Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Shawn Marie Treatment

It’s true. I confess it here: I can’t make a stir-fry to save my life. I have tried multiple times, but my stir-fries always end up either burnt or undercooked. I continually disappoint myself. There are probably solutions to my stir-fry woes, such as using a proper wok, more oil, prepping ALL the ingredients BEFORE applying the heat, and using more heat. I’ve shelved those possibilties for the time being, however, because truth be told, I’d rather steam than fry.

Why steam? Compared to stir-frying, steaming is just so easy. Chop a few vegetables, plop the steamer basket in a pot, add the vegetables and some water, cover, and heat. A few minutes later (and with no attention in the meantime from me!), voila! Lightly steamed vegetables, just enough to take off that raw edge. While stir-frying scares me, steaming soothes me. And it doesn’t leave me with bitter, burnt garlic.

With some steamed vegetables, it’s possible to make a decent imitation stir-fry, especially if you give those vegetables what I like to call The Shawn Marie Treatment. Shawn Marie, or SM for short, is my dear friend, a brilliant cook, and highly, highly opinionated when it comes to food. And everything else, for that matter. The Shawn Marie Treatment is simple: equal parts soy sauce, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil shaken together and drizzled over anything that needs some love. This Asian-style splash is very flavorful and terrific in lots of places; SM uses it to make the best spinach dish I’ve ever had in my life. (Note to self: Ask SM to make that spinach dish at next potluck.) Here, I use the Splash to dress up some everyday ingredients: brown rice, steamed vegetables, and scrambled eggs. I know it sounds humble, but it’s a meal worth anticipating once you’ve tried it. It’s good enough to motivate me to make my brown rice and Asian Splash ahead of time so that when I come home from work, all I have to do is steam some veggies, scramble a few eggs, and toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Brilliant.

Vegetable and Brown Rice Medley with Scrambled Eggs

For Shawn Marie’s Asian Splash (makes 6 tbsp. or 3/8 cup):
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1) Add all ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close the lid and shake like mad to mix the ingredients into an emulsion. Shake again before using.

For the main dish:
~1 c. raw broccoli florets
1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into chunky matchsticks
2 eggs
~1 c. cooked short-grain brown rice (I like Lundberg brand)
Several spoonfuls of Shawn Marie’s Asian Splash (shake before using), or to taste (recipe is above)

1) Steam the carrot and broccoli by layering the carrots and then the broccoli into one steamer basket in a pot. Add water (make sure the level of water is a little below the steamer basket so you aren’t boiling your vegetables instead of steaming them), cover the pot, and place over high heat. Steam for several minutes or until vegetables are tender crisp (in other words, tender but not limp and preferably with a little crunch to them still).
2) While the vegetables are steaming, scramble your eggs the way you like.
3) When the vegetables and eggs are done cooking, place them together in a big eating bowl. Add the brown rice (warmed up on the stovetop or in the microwave, if you like), a few spoonfuls of Shawn Marie’s Asian Splash, and toss to distribute. Taste and add more Splash if you want. Eat.

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