To follow the directions or not to follow the directions

I have a lot of cookbooks and I turn to them often for inspiration.  That doesn’t mean that I always do exactly what they say.  Many years of cooking means that I use them as a jumping off point.  On Friday when I made the bouillabaisse inspired flatbreads for example, I had about 8 different cookbooks out.  I looked at all of them for ideas about what I was going to do.  Similarly I made new dishes both last night and tonight inspired by cookbooks I have.  I varied the instructions a bit, with varying results.

Last night I made a dish based on a recipe in the Thai cookbook, Pok Pok.  Keith made the trek to H Mart a few weeks ago and got the fresh rice noodles that we love in Drunken Noodles.  I knew they had other uses and thought it would be fun to try a different preparation.  I turned to Pok Pok and found a stir fried rice noodle dish with pork.  I took a couple of short cuts with the recipe (the author says you must fix one portion at a time but I combined two and it worked out fine).

Stir fried rice noodles with pork

  • canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (divided use)
  • pork tenderloin sliced thinly agains the grain
  • fish sauce
  • granulated sugar
  • 1 package rice noodles (place in a damp kitchen towel and microwave for 3 minutes and then cut into strips)
  • 2 TB Thai thick soy sauce
  • 1 TB Thai thin soy sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets and then blanched

Heat a wok over medium high heat.  Add about 1 TB of canola oil and heat until almost smoking.  Add garlic and remove from heat.  Stir for 15 seconds and then add pork, 1 tsp fish sauce and 1/2 tsp sugar.  Cook stirring constantly until pork is almost cooked.  Remove pork to a dish and wipe out wok.

Heat wok again over high heat.  Add another TB canola oil and heat until almost smoking.  Add eggs and cook until they start to turn golden brown at edges.  Flip eggs and slide up side of wok.  Add noodles and cook quickly, stirring so they don’t stick together.  After 30 seconds add garlic and stir an then add broccoli and stir.  Add pork and then soy sauces and stir fry so everything combines together.  Serve.

We loved it!  A definite repeat and my adaptations to the recipe didn’t seem to impact it.

Tonight I made a variation on a dinner salad with chicken that I found in a book.  I eliminated some ingredients that we aren’t wild about (beets) and ended up cooking the chicken in the oven instead of grilling it because it was raining.  The chicken is marinated in a mix of Greek yogurt and sriracha.  I didn’t think cooking it in the oven worked too well.  I’ll keep tweaking the recipe and I’ll share it with you when I get it right but tonight wasn’t it.  (Still edible but disappointing.)


About emenuplan
I love to cook and love to eat. I work full time and have a family so managing good meals during the week requires organization. I'm hoping to share my weekly menu plans and recipes to make things a little easier for those who want to follow along.

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