Birthday belly.

Jim turned 25 last Monday.  His birthday request was short and specific: cook him the pork belly we ate at Resto.  He didn’t care what else was served, or even who was there; he just wanted that belly—in all it’s maple-and-lime, turnips on the side, decadently sauced goodness.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have a recipe.  It wasn’t on the restaurant’s website.  Nothing came back when I searched “maple and lime pork belly”.  The only thing I was sure of was the kimchi soubise—pretty self-explanatory: soubise is a bechamel with pureed onions in it, so kimchi soubise would substitute kimchi for the onions.  I also knew there were turnips and green onions involved.  But nada on the cooking methods, well, other than the fact that the waiter said the belly was glazed.

[And before you go gasping Bechamel! On pork belly?! let me explain. You don’t need a lot. And it was so good. It clung to the fried fat, yes, the layer of pan-fried fat on the pork belly, and made it even creamier and smoother and delicious-y-er. And it was his birthday. And we were celebrating. (Not that we won’t make it again – we will. Celebration or no. Because it was that good.)]

So, I started off with what I knew.  I put the pork belly, fat side down, in an enameled dutch oven and rendered for 25-30 minutes.  This is where, if you’ve never rendered the fat of a pork belly, you have to be brave.  You’ll be sure that the meat is burning, that you’ve got to flip it over, or that the whole thing will overcook.  It won’t (well, if it really, really, really seems to be burning, it probably is).  If you look up to my pork, you’ll see the blackness of it—and that’s the way I like it.  After it rendered I poured off the fat, sauteed an onion, and put the pork belly back in the pot, fat side up now, with a few glugs of maple, the juice of a lime, and a couple pieces of ginger.  I added water to three-quarters up the side of the belly and prayed for the best during the three hours that it braised.

Then I made the soubise, with unhomogenized grass-fed milk.  If you haven’t used this stuff for white-sauce making, please, drop  your laptop and leave the house.  Go to the nearest Whole Foods, or organic food store, no matter how far it may be, and buy some.  Then get yourself home straightaway and make a bechamel, it will be thicker, creamier, and saucier than anything you’ve made with pasteurized milk.  You don’t need to put it on anything, eat it from the spoon.  (And then please come back here because I haven’t finished yet.)

Finally, when the pork was tender and falling apart, I sliced it thickly and put it into a nonstick pan with diced turnips.  I let it fry away—rendering more fat, browning, just reaching black—until both the pork belly and the turnips were charred and fried and unimaginably good.  It was tough, but I made it all onto a plate, covered it with the soubise and green onions and ever (I don’t know where I found the willpower) took a few photos.

And we celebrated Jim’s quarter century.  It was everything he could want in a birthday dish.  And, if I do say so myself (and Jim says too!!), better than Resto’s.

Pork Belly with Turnips, Kimchi Soubise, and Green Onions

  • 1 ½ pound pork belly
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • ½ cup kimchi, chopped or pureed a bit
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ¼ cups unhomogenized whole milk
  • 5-6 medium sized turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper

Score the fat side of the pork belly in a crosshatch pattern.  In a hot pan, place the pork belly fat side down over medium-high heat and render the fat for 25-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove pork belly and drain off all but 1 teaspoon of the fat.  Put pan back on the heat.  Add onions and saute for a few minutes.  Add maple, lime juice (reserving zest) and ginger.  Add pork belly.  Add enough water to reach halfway to three-quarters up the side of the belly.  Cover and move to oven.  Cook for 3 and a half hours, uncovering when you have about an hour to go.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown — about 2 minutes.  Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil.  Add kimchi puree to taste and cook a bit longer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Remove pork belly from pot.  Slice thickly.  In a nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, add a few spoonfuls of the liquid from the pork belly’s pot.  Add the turnips, and saute for a minute or two.  Add the pork belly slices and leave in place in the pan for 5 minutes, moving the turnips around every 30 seconds or so.  Flip the pork belly slices and let the other sides brown for 5 minutes.  Remove slices to a plate, frying up the turnips in the rendered fat a but longer, until they are very brown.  Remove turnips to plate.  Drizzle warmed kimchi soubise over pork belly and sprinkle with green onions.  Serve hot with crisp, cold beers.

Hatteras Village Vacation

So. My vacation. As you can tell from my lack of posting this week, I’m still pretending to be on it. I’m a firm believer that no vacation should last for less than 2 weeks and if I can’t still be on vacation in reality, I’m on the beach in spirit.

