Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Homemade Takeout

When I was a student at Cal in the early 1990s, a certain type of eaterie dotted the landscape the way mushrooms appear after a rain. The first one of its type offered food as prosaic as its name: $1 Chinese. College towns like Berkeley have no shortage of cheap food, but $1 Chinese took this concept to a horrific, I-can't-believe-there's-food-worse-than-the-cafeteria level. I suspected that the cooks used a 1:1 ratio of food to grease. The irony was that a dollar's worth of leaden chow mein or fried won tons would cost you $3 in antacids.

John and I traded greasy Chinese food horror stories as we prepared dinner. We didn't get home until 8:00, and a quick meal was in order. Neither of us has an iron stomach anymore, so cartons of greasy Mongolian beef and chow fun would likely result in a sleepless night.

I always keep a stash of potstickers in the freezer for nights like these, but we were down to the last half dozen. As I put the dumplings into a pan with canola and water, I made a note to make more this weekend.

I sliced up a chicken thigh and browned it in a pan with some minced ginger and chopped green onions. When this was cooked, I set it aside and added leftover rice, some diced carrot, and peas. When the vegetables were cooked, I cracked two eggs into the pan and scrambled them. I added the chicken, seasoned it with soy sauce, and the fried rice came together.

I took the last of the green beans from the refrigerator and blanched them quickly. I made my mom's default stir fry sauce with a little sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and water and the beans were soon glazed.

We sat down to our version of $1 Chinese. It cost just a little more, but hardly broke the bank. Or, for that matter, our stomachs.

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