18 Feb 2012

shichahn: (Default)
So, this summer I will be going that extra step in cooking from scratch by growing my own herbs and spices (and a veggie or two). The reason being that I live in Arkansas and the things I like are totally unobtainable in grocery stores (okay, with a few exceptions). Thankfully, Amazon gift cards can go a long way when obtaining some seeds!

I'm trying not to go overboard, mostly because I will be in and out a lot this summer and won't necessarily have the time to tend to a garden daily, and because I live in a tiny apartment with no space to grow things (not even a lovely porch like Dar and Angela had in Portland). But I'm making do! My garden for this year:

Garlic (planted one sprout today!) I have two more cloves I'm trying to sprout, hopefully they do so. My plan for these is really just for the chives. I'll replant a clove or two this coming fall to try and get a whole head of garlic for the following year.

Thai basil (seeds in the mail)

Tabasco chile (seeds in the mail) - I really wanted to grow Thai bird's eye chiles, but the seeds on Amazon didn't look very reliable. The Tabasco chile seeds, on the other hand, seem to have been very successful for almost everyone, and honestly there isn't much difference as they are both little 1-2" green to red chiles that are plenty hot.

Bok choy (seeds in the mail) - these look ridiculously easy to grow. Most cabbages are. I'm getting about 250 seeds, and I'm going to plant a bunch and harvest them as they grow. I really like the young plants more than fully-grown ones anyway.

Lemongrass - I'm hoping I can find some of this in Memphis next week. I want to grow it from cuttings rather than starting from seed, just to save some time.

Kangkong - This one I'm not as sure about. Growing it would be a non-issue as it's a crazy weed that grows like 4" a day, so you can harvest it endlessly and never run out, and it grows just fine in a mix of potting soil and lots of water, so I don't really have to worry about watering it. The trouble is going to be finding some cuttings. I hope Memphis doesn't let me down, but if it does, I am going to be super sad as this is one of my favorite vegetables ever.

I have been doing some excellent cooking lately, I have to say. My favorite recent dish was last night's kadun pika on red rice, stuffed in a roasted poblano. Kadun pika is a Chamorro dish adapted from chicken adobo, so it has all of the delicious sweet and sour flavors from the original Filipino dish, combined with the Chamorro love for all things spicy. Making it is very simple. I didn't measure anything, but for those of you who wish for measurements, the following is my best guess for a single serving of the stuff.

1 Chicken breast, or 2 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 c dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar, if you're lucky enough to find it)
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 green onion, diced, separate dark green from light green/white parts
2 red bird's eye chiles (or similar Asian chile)
1 tsp sambal oelek
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 tbsp corn starch
sesame oil

Combine all of the above ingredients, minus the corn starch, sesame oil, and dark green onion. Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes, though a couple hours in the fridge is even better. Heat some cooking oil in a pan and pour in the chicken and marinade, and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked. Combine corn starch with a little bit of cold water in a separate measuring cup, mix into a paste, then pour into the cooking chicken and stir until the sauce becomes thicker. Then turn off the heat, add the rest of the green onion, and drizzle sesame oil on top. Serve on top of some cooked rice. Enjoy the ensuing foodgasm.

Like I said, the measurements here are pretty approximate. Key to a good kadun pika is lots of chile, so feel free to adjust that as needed. The above directions make something I consider the equivalent of medium hot in most restaurants. Remove the chiles and sambal entirely and it becomes more like a gingery adobo, which is perfectly fine too.


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