Monday, June 21, 2010

It's only knife work, or, Phake Pho

I started out the evening by making Francis Lam's ginger-scallion sauce, even though I don't have a food processor. (I haven't bought one yet because the good quality models are ludicrously expensive in Israel.) I told a friend I was going to try making the sauce and she suggested I buy one of those mini-food-processoids, basically a glorified POS stick blender with attachments. But it only took about 10 minutes of knife work to reduce the ginger and scallions to the prescribed consistency.

There's certainly nothing wrong with using a labor-saving device. I don't have a food processor now but I used to. Actually, I used to have two. And a stick blender. And I still have an orbital mixer, a coffee grinder (plus another one for spices), and for that matter an automatic drip coffeemaker. Technology is a wonderful thing. I like wearing ready-made clothing and pooping indoors.

But if you have the time and if you enjoy it, there's something to be said for the sensual pleasure that comes from doing your food prep "by hand". I enjoy the rhythm of the knife rocking back and forth, the tension in my biceps and across my shoulders as I control the blade, the fresh aroma of the ginger rising up.

Francis Lam, by the way, is one of the few remaining interesting voices on If I detailed all the ways that that publication no longer satisfies me I would stray into a subject area that I promised myself I wouldn't allow on this blog, so I'll just leave it at that.

Now that I have some yummy yummy ginger scallion sauce, what to do with it...?

1/2 cup white rice (dry)
2 T miso
some kind of meat-substitute snausage
a medium onion
half a red bell pepper
a stalk of celery
oil for pan-frying
pizza pepper
soy sauce

Cook the rice. Dissolve the miso in 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Slice the snausage into long, thin strips (almost bacon-like) and pan-fry it in more oil than you would normally use until it is very crisp. The more crisp, the better it will taste. Drain and set aside.

Slice the onion, celery, and bell pepper into thin strips and saute with a pinch of salt; finish with a dash of soy.

Put a scoop of rice in a deep bowl, then some of the vegetables and strips of snausage on top. Ladle the miso over and season generously with ginger-scallion oil. Eat with chopsticks and a big spoon, like pho. In fact, you could dress it with a squeeze of lemon, some fresh basil, and some rooster sauce if you wanted. I don't have any basil or rooster sauce tonight, but it was still pretty yummy.

Serves 2.

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