Life itself is the proper binge.
~Julia Child

So, the conservative (J)ustices who reverently, or perhaps irreverently, have hailed their Catholic heritage were conspicuously absent for Pope Francis — Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito — should be wearing their usual political cloaks of shame with heads bowed. Please do not tell anyone, dear (J)ustices, that you had other commitments, as you were wholly transparent “no shows” to make an intentional, childish statement.

Are you that politically pugnacious, gentlemen? Will you, as does the House, not branch compromise? Will you value theatrical protest over governance, even as the “judiciary branch?” Will you seriously take a pass on this opportunity to hear words from the leader of your church?

Apparently, this was a “let-them-eat cake obliviousness to the needs of others” moment to quote Justice Scalia. Whatever his old man palaver means.

Even as an agnostic or atheist, you should feel utterly disgraced.

A simple, yet resplendent, meal — thank goodness, we can gracefully slide home.

MISO CHICKEN (TORI MISOYAKI — 味噌チキン)

4 T unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened to room temperature
1/2 C red or white miso
2 T local honey
1 T “plain” rice vinegar (hon mirin)
1 T sake
2 t sesame oil
2 t ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 t garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

8 skin on, bone in chicken thighs

Peanuts or walnuts, chopped
Cilantro leaves

Bok Choy (optional?)

Preheat oven to 425 F

Combine butter, miso, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and black pepper in a large glass bowl and mix well.

Add bird to the bowl and carefully massage the miso, et al., blend into it. Marinate in a large ziploc bag for a couple of hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

Place the chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan and genteelly slip (skin side up) into the preheated oven. Roast for about 40 minutes or so, turning the chicken pieces over twice with tongs, until the skin is golden brown and crisp, and when pricked the juices run pale from the thighs. Serve over rice or rice noodles and top with chopped peanuts or walnuts and cilantro with baby bok choy as a side.

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The man who doesn’t like oysters, the woman who cannot abide sardines. We know the type.
~Harold Nicolson

Just a basic indulgent dish.

Savory oyster sauce is traditionally made by condensing this exquisite shellfish’s extracts yielded from its white broth. This translucent to opaque stock, similar to clam juice, is then reduced until the proper viscosity is attained and the sauce has caramelized to a dark sienna hue. Due to cost constraints though, this old school version is rarely made commerically. Rather, oyster sauce in today’s markets is a syrupy dark brown condiment made from an olio of sugar, salt, water, thickened with cornstarch, and flavored with oyster extract. Even weakened some, it does not lack for umami.

BEEF, BROCCOLI, & MUSHROOMS WITH OYSTER SAUCE

12 oz beef sirloin
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T oyster sauce
1/2 T sesame oil
1 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 T honey
1/2 T baking powder

2 T peanut oil
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
2 C broccoli florets
1 t Shaoxing rice wine (or pale dry sherry)
1 T dried chile flakes

3 1/2 oz oyster mushrooms
Dash black rice vinegar, to taste
Dash soy sauce, to taste

On a heavy cutting board, cover the beef in saran wrap and beat with a mallet until half as thin. Slice the beef into 1/2″ slices and place into a bowl. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, honey and baking powder. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat with peanut oil until just smoking and add the garlic and jalapeño chile. Stir fry for a few seconds, then add the beef slices and toss for a few minutes, until just barely cooked. Place into a bowl or onto a large serving plate. Tent and set aside.

Place the wok back onto the heat and add the remaining oil, then add the broccoli and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked to your liking, about 3 minutes. Pour in the Shaoxing rice wine and sprinkle over the dried chilli flakes.

Add the oyster mushrooms, season with black rice vinegar and soy sauce and then stir fry until just cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Add the beef back to the wok and heat.

Serve over rice.

Sesame Noodles

November 13, 2009

Simsim! (Open Sesame!)
~Ali Baba, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights

A sprightly small app, a light side, or midnight fare—even savored as the sun is rising. Then, they could be bowls of noodles delicately chopsticked while seated lotus style amongst warm sheets with skin bathed in afterglows…or at least one disappointing dish which should leave sooner rather than later and be shortly forgotten. So much depends on company and chemistry.

Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant native to sub-Saharan Africa which is cultivated for its multicolored, oleaginous seeds which grow in pods. The pods eagerly burst open when they reach maturity. Sesame seeds have been revered for centuries and their uses in the kitchen are legion, almost lacking in regional and cultural boundaries.

While the prep is simple and open to rendition, there are layered flavors of thin egg noodles in a piquancy of peanuts, biracial sesames, vinegar and chiles. You can toss in ways as suit your passion(s) and palate(s).

COLD SESAME NOODLES

1 lb thin rice noodles (vermicelli shaped)
6 T sesame oil

1/4 C peanut oil
8 green onions, discarding greens, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 plump and fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 t sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 t dried red chile pepper flakes
1 T honey
1 T light brown sugar
3/4 C creamy peanut butter
4 T rice wine vinegar
6 T soy sauce
1/4 C chicken stock, already heated

1 T white sesame seeds, toasted
1 T black sesame seads, toasted
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchstick juillenne
Fresh cilantro leaves, stemmed and coarsely chopped

Cook the noodles in a large, heavy pot of boiling unsalted water until barely tender and still firm. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water until cool to halt the cooking process. Drain the noodles again and transfer to a wide bowl. Toss with the sesame oil, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil over medium low. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Cook and stir for a minute until soft and fragrant. Whisk in the chile flakes, honey, brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and stock until the sugar is dissolved and the peanut butter has smoothed out. Toss the noodles with the peanut sauce and sesame seeds until well coated. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with the cucumbers and cilantro.