight, I should have either put all of it in the curry, or just not bought it at all. Because what that left me with was some basil that was starting to look kinda sad. But that's okay! I can just put it in another stir fry! A bunch of leaves were getting really dark, so I did throw some out, but it still smelled fine, which is the the important part.

Pad Kra Pao prep

I decided to make Pad Kra Pao (Ground pork and basil stir fry) since it looked easy. And it was, but I realized I deviated a lot from the recipe:

  • I added a bell pepper, since I had one that I needed to use up.
  • The recipe called for two shallots, and to me, shallots are just expensive tiny red onions. I didn't even have those, so I just substituted it with half a yellow onion.
  • Holy crap, this called for 7 cloves of garlic! If I had known that, I would have bought more garlic two days ago. I only used 5 cloves because I needed to save some for a different dish.
  • I didn't add the chicken broth/water since it didn't seem necessary.
  • I used Thai basil, not Holy basil. Obviously.

Pad Kra Pao

As I was just about done cooking this, I had a realization. I didn't make rice yet! So, there I was, frantically getting rice, washing it, and then putting it in the rice cooker. And then I figured I should cut up a green onion to garnish this dish. I was getting really impatient, and right as the rice cooker clicked to "Warm" I took some rice out.

I don't know if other people's rice cookers function like mine, but you pretty much always have to wait 5 or 10 more minutes after it claims to be done cooking before it's actually done cooking. So the rice was a little on the hard side.

More Pad Kra Pao

Slightly undercooked rice aside, this was very good.

Filed under: stir fry

Showing posts filed under: stir fry