The vacation was wonderful. We rented a little cabana with bright yellow walls and starfish decorations. The whole area was practically to ourselves as not many people are vacationing in North Carolina in March (it’s still pretty cold there.) The first few days were tumultuously windy. With vacationy-good-cheer, we made the best of it and took long walks on the beach anyway. The weather cleared within a few days. We took nature-walks through lush sea-side forests. Champ was unwillingly washed. And we ate a ton of tuna.

On the super-windy days, we checked out the local restaurants. I won’t say our eating over vacation was overall-tasty, or on-average-satisfying because, really, it was some of the best, and some of the worst, food that I’ve had in a long time. About the worst I won’t say much—just that when we first arrived at “our little fishing village on the tip of the Outer Banks,” I was surprised to see a lot of people very overweight and otherwise un-healthy-looking. Not that I have anything against portliness, not in the least, it’s just that this kind of portliness—it’s the McDonald’s variety, not the foie gras and creme brulee type—is unnerving. The latter is no less health-hazardous but I find it less sad. The more I learn about the dreaded farm bill, and corn subsidies, and evil corporation’s PR campaigns, the more disheartening it is to see obese people, many of whom work what I assume to be (and I know because I’ve worked many of these) underpaid jobs.

I’ve got to admit at first I was amazed. In an area where you could get the freshest fish I’ve ever tasted for cheaper than usual prices, how can the people living there be overweight? I had imagined they were all slinky gods and goddess, with sheeny hair and perfect skin. And then I ate at the restaurants. A lot of them were teeming with fast-food type fare, sometimes without the fast food prices! I realized how good I’ve been eating over the past year (how bad some people in this country have been)—and how little I’ve spent to eat my way.

Jim and I always complain about how much we spend on our fancy cheese and organic fruit at Whole Foods, but we spent about triple the amount of money on a week’s worth of food on vacation—and didn’t even eat out the whole time! And jesus, money aside, most of the food sucked. See, I’m all for spending 100 bucks on a dinner that I can savor and enjoy, but spending 50 on something that belongs in a school cafeteria (and if I had it my way, it wouldn’t even belong there) is a damn shame. I wanted to do something. I wanted to scream that it’s not that hard to cook! And a bag of beans and rice is so much cheaper than a Mikkey-Dee’s! And it will even fill you up better—not the filled up I feel sick feeling that results from eating twice your daily caloric intake in one meal!

Did I say I wouldn’t say much about the worst? Whoops. Well, at least I won’t name any bad-restaurant names publicly (if you really want to know, email me) and I’ll stop ranting now and move onto the good stuff.

I had a few firsts down in North Carolina—my first crawfish, my first (enjoyed) oyster, my first taste of alligator(!) We ate the alligator solely for the novelty of it. The pieces of alligator tail were tender but also a little rubbery—somewhere between the texture of fish and pork, oddly enough. The restaurant owner who offered the alligator gave a nice lesson of how alligators are farm-raised in Louisiana—in big indoor swamps, kept dark at all times, with the doors only opened when the (assumedly-scared-shitless) farmer needs to feed his stock. Can’t say I’m hankering to eat alligator again but the dish was indeed fun.

I tried crawfish and enjoyed its lobster-like flavor and meatiness—after, that is, I shamefully admitted to the bar girl that I had no idea what to do with the things, presenting her with the two specimens I thoroughly mangled before giving up. She graciously obliged, showing me how to start by pulling off the tail (mentioning that I could suck out the head if I wanted to be “authentic”) and then how to “shimmy” the meat out. After I finished 1/2 a pound—my hands stained red from the Old Bay and drawn butter glistening my lip—I proudly announced to her that I’d mastered the art of crawfish eating.

At this same friendly, delicious bar, I fell in love with oysters. I ate them the way, I realize now, they should always be eaten—unpretentiously, ordered at the bar by the dozen and served on a styrofoam plate with a few wedge of lemon and a bit of cocktail sauce. Little plump pillows, the oysters were transcendent. Briny, tasting of the shells they slept in. I’ve had oysters before, at fancy NYC restaurants paying an outrageous price per pop, but I enjoyed them ten-fold more in this small, dank North Carolina bar.

Finally, the tuna. Once the weather brightened, Jim and I didn’t want to do anything but be outside, and decided to start buying all our dinners at the local seafood market. We would show up at 5PM, as the boats were getting in, and spend some time on the docks watching the fishermen slice up their bounty, the pelicans chomping at the bit. Once inside, where though it was a small room full of fish, the only smell in our nostrils was that of the fresh, crisp, ocean. Nothing was fishy smelly. It was unlike any fish I’ve ever encountered and I knew we’d have to have tuna tartare.

