Cooking With Foxfur: Sweet & Sour Blue Chicken


Today I’m going to be showing y’all how to whip up a Snooseville variant of sweet and sour chicken. I was going to call it “What The Fuck Chicken” but that could easily refer to nearly any of my chicken recipes including my famous chicken fried Spam… This recipe came to me last night as I was searching for a duplicate of authentic Americanized Chinese restaurant sweet & sour sauce. I’ve made many different types of sweet and sour sauce but, being the simpleton that I am, I loves me some of that clear and simple sauce. I stumbled upon the easiest sauce you could ever hope for and one that you can make from what you have on hand. All it takes is water, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and red food dye. After mulling it over for a while, I rejected the idea of red, too conformist, and thought of green or blue as a way of sticking it to the man. Seeing as how I was fresh out of green, I decided on blue. Feel free to substitute green, yellow, or black. Anything but red. Red is far too unoriginal for us, right? Right! So, without further adieu (which I have plenty of), here goes nothing.

Sweet & Sour Blue Chicken

1 32 ounce bag of General Tso’s chicken or battered chicken

1 large onion

2 Sexy carrots

2 Bell peppers

2 Teaspoons minced ginger

1 Teaspoon minced garlic

Sauce:

1 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

¾ Cup white vinegar

3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 3 Tablespoons of water

Peel the onion and cut into wedges. Peel the carrots and cut diagonally in thin slices. Seed peppers and cut into ½ x ¾ inch pieces. OR, get fancy and use a really small star shaped cookie cutter. I’m not joking. People love stuff like this. You can get a job cooking at the White House with this trick.

Mince ginger and garlic and place in a little dish.

Combine water, sugar, and vinegar and stir until dissolved. Look at these fucking peppers!

I’m using a West Bend electric wok so I’ll be referring to my cooking vessel as a wok. You can use a wok, frying pan, maybe even a hubcap or gold pan. Whatever. I don’t care. You’re gonna do it no matter what I say.

Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into your heated wok. Dump in ¾ of the ginger and garlic. Stir it around for 5 – 10 seconds. Launch your carrots in and slap them around like my, err, a mouthy boyfriend for 60 – 90 seconds. Next, dump the peppers and onions in and go go go for another 3 minutes or so. Stop when the veggies are as crisp or as mushy as you like. Flip them into a bowl and set aside for now.

Now, get a firm grip on your chicken. I’m using frozen battered chicken because it’s what I have to work with and I’m lazy. If you want to cut up chicken breasts and dredge them in flour, be my guest. You obviously have a large amount of time on your hands so why not knit a sweater while you’re at it, smartass?

My chicken came with a packet of General Tso’s sauce. This sealed packet of communist aggression didn’t give up easily and had to be forced to surrender at gunpoint, pinko bastard! I banished the packet of dissent to the hinterlands of the freezer in a multicultural tryst with a package of frozen burritos. Adios, bitches!

Pour ¼ cup (2 ounces) of oil into your pan. I use peanut oil because it is domestically produced and does not support terrorism (unlike them fancy ass foreign oils…). For a real treat, replace ½ ounce (2 drachms) of the oil with sesame oil. Heat and toss in the remaining ginger and garlic. Dump the chicken in and stir constantly for 15 – 20 minutes. So long as it’s not pink and raw in the center you’re good. I like mine a bit crispy and brown so I’ll go for the full 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a container that DOES NOT contain the veggies. DO NOT let the chicken touch the veggies!

Pour the sauce mixture into the wok. Heat to a low simmering boil and stir until everything is fine and dandy. Now is where the blue (or color X) comes in. I only had ¾ of a tube of blue food coloring gel and used it all. I didn’t end up with nearly the depth of color that I wanted. I was going for something to gross out kindergarteners but ended up with something that Alice Waters would probably be cool with instead. Next time I’ll use liquid food coloring and have shitloads on hand. When in doubt, add more. With a recipe like this, which is totally asinine, go completely nuts and err on the side of recklessness. Who the hell is going to tell you screwed it’s up, huh? Of course it’s screwed up! You’re cooking with Foxfur!

