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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taking Stock

My pantry is exploding.  Literally. Even though we rarely need anything, Michael and I do our weekly grocery run and buy more stuff. Granted, we all have to have stuff, things like paper towels, cat food, coffee, shaving cream, fresh parsley, and heavy cream. But, who really needs 4 varieties of rice and  flour? Today I bought a pomegranate.  One pomegranate.  What the hell am I going to do with a single pomegranate? I saw it and had to have it. Period. Sometimes, I feel like a food hoarder. Not like those television Hoarders.  I don't wade knee-deep through empty plastic diet Pepsi bottles on the way to bed with 300 cats nipping at my heels along the way. 

I just don't like to waste anything or throw anything away if it still has purpose.

Maybe I should have a kitchen yard sale, charging $1.00  for admission and paper tote bags to be filled on whim.
Right now my grain cabinet is buldging with West African attieke, Israeli couscous, yellow rice, arborio rice, valencian rice, polenta, grits, dried egg noodles, angel hair pasta, linguini, rice noodles, dried red beans, split peas, pinto beans, and black beans.

The flour bin appears to be an homage to Weisenberger Mills, bursting with whole wheat flour, rye flour, and bolted white corn meal sitting  alongside semolina flour, cake flour (I don't even bake), and bread flour. In the same bin tucked behind the flours are the sugars; light brown, dark brown, palm, cane, raw, cubed,(cubed?), and powdered.

I use everything.  I just don't use all of anything.

Although I typically use kosher salt, I have himalayan, fleur de sel, and hickory smoked salt lined up in case I need them. Telicherry black peppercorns are my go to peppercorns.  They proudly sit side by side with pink, white, green, and red peppercorns, each housed in their own pepper grinders.

I won't even discuss the freezer. Simply put,  finding the ice tray is a challenge.

Last night, I was determined to use something from every department. 

I pulled chicken from the freezer to thaw before slicing it  for a quick chicken teriyaki stir fry.
I diced a green bell pepper, a peeled carrot, and  1/2 onion into uniform sizes and tossed them into a bowl with plucked broccoli florets.

I made a quick teriyaki sauce by simmering good soy sauce with mirin, brown sugar, cornstarch, grated fresh ginger, and garlic until thickened and reduced by half.  Once the sauce had reduced, I set it aside to cool.

I grabbed the final remnants of dried rice noodles from the pantry and poured boiling water over them to soften. While the noodles soaked, I sliced thawed wonton wrappers into little squares, deep fried them, and dropped them onto paper towels to drain.

It was a very quick stir fry.  I carefully slid the sliced chicken into a very hot oiled skillet to cook through before adding the vegetables to saute and caramelize.  After they had taken on some color, I added fresh minced ginger and garlic into the sizzling  skillet for an up-front finish along with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced  pineapple for fresh acidity. After the chicken, vegetables, and aromatics married,  I folded the teriyaki sauce into the mixture to bubble and thicken before tossing it with the softened rice noodles.

I twirled the chicken teriyaki into two large pasta bowls and topped it with julliened snow pea pods.

Scattered  fried wontons and drizzled Sriracha finished it off.

The teriyaki sauce completely bathed the chicken and vegetables with sticky sweetness. The mild aromatic heat from the ginger and garlic balanced the sweetness with spice while the julienned snow peas tamed it with crunchy wet freshness. Fiery Sriacha chile paste upped the heat level, providing great acidity with its vinegar chile burn.  Any residual teriyaki sweetness evaporated with the Sriacha on deck.  Sweet heat. Perfect partners. 

The deep fried wontons were pedestrian, but added extra crunch and texture.
Most importantly, they will no longer languish away in our freezer.

I need to take stock of the pantry more often.

Or, have a yard sale.  

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