It was fantastic. No, that’s not the right word. It was awe-some. It was hilariously, ridiculously good—we laughed the whole time we ate, unable to believe our plates. The only bad part was realizing that tuna tartare, my favorite dish to order at restaurants, would henceforth pale in comparison to the fresh, sea-scented tuna we had in the Outer Banks.

A Tuna Tartare Un-Recipe

This is an un-recipe because it’s really just a basic idea—something that you can go off of if you have no idea how to start upon tuna tartare. But really, it’s just a bouncing-off point, and you need to experiment and find the perfect taste for you.

  • 1 1/2 pound sashimi-grade tuna
  • 1 or 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced white parts only
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • pinch of sugar
  • juice of a lime

Slice tuna into strips against the grain and cut into dices. Combine tuna with avocado and scallions. In a separate bowl, combine rest of ingredients, mixing well. Taste and adjust. Taste with a piece of the tuna and if it’s to your liking, pour over tuna. Mix and serve with sesame crackers.

Jean-Georges, Momofuko Ssam Bar, and Bouchon Bakery

All in one day.*

Photo from New York Times

Jim and I ventured to the city Saturday, with tickets to Tom Stoppard’s play. We walked up to the theatre, passing an unusually large mass of police and cop-cars, as well as some angry looking people, and learned at the entrance that the play was cancelled. The stage-hands had gone on strike.

After a few minutes of pity-partying, we decided that we’d make a good day out of our trip—we’d gotten someone to come over to walk the dog, planning to be out for over 12 hours, so why not take advantage of that?

Without even planning it, the day revolved around food. We had already eaten lunch at Jean-Georges, lunches of tuna tartare and then hake with coconut-milk broth and mango (for me), and mushroom soup with curried chicken and enoki mushroom and then petite filet with brussel sprouts and couscous (for Jim). The lunch was finished with a chocolate cake (or more like a chocolate marshmellow over a graham-cracker crust) with pumpkin ice cream. Everything was superb. The flavors were at once bold but not overwhelming, and the dessert captured the sense of “autumn” more perfectly than I could ever imagine. And this menu, prix-fixe, cost 24.00 per person. I am still swooning.

After that lunch, it was hard to get too disappointed about the play—we were already having such a good time and the meal alone was worth the trip into NYC. Wanting to walk off the dessert, we linked hands and strolled over to Union Square, to check out the farmer’s market. We bought some wonderful spiced hot apple cider and sipped the fragrant drink on a bench in the park, happily people watching, almost in a daze.

From there we wandered to Momofuku Ssam Bar—you know, the restaurant/gourmet fast food joint owned by David Chang. The one with the steamed pork belly buns. They are as good as the hype. Unctuous pork belly is offset by piquant pickles and the perfectly steamed buns make for a chewy, glorious little sandwich. It was probably the fattest sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but every single calorie was worth it.

Finishing our Japanese beers, we headed off for a long walk from the village to the Time-Warner building. Since we were at Momofuko at the tail end of their lunch menu, we didn’t get dessert (which is only on the dinner menu). Passing the Time-Warner building, headed for the car, I suddenly remembered that Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery was in there, a floor below Per Se. We excitedly ran in, and ordered two sandwiches, an eclair, a chocolate tart, and two cookies—a little snack for when we got home. The bakery’s food was fantastic as we munched on it hours later in the apartment, and I can imagine that Per Se is off the charts if this is what Keller offers as ready-made prepared food. Popping in a movie and feeding each other chocolates for the rest of the night, I was actually glad the stage-hands were striking.

*photo yoinked from New York Times website.

Nicholas

I am a fledgling restaurant snob, learning that it’s not worth going out to eat unless the food wows, the atmosphere flows, and memories are made. So, over the past year, Jim and I have done a lot of dining in NYC, leaving NJ restaurants to days when we are too tired to cook or drive to the city.

Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ, put my NYC-food snobbery to shame.

The restaurant, sitting unassumingly on a regular suburban highway near the Jersey Shore, is cozy but chic. There are candles lighted in the fireplace and jazzy music. Two divided rooms make up the restaurant, one with a bar and booths, and the other somewhat fancier, fine dining-looking.

