Monday, December 17, 2007

Seasoned Eatings from Nashville

In the past 48 hours, I have had a dead battery in my usually reliable little car; a visit from AAA to jump start it; a highway robbery at the BMW dealer where they sold me a new battery for $400 (yes, folks, 4 C-notes and no other battery will fit into my model of car); had my marriage license called a "toy" when I tried to include My Beloved in my retirement pension plan; stood in three lines at the San Francisco City Hall over my lunch hour to get official proof of my eight year marriage (at least it's a beautiful building and MB declared he'd marry me again if they couldn't find it); paid 13 clams for said certificate, which took 30 seconds to find and print out after 20 minutes of time in queue; received a $400 electric bill from PG&E (our normal bill is about $30 per month); spent untold time on the phone with PG&E operators explaining that the bill was impossible since we have in the past year upgraded all our doors and windows to low-E glass, bought a new energy efficient fridge and emptied and turned off our hot tub because we're so effing "green"; spent a freezing hour under the deck where the trolls live trying to calibrate the blankety-blank electric meter; and learned that my husband's dear mother is headed for a lengthy hospital stay over Christmas due to the incompetence of a doctor who didn't listen to her symptoms. It's enough to drive a saint crazy and, believe me, I'm no saint!

So, you can imagine my pleasure at sitting down, after a long and frustrating few days, to the homey chicken dish I made from the fermented black beans and Asian style noodles sent to me by my secret pal from Seasoned Eatings, Lannae Long of Lannae's Food and Travel blog. Lannae lives in Nashville, TN and couldn't find a local spice to send so she substituted these exotic (to me) ingredients instead. Lannae explained that this dish is comfort food for her and her family, and the recipe comes down from at least her grandmother. She says this sauce is to Chinese Americans as tomato sauce is to Italian Americans.

I gathered all the ingredients for the recipe and put them all together over the weekend. The dish is lightly salty, slightly spicy from the two kinds of peppers, very flavorful thanks to the garlic, onion, chicken broth and soy sauce, and deeply satisfying at the end of a crazy couple of days!

Happy Holidays, Lannae, and to all of you who are reading about her very thoughtful and delicious gift. And a special thanks to Katie of Thyme for Cooking and Lindsay of Country Girl City Living who hatched the plan for Seasoned Eatings and organized this fun event!

Chinese Black Bean Sauce and Chicken, described by Lannae Long

In a big bowl, do this first and let sit while you make the other parts:

3 lbs chicken with bones, big chunks cut through bones to expose marrow. Marinate chicken in:
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs corn starch
1 egg white
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil

Black beans in a cup
2 heaping Tbs fermented black beans
1/4 cup alcohol (red wine, sherry, rice wine or sake)
after a few minutes, use the back of the spoon to mash the beans on the side of the cup.

Sauce in a bowl
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 T alcohol
2 cups chicken stock
a small squeeze of honey
a shake of hot chili (dried sprinkles or packed in oil)
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil

Corn starch cup
mix corn starch with cool water or stock in a cup

1 large yellow onion, diced into bite-size pieces (1/2-1 inch square)
2 poblanos diced into bite-size pieces
you can substitute one bitter melon (fu-qua melon) for poblanos
garlic, all you like, minced

Noodles (Asian style wheat noodles)


1. Heat a big frying pan or wok.
2. Add oil to coat pan
3. Drain the chicken, and reserve the liquid
4. Brown chicken on all sides
5. Take chicken out, and set aside
6. In the same pan, coat the bottom with oil
7. Add garlic and fermented black bean cup and stir fry to fragrant (30 seconds)
8. Add onions and peppers/bitter melon and stir fry for about 1 minute
9. Add chicken and reserved chicken liquid to the pan and stir fry for about 1 minute
10. Add sauce in bowl and bring to a boil
11.Lower to a simmer and cover until chicken is done (15-20 minutes)
12. Uncover and add cornstarch cup to thicken
13. Boil noodles
14 Serve chicken and fermented black beans over noodles

Note: You can substitute hard tofu (not silken), for setan (Buddha's meat) for meat, nix the egg white, use veggie stock for the stock, and use drops of real maple syrup to make it vegan. If you make it vegan, you don't have to cook it that long, just thicken and enjoy!


Blogger katiez said...

Let me say that again: YIKES!!!!
You really deserve your holiday, where ever it is going to be!
The chicken does indeed look very comforting and sounds delicious. Isn't amazing when after a truly horrid day something wonderful comes together?
And 10 points to MB for saying he'd marry you all over again!

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Peter M said...

Zoomie, great looking fish dish, I love poblanos too.

As for your bureaucratic plight, I feel for you but yes, SF city hall is a masterpiece.

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Dagny said...

That looks so good good. Must find food now.

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Poor Zoomie. What an ordeal. Lucky you have the fortitude to get through it; I'd probably just sit down and cry.
Anyway, Lannae's great. One of my favorite things about blogging has been discovering recipes from other cultures, and having cyberfriends help us learn to cook them.

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

KatieZ, thanks for the sympathy and for the wonderful idea of Seasoned Eatings!

Peter M, fish??? Hmmm?? MB and I have been chuckling over feathered fish.

Dagny, yes, find food fast!

Cookiecrumb, if I thought crying would work, I'd have done it! As it was, I did some screaming over the weekend and even threw some things - it rare for me to be so very aggravated! But, it will all be better tomorrow!

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Dagny said...

In the future, soft things -- like stuffed animals -- are very good for letting go of frustration. You can name them and then throw them at a wall without worrying about doing any damage. You know. If you're inclined to throw things. I find it a lot more satisfying than crying. And you can throw in some screaming if you want.

Monday, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Lannae said...

OMG, what a story! Eesh! Did you get a day off to recoup from that trauma? Uh, I hope the chicken was comforting? Was it good comfort food after that day from hell? I hope you enjoyed your dinner!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Lannae, indeed it was comforting and relaxing to sit down to this delicious dish after that insane day. The bad memories faded quickly under the influence of your grandmother's comfort cooking!

Thursday, December 20, 2007  
Blogger Laurie Constantino said...

That is one terrible day -- I hope you were able to convince PG&E to lower their bill. But so nice to finish it with this dish. I love fermented black beans and haven't had them in way too long. Maybe I'll use your (Lannae's) recipe. It sounds very very tasty!

Saturday, December 22, 2007  
Blogger ostwestwind said...

Poor girl! But food blogging brings so much new recipes, thanks for sharing

Saturday, December 22, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Laurie, I'm still fighting with PG&E but I'm going to ignore it until after the holidays - don't want to spoil the fun!

Ostwestwind, yes, it's great, isn't it? Happy holidays to you and yours!

Saturday, December 22, 2007  

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