I’m not gonna lie, I have a reasonably full refrigerator. I know people out there are struggling,, and no part of this story is intended to be boastful in any way. We all are where we are. I believe I have mentioned before, I’m a TEENY-TINY bit of a hoarder. I’m generally disinclined to finish something I know I like until I have a replacement hidden away in the cupboard. I am trying to change this specific thing, but that’s a more long-term project. It’ll probably take years, TBH. Good things come to those who wait… patience is a virtue, right?
But I digress. Right now at this very moment, I have 3 different stir fry/Asian leftover dishes in my fridge. These are all homemade as well. Hubby and I maybe used to go out more for dinners and whatnot, but during the pandemic, we really buckled down and stuck in out. Now we just have completely different set of habits and weekly routine. We didn’t USED to get a Papa Murphy’s Take’n’Bake pizza every single Tuesday for probably the last year so I could NOT cook at least 2 nights per week, but we do now! It’s amazing how growth happens in times of crisis.
As an aside, some people have considered I’m likely also ADHD, in addition to my autism diagnosis, which would explain why every paragraph of this blog post so far is on a different topic. 🤔
Back to my 3 Asian dishes in my refrigerator. I cooked them, and actually the hubs made one as well. We love Asian flavors, but here’s the thing. None of this was authentic in any way. I am a complete food HACK! We follow the “no-recipe-recipe” for Thai Larb from Bon Appetit https://www.bonappetit.com/columns/cooking-without-recipes/article/chicken-larb-lettuce-wraps Now it tastes amazing, but I’ve adjusted every ingredient to suit our taste so that it would never resemble what you might order in a restaurant. It’s just what we like, with soy sauce and sambal.
This has all got me thinking about authenticity. I would love to say that I have at least been to some kind of Asian cooking class to get some authentic stories about how to honor the ingredients in a particular tradition (food is a HUGE part of culture, you know), but I have not. Not only that, I absolutely positively mix up ingredients from Japan, China, Korea, Thai (LOVE those chilis), and India. Does it all go together? For my palate, sure. But is it the most sensitive thing I could do? Absolutely not.
Nope, I just scoop up a BUNCH of random sauces at Uwajimaya and use them to make a LOT of vegetables taste amazing. It’s not all that hard, folks.
And yet I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Not necessarily wrong in that I’m cooking food to sustain my household, but that I could be doing better at exploring which combinations of spices make sense for a specific Asian culture. I should be taking the time to learn and honor the history of specific dishes, rather than just throwing some meat in a marinade made of some combination soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal, garlic, ginger, green onion, chili flakes, fish sauce, lemongrass, curry paste and sesame oil. I don’t generally cook subtly flavored food. We like flavors that are in your face.
I think I will make a resolution now to find a legit cooking class so that I can learn some more traditional, authentic techniques and processes for some of our favorite dishes. Rather than carrying on with my personalized version of the quick weeknight stir fry dishes served over rice, I think I will try to dedicate the amount of time and intention to my cooking of Asian cuisine, even if I don’t take the time every time. I can do better.