I had the crab and avocado salad, potato gnocchi with braised artichokes, lobster in white truffle sauce and pulled pork in a cinnamon jus. To top it off (like anything that ridiculously delicious needed topping off), the table shared a cheese plate and we all had plates sampling the best desserts—including an orgasmic creme brulee and the best molten chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted!

Throughout the entire dinner, we were treated better than what you normally get at a restaurant of this scale in NYC. The waiters gave beautiful gifts of blueberry bread at the end of the meal, extending the Nicholas experience until breakfast the next morning. And even the smallest things, like the tableware, made me feel fawned over—in NYC I usually find the outwardly beautiful tableware to be a lower quality than what it looks like when I lift it up and inspect. At Nicholas, however, the silver was heavy, high quality and gleaming. Now if that’s not restaurant snobby, you tell me what is! I guess I will pack away my NYC food bias, and leave my snobbery to the forks and knives!

Bronx Zoo & Gotham Bar and Grill

Saturday was my birthday—the big 2-3. Jim, my sister Janel, and her husband Rob took me to the Bronx Zoo. We got to witness the gorillas at their feeding time, where they were both entertaining and eerily too-human. I had a fantastic and memorable time.

After the zoo, we went to the Gotham Bar and Grill on 12th Street. We sat at a bar table before a beautiful room of billowing curtains and gorgeous china. Jim and I dined at Gotham last year and were wowed by their pasta, which changes daily, so all four of us ordered the offering of goat cheese ravioli. The dish was too salty, but it worked with the goat cheese. As long as you didn’t have too much broth in your spoon, the bite of ravioli tasted great. I used my two buttery dinner baguettes to soak up the rest of the broth, offsetting the saltiness.

For dinner, Janel and I ordered steak with onion rings, Jim the soft-shell crab, and Rob the lobster tail. All of the entrees tasted delicious. Each dish had a flavor set of its own. My steak was tender, sweet, and tangy, with a mustard custard (like very light and creamy mustard butter). Our onion rings were closer to onion doughnuts—fluffy, fried dough with fat onion slithers in the middle. 5 onion rings sat on the plate, though I could only eat 2.

Jim’s soft-shell crab tasted great, though I am still unaccustomed to eating anything with a shell on it. The creamy, citrusy sauce that went with his crab was a perfect accompaniment. My overall entree favorite, though, was probably Rob’s lobster tails. I mean, seriously, they were good.

Dessert shined that night—my favorite part of the meal. We had chocolate birthday cake, a brownie “sundae” with almond ice cream and black cherry syrup, a mint chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream, and a dessert that involved raspberry ice cream, peanut butter ganache, chocolate, banana, and pineapple, and reminded me of fancy PB&J.

One glitch, however, was the thyme and lemon ice cream. The citrus pierced my tongue and the creamy thyme flavor, which dominated the ice cream (it wasn’t vanilla with a hint of thyme) made me want to throw up (just a little bit) in my mouth. We kept telling ourselves that it had to be an acquired taste, that someone out there probably loves it, but on further thinking, I don’t think so. Maybe it was a shock value thing, but I can not believe that anyone could actually enjoy that ice cream. Luckily, the cake that went with it was phenomenal. Rich and creamy, but still light and fluffy (not spongy) we joked that the cake tasted like chocolate clouds, delicious chocolate clouds.

Another plus of Gotham Bar & Grill is the generous drinks they pour. The single scotch was more like a triple, and the shot of amaretto I had with dessert almost filled the drinking glass. We left very pleased, and quite buzzed.

Continue reading “Bronx Zoo & Gotham Bar and Grill”

Ota-Ya Sushi

Ota-Ya

Before I begin, here’s my disclaimer: I love sushi, but my tastes are unrefined. I enjoy fancy sushi, clean pieces of fresh-tasting fish with no adornments save a bed of rice, yet I’ll admit it’s not my favorite. I’m obsessed with the gaudy, over-indulging, fat sushi rolls, with names like “Incredible” and “Godzilla.” These mounds of spicy tuna, tempura flakes, fried eel, avocado and caviar are so insanely good that when I get the craving I need to run out to the nearest sushi joint and gorge myself.

My nearest sushi joint is Ota-Ya. (Really not so near at all–40 minute drive!) Housed in Lambertville, New Jersey, I’m pretty sure they have another in NYC. The place is chintzy-charming, with cute Asian decor and fat orange fish swimming (and counting their blessings) in a large tank behind the sushi chef.