Put on a pair of safety goggles and begin adding the cornstarch / water mixture. Be very careful!!! Many inexperienced cooks have suffered catastrophic facial burns requiring hundreds of hours of reconstructive surgery only to end up looking like Sharpei puppies hesitantly emerging from a food dehydrator. Don’t let this happen to YOU! The sauce will begin to thicken upon stirring the CS water into the sauce. Bear in mind that the sauce is hot and will appear thinner now than it will be when it is cool. If you add enough CS water, you’ll end up with something approximating brick mortar when it cools off. Or toothpaste like mine did. I didn’t care. It fit into my foodhole and stayed down. I win again! You can easily test the cooled thickness of the sauce by spooning a few drops on a cool plate or piece of aluminum foil. Let it cool for a few seconds and lick at it. Undignified? Yes. Most chefs are. Look at me.

Now grab your chicken and plunge it into the sauce. Mix it around in the sauce on low heat for a few minutes so that the sauce can work in and get all flavory like with it. Add in the veggies then fold, spindle, and mutilate. Pour the mess into a serving bowl or plate and prepare to disgust your guests.

Serve it on a bed of rice which may or may not have been dyed to a horribly contrasting color. Saffron rice, yellow, would be a good choice. The blue of the sauce should mix with the rice’s yellow and result in a sick-ass green streaked mess to grace the plate of your “friends” that you’ve invited to “dinner”, wink, wink.

Some final comments:

Cooking is not a science except in the case of cooking meth. You don’t want to fuck up on that. Recipes are mere guidelines. They’re the beginning of an adventure that only you will be going on and that only you can judge the success of. You wouldn’t pack a suitcase with only what a list told you to, would you? If you want to add pineapple to this recipe, fine. If you think your kids would like gummi bears in it, who am I to disagree? That actually sounds pretty awesome and will end up in a future recipe to be featured here. The only recipes where following the ingredient list and cooking methodologies are absolutely critical is when baking cakes and cookies. Nearly everything else is fungible. Get creative and use your imagination. The best recipes are the ones you’ll never find in a cookbook. They’re the ones passed around on 3×5’s by little old ladies in the back row of bingo parlors.

It’s just like life: Nothing exciting ever comes from following all of the rules all of the time.

Update: The General Tso sauce kicks ass on my Spam and Corn Fritters

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Cooking With Foxfur: Stir-Fry


Cooking! Foxfur loves it. Nothing is more satisfying to me than taking a bunch of cool parts and building something functional and beautiful from them. Of the many neat things I build, only cooking gives me the opportunity to eat what I have made. Sometimes I can combine my creations with food for tasty results. See my post on cooking Spam with a flamethrower for a tasty example ( https://foxfuramused.com/2011/09/25/flamethrower-spam-at-burning-man-2011 ).

Today I will remove the mystery of my favorite method of cooking: the stir-fry.

Stir-fry combines three main ingredients: Vegetables, meat (or alternate protein source), and a sauce. Some folks may prefer to omit the protein and sauce. Why? I have no idea. Do whatever you like but for the very best result include the sauce.

Stir-fry theory is relatively simple. Cook the vegetables, remove from wok or pan. Cook the meat, add the sauce, and throw the veggies back in. Eat.

First the vegetables are cooked. A bit of oil is heated, perhaps a teaspoon or so, garlic and / or ginger added to the oil and stirred for 5 – 10 seconds and then the vegetables are added. These are tossed around and constantly turned in order to avoid burning. Vegetables that require a longer cooking time are added first and cooked for a little bit before the more tender ones are added. Carrots, broccoli, etc. are added first. I usually cook the broccoli separately. When the veggies have been cooked for a few minutes, add a few tablespoons of water and cover. This allows them to steam a bit. I typically allow 60 – 90 seconds of steaming depending on the texture I like. If you want uber crisp veggies, omit the steaming.

Next, cook the meat or protein. Again, add the oil, a teaspoon to a tablespoon depending on the amount of meat you’re cooking. Then the garlic / ginger. Add the meat. Cook the piss out of poultry, pig, or seafood. Trust me, you don’t even want to mess around with medium rare pork. Beef is negotiable. If you wish, cook it 2/3 to 3/4 done, it will continue cooking once the sauce has been added and heated.

