Monday, April 27, 2009

What's for Dinner?

For some, the eternal questions run deep; What is the meaning of life? Where will I go when I die? Is there a God? Do I have a greater purpose? For me, this quest has always had a decidedly gastronomical rather than spiritual focus--what's for dinner? This question has plagued me since I was a child when I would pester my poor mother practically from the moment I got up in the morning. Mom, what are we having for dinner? I would ask. You haven't even eaten breakfast, she would sigh, already exhausted by the prospect of spending a day with a persistent redheaded girl who asked a lot of questions. It's no different today, when I still wonder the same thing, except for the unfortunate detail that I am the one who is in charge of meal planning and preparation. So, of course, it falls to me to both present the query and the answer. Ugh. I hate that sometimes.

Today was no exception--all day long I fretted about dinner; what I should cook, if I needed ingredients at the market, and if I needed to look up a recipe. I was uninspired, uninterested and underwhelmed by the idea of cooking. I like it so much more when I've assessed what I have purchased at the market and I set aside time to make a plan. The good news was that even though I lacked a menu for the week, I did have bagfuls of fresh farmers' market produce looking to be put to good use, and some tofu in the freezer. So I pushed through my inertia and nearly overpowering desire to order take-out, and made dinner after all. A spring veggie stir-fry with brown rice.

Healthy and satisfying at once, this dish really is an easy one to fall back on, provided you have plenty of fresh veg. The sauce works with just about any produce, so use what is freshest and what is seasonal, and most of all, what you have on hand.

Quick Hoisin Stir-Fry
serves 4

1 T freshly grated ginger
1 small head broccoli, chopped (including stems which can be thinly sliced)
5 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
2 small bunches bok choy, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, de-stringed
1 bunch scallions, washed well and sliced into 1-inch segments
1/2 block tofu, cubed
Brown rice, cooked according to package directions
Toasted sesame seeds

For the sauce:
Combine 2 T soy sauce, 2 T hoisin sauce, 1 T rice wine vinegar, 1 T sherry or white wine, 1 t chili garlic paste, and 1 t cornstarch.

Heat 2 T vegetable oil in a large wok or saucepan over high heat. Add ginger and stir-fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add tofu and stir gently until lightly browned. Toss in broccoli and stems and carrots and fry for 2 minutes, then add the remaining vegetables and stir well. Pour in 1/2 C water and scrape up any dark bits from the bottom of the pan. Cover pan and let steam for 1-2 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender. Uncover, pour in sauce and stir until thickened (1-2 minutes). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with soy sauce on the side.


Table Talk said...

Great post! We stir fry at least twice a week. I love being able to get everything chopped in the morning, and after a busy day it's ready to throw in the wok.

Kim (@ Paper Apron) said...

Good mom, good meal. This looks like a perfect little stir fry sauce. I just found your blog on FB-- it's a fun read! Your zeal for life and food is uplifting and inspiring. I think I'll get out to my farmer's market today and plunder the fresh veg...

Alison said...

Thanks for your comments TT and Kim. :)