The sushi at Ota-Ya is consistently good. My favorite, the Valentine Roll, has mounds of spicy tuna and red caviar on top. I love popping the fish eggs between my teeth, releasing the slippery-salty Omega-3 oils inside, despite how gross that sounds.

We tried a new roll last night, the Sushi Spring Roll. Each piece had a different topping: mango, eel, or avocado. The mango topping was my favorite–inside the roll was a hint of sweetness, and the fruit complimented this well.

We had to take a bite before the pictures!

Tonight, I’m cooking for our friend Alex, who celebrated a birthday this week. He’s a vegetarian, and I always have fun researching and creating vegetarian dishes with him. I think we’ll try a creamy pasta primavera tonight–I’ll make sure to post the outcome!

Union Square Cafe

Jim’s book, Leaving Dirty Jersey, came out last Tuesday and it was a hell of a week. On Wednesday I got off of work and ran to sit in the studio for his public access TV show, where thankfully he didn’t faint (although he looked about to). On Thursday he had a reading and book signing in Princeton and on Friday he had another reading and signing in Greenwich Village. To top it off, the past week has been one of bad allergies and asthma for me (my sister said something about the 1-12 allergy index being at an 11.9 this week). However, on our hectic Friday, amidst all the giddiness from a Lexus picking us up for the city, the nervousness for his reading, and my inhaler puffs, Jim and I did manage to sneak in a dinner at Union Square Cafe (thank you Mr. and Mrs. Salant).

Photo taken from www.unionsquarecafe.com

Union Square Cafe

21 East 16th Street

New York, NY 10003

212-243-4020

Danny Meyer opened the Union Square Cafe in 1985. Since then, he has opened an eclectic string of eateries, from swanky Gramercy Tavern to everyone’s favorite NYC burger joint, the Shake Shack.

Meyer is not dogmatic about fine dining. Some New York City cafes pride themselves on casual atmosphere with fine food, yet feel as stuffy as their big brother counterparts (I’m thinking of Cafe Boulud touting itself as the comfortable alternative to big brother Daniel). At Union Square Cafe, however, the atmosphere is easily, unpretentiously, casual, and the food is certainly fine. When I learned about Meyer owning the Shake Shack after our meal at USC, it then seemed obvious.

Though I’ve never been to cafe in France, Union Square Cafe played on my American fantasy of what it would be like. The tables are lined with white linen and placed far enough apart to be comfortably loud and giggly over dinner. The decor includes fresh flowers, big sunny windows, and wicker. The waitstaff wear striped shirts and are boisterously friendly (one waiter called Jim and I “the kids”, receiving great laughs from his parents).

The table appetizer was fried calamari with anchovy mayonnaise. Considering that I was eating with three health conscious people and the entire thing was scarfed down in no time, I’ll say it was damned good calamari. The batter was perfectly fried yet not greasy. The squid had none of the dreaded rubberiness. Anchovy mayonnaise instead of marinara sauce was a happy alternative. You only needed a dab of the stuff for a mouth full of salty sea-scented bliss.

Jim’s first dish was veal cheek ravioli. Delicious, but I prefer Babbo’s beef cheek ravioli with less sauce and (maybe) more cheek flavor.

His second dish, the special of Red Snapper, was by far the best fish dish I have ever tasted. It had the full-bodied consistency of a meat dish with the crisp lightness of seafood. How is that possible? I haven’t quite figured it out, but it had something to do with the mashed potato hidden underneath the fish, creating the illusion of weightier bites. Unbelievably good. Please, go to this restaurant, and call ahead to make sure the snapper is on special.

Our desserts, a Tiramisu and a “Chocolate Croquant with Salted Caramel Mousse and Devil’s Food Cake” were delightful. The rum soaked ladyfingers of the Tiramisu were sweet, moist, mouthwatering. I should have read the menu however, when ordering the chocolate croquant. Salted? Yes, salted. Big crystals of sea salt throughout the tower of devil’s food cake and caramel brittle. I’m guessing it’s an acquired taste.

I highly recommend the Union Square Cafe to anyone who has something to celebrate but doesn’t want to sit through the stuffiness of most fine dining establishments. Go sit at this cafe, have a drink, a few belly laughs, and order the snapper.

A Weekend (and a Monday) of Good Food.