Then the sauce. Some like to add the sauce directly to the cooked meat. I like to remove the meat and do the sauce separately. I like to use a mix of broth and soy sauce or other liquids. A good all-purpose sauce: 1 cup broth (chicken, beef, ham, giraffe, vegetable, etc.), 2-4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2-3 tablespoons of mirin or wine of your choice, sugar or fruit juice for a sweet sauce, vinegar for a tart sauce, fish sauce for a hearty sauce, Tabasco for a peppy sauce. Really, add anything. You can’t ruin a sauce. I guess you can if you throw in some really crappy stuff like angostura bitters or Liquid Plumr or the like. Taste the sauce and add junk as desired. If it’s awful, feed it to the sink and start over. I’ve added some bizarre stuff to mine: A1 sauce, Worcestershire, Heinz 57, orange marmalade, maple syrup, grenadine, whiskey, root beer, Pepsi, and Mad Dog 20/20. Get creative! Add the sauce to the wok or pan and heat thoroughly especially if adding reserved marinade (which I highly recommend!). If you like a thick sauce, add cornstarch dissolved in a small amount of water, stir the CS water in and stir the sauce until it’s thickened and cook for 30-60 seconds to cook the taste of starch out of it.

Finally, add the veggies (and meat if you did the sauce alone in the wok) and toss to coat. Depending on the texture, I’ll cook it a bit more to infuse the saucy goodness into the tasty bits.

Serve with rice or noodles and shovel it into your food hole.

Here’s an easy example that I make at least twice a week.

Foxfur’s Furry Tofu (contains no fur)

1lb firm or extra firm tofu dismembered into 1/2inch cubes
1 large onion hacked into wedges
1 large bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, green, or polka dotted) diced into 1/2 to 3/4inch squares or trapezoids
A couple handfuls of sliced mushrooms (white, brown, magic, whatever)
1Tbsp finely chopped ginger
1Tbsp chopped garlic
Oil (peanut, olive, vegetable, palm, motor)

Marinade:
1/4C Soy sauce
1TBSP sugar
2-3 glugs of sweet chili sauce (optional)
Other crap you like (to taste)

Sauce:
1C broth
3TBSP Soy sauce
3TBSP wine (I prefer mirin)
2Tbsp sugar

Mix the marinade ingredients well. Drop the tofu cubes into a bowl and drown with the marinade. I like to let it sit on the counter for an hour or so.

Mix the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

Add a teaspoon of oil to the wok or pan. Get that stuff hot but not smoking hot. The only smoking hot thing here is you, dear reader, mreow! Dump in the ginger and garlic and agitate it with a stick until it’s not quite done, perhaps 7.42 seconds. You want to kidnap the flavors into the oil not deep fry the stuff. Launch the onions and peppers into the wok. Keep ’em moving, do not burn! Cook for 2 minutes and then toss the mushrooms in. Slap the stuff around for another minute or two. Add a couple tablespoons of water into the bottom of the wok and cover. Drop and give me 25 pushups. Faster! Get up, remove the cover, evacuate the veggies to a dish or other suitable detention vessel.

Drain the marinade from the tofu into something that will hold it and set that aside.

Add a bit more oil, heat, do the garlic-ginger thing and dump the tofu in. Don’t worry if there’s marinade left in the ‘fu. It will get cooked into the cubes and be oh so tastay! Stir the fu every 10-15 seconds. Ideally you want the fu to be browned on all sides but chances are you’ll never be able to do it. I can’t. Whatever. It’ll be cooked. Keep going until you achieve the nirvanaesque state of light to dark
browning, your choice. I like mine a bit on the dark and kinda dry side of the spectrum. Transfer to the container with the vegetables to reflect on their impending doom.

Add the sauce and marinade to the wok and heat until it achieves a slight boil. Taste it and add stuff you like to taste. If it’s too salty add some water. At this point you’ll thicken it up. We do this by dissolving 2Tbsp of cornstarch in 2Tbsp of COLD water. pour half of this into the simmering sauce. Stir quickly to incorporate completely. Still too thin? Add the rest of the starch water. Still too thin? make and add more. Too thick? Add some water. Simmer for a minute or so.

Finally. add the veggies and fu to the sauce. Stir everything until coated with sauce. Continue heating and stirring if you want to. If you don’t want to, you’re lazy and need a personal chef.

Serve your splendid creation with rice or alone. Drizzle with sesame oil and shake some sesame seeds over it for a real treat.

I recommend washing containers and utensils as you go so as not to be overwhelmed with a stack of crap. Done right, you will be able to gorge and pass out where you sit. On coming to you will be greeted with a clean sink and should immediately have seconds.

Stir-fry is not complicated, it just looks like it when I write the recipe. You know me and words…