This was another one of those evenings where I was thinking, "What in the world am I going to fix for dinner? I don't know. I'm tired of the same old thing. What can I fix that is different and tastes good?" You have those days, right? Well, I knew we had plenty of things on the shelf we had canned that would be good and that needed to be used, so I came up with this dish. It isn't really Chicken Chow Mien in the strict sense of the description, it's just one of my versions. Which version I fix depends on what I have on hand. Here is this one.
We had chicken and chicken broth that we had canned. Carrots from last summer. There was a can of bamboo shoots, along with some celery and green onions left from the layered salad that need to be eaten. And then there were a few more frozen peas in the freezer. That would make a good meal.
I have a few of those egg noodle things that are used with Chow Mien dishes, but I decided to use a jar of the chicken broth and make rice instead. So I put the chicken broth in the pan, it is about a cup and a half and added a good, long splash of soy sauce. To that I added a cup of rice, and handful of dried onions.....
and some dried, minced garlic.
The burners on our stove will not turn down low enough to fix rice without burning it, so I put a cast iron trivet under the pan. It doesn't totally alleviate the problem, but it does help.
I leave the lid off of the rice until I can't see the broth bubbling up any more, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Then I put the lid on for another 20 minutes. It works great.
I buy soy sauce in a big jug from a warehouse market. We bought a regular sized bottle at the store so we could have the dispenser top. It's easy to refill and much cheaper to buy it in bulk. I keep the big jug on the bottom shelf of the door in the frig. This works well.
While the rice is cooking, I chopped up the celery and onions. By the time the rice was ready for the lid on the pan, I started cooking my vegetables. This is another meal that I use my cast iron wok. It is a wonderful pan for meals like this.
I start off with a few tablespoons of olive oil. When it is good and hot, I add about a tablespoon and a half of dried minced garlic. Into that I add the celery and onions and let them cook for a few minutes until they start to become semi clear.
Then I add the drained bamboo shoots for a minute or two.
Now is the time for the chicken with all of it's liquid. This gives me enough 'juice' to thicken up in a few minutes. I drain the carrots and add them as well.
Add a generous amount of soy sauce along with about two tablespoons of parsley and some pepper to taste. I like pepper. I seldom cook without it. Let this cook for a few minutes until it is bubbly hot.
I add a cornstarch rue for thickening. First, add the cornstarch to a bit of cold water and stir until smooth. This will prevent lumps. This would also work with flour. The two tastes are a little different, but they both work fine.
Don't add this to the pan until you are just about ready to serve the meal because it will thicken up quickly and stick to the pan if you are still in the cooking mode for very long. When you do add the rue, stir constantly to evenly coat your ingredients. It will thicken up quickly and your liquid will 'disappear' into the coating.
Dish it up and enjoy! Be creative with what you have on hand. Grow and preserve what you like to eat. Be frugal, be persistent, be diligent. Be prepared.
Until next time - Fern