11 September 2012

On Inciting a Stir Fry

Article Melissa Ward. Photographs; Brent McGregor Photography

My whole family cooks and everyone has different ideas about food. When we get together the first thing we do is to jump up and down and fix a big meal together, drink wine or beer while we’re at it and have a lovely repast which we hail with more wine, lots of stories, more laughter, a few photographs. I don’t think that we are fully vested foodies because ultimates and extravagance are not really a factor. I’d say we are something like feasties, because we do just love getting together and eating together.  Symbolically strong, emotionally refreshing.  I don’t really call it communion anymore, but it is.

I personally have some culinary parameters.  I am a political vegetarian, a term that I made up to avoid the appearance of virtue.  I also eschew dairy products, except for butter, because I truly can get along with little or no cheese but I’m helpless without butter, chipotle or otherwise, on corn on the cob.  I am also trying to give up profanity but that is another matter.

Here is our family recipe for Peanut Sauce that is very quick to prepare and which adds a compelling zing and richness to complement the simple stir fry with great fresh Farmers Market vegetables in any season.   You can ramp up or tone down the spice factor with the hot chili oil.  Ad lib with raw vegetables and serve it cold as a pasta salad, too.

It keeps in the refrigerator for a week so you can work ahead and feel clever. It also freezes well, which makes it a very smart small project you can easily double to keep the troops happy and reduce the cook’s flurry when called upon to make a great meal quickly.

Above all, it is economical to make and re-make once you have the long term ingredients in the larder.

I got the recipe from my brother-in-law, who was a truly great professor of Geography in Colorado. He made a point of passing it around to his graduate students along with a lot of other practical wisdom because he loved them and wanted them to be well fed as well as happy.

The Peoples’ Peanut Sauce

Put into the blender or food processor and process 1 minute:

Stir it Up

1/2 C. soy sauce

1/2 C. rice vinegar

3/4 C. cold water

2 T. sugar

1 tsp. salt

4 tsp peeled, grated or minced fresh (or frozen) ginger root

2 tsp. garlic, coarsely chopped

Add and process 1 minute:

3/4 C. smooth peanut butter

Combine and drizzle into the blender or food processor as it runs:  

6 T. peanut oil

6 T. sesame oil

1 tsp. hot chili oil, more or less but this is a good start.

My partner likes this lovely condiment lavished on Organic long grain brown rice that we buy wholesale from Glory Bee, very tender 2 minute Korean noodles, Bowtie Pasta with green beans and red peppers, purple cabbage, celery, anything.  His contribution is to homogenize the peanut butter for me with a beater attached to his power drill.  I recommend it, if just for the visual.  Evidence that life in the outback is intense, strangely fulfilling.