Friday night began with some great food when Jim and I had dinner at Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville, NJ. I’ve eaten there a few times and have always been happy with my meals. The website and awarding reviews (which hang framed amid contemporary art on the walls) credit Hamilton’s for its Mediterranean food, though other than the abundance of olives in some dishes, the place and food is not obviously Mediterranean. You can watch your dinner grilled from the bar, and one of the grill guys even looks like John Malkovich, so I think the place is pretty cool

Our first course was juicy cantaloupe, ripe and sweet, with prosciutto. You had to wrap the prosciutto around the cantaloupe yourself, so it was kind of messy. There wasn’t quite enough meat for the big slice of cantaloupe, but it was very tasty.

For the main course, I had one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted and Jim had a very tender rack of lamb. The crab cake contained chunks of meaty avocado and was accompanied by a creamy green sauce. I didn’t even have time to take a picture before the whole thing was demolished. The restaurant is BYO, and I brought my favorite, Unibroue beer, which led to some drunken philosophizing across the river in New Hope, PA and some very junk-foodie nachos at 1 AM.

Saturday night‘s late-night dinner was at DB Bistro Moderne, Daniel Boulud’s cafe near Broadway. We ate at 10pm, after going to see Vanessa Redgrave in The Year of Magical Thinking (a one-woman 90 minute show in which she was AMAZING), though we wouldn’t have gotten an earlier reservation for a Saturday night if we had tried. The stand-out dishes of the night were the pizza-like appetizer of Fromage Blanc, Bacon, Onions, (I don’t have a picture of this one, but it was pretty unimpressive looking compared to its awe-inspiring taste) my crab salad and Jim’s DB Bistro’s famous burger.

My crab salad (it seems crab was a favorite of mine this weekend) was a wonderful and light mixture of crab, sprouts, tomatoes and grainy mustard. The mustard sauce that accompanied was delicious and tangy, and different than the usual crab sauce. The dish went so perfectly with my “bitter frenchie” cocktail (cranberry, lime and grapefruit juices) that I could hardly believe it. The cocktail is simply meant to be with that dish.

Jim announce his burger as “The Best Burger I have ever eaten.” It sure was a sight to behold. Sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, with foie gras and black truffle on top, it was almost too much for me but perfect for Jim’s taste. The parmesan bun was crisp and cheesy and strong mustard flavors cut through the richness. Served with crunchy fried and a side of ketchup, mustard and mayo in almost laughably decorative dishes, the meal was fantastic.

Sunday at my parent’s house consisted of me and my mom wolfing down an entire 12-serving package of Trader Joe’s 3 layer hummus and sesame chips, and then a delectable dinner my dad made of pork tenderloin with a green chili marinade and green beans and salad. Sadly, no pictures, but it was delicious!

Last night, I decided to try my hand at stir fry. My stomach had been in knots all day (stress at work, allergies, etc.) and, for some reason, the only food that called out to me was stir-fry. I went over to Whole Foods and bought some snow peas, a head of bok choy, bean sprouts, mushrooms, wide rice noodles, cilantro and green onions. We had a fresh filet mignon from the local butcher in the fridge, along with some chicken thighs, so I sliced them up for the wok. What came out was a very nice and simple stir-fry. All of the greens helped my stomach, and it was light enough to feel like health food. I think it will become a week-night staple–despite all the chopping, there’s something sublimely simple about creating a whole dinner out of one pot.

Filet Mignon Stir-Fry

  • 1 lb chicken thighs, sliced
  • 1 medium sized filet mignon, in thick slices
  • 1 head of bok choy, shredded
  • 1 small vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 oz. wild mushroom mix, sliced
  • 1 loose cup of snap peas
  • 5 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 3 tbsp. chopped green onion
  • 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. corn oil
  • 4 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 pound wide rice noodles (ho fun)
  1. Mix chicken and steak in medium bowl with 2 tbsp. oyster sauce and 1 tsbp. sesame oil. Let sit while you get other ingredients chopped and prepped.
  2. Coat wok with oil over med-high heat. Add in meat and cook a few minutes, until chicken is almost (not completely) opaque. Put meat back into bowl.
  3. Add remaining oil and put mushrooms and vidalia onion in the wok. Heat until onions are translucent and mushrooms have wilted. Add in snow peas and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
  4. Add in bok choy and cook until wilted. Next add bean sprouts and remaining oyster sauce and sesame oil (more if preferred).
  5. Add about 1/2 cup of water to mixture and add in rice noodles. Cook a few minutes and then add the meat back in. Cover and let cook until noodles are tender.
  6. Serve topped with cilantro and chopped onion.