“How come you don’t blog as often as you used to?” my friends ask.
“Mis en place.” I reply. “It’s always about the mis en place.”
Whether you are organizing the ingredients for tonight’s dinner or lining up the to-do’s for the upcoming day, it is good to have a nice mis en place at the ready. According to ‘The Food Lover’s Companion’, mis en place is “a French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking. If you watch ‘Food Network’ on any sort of regular basis, you will see the TV chefs dumping ingredients together from tiny little bowls – their nice food stylists have done all the mis en place ahead of time.
This is also how I like to start an ideal blogging day, with all of the things I would like to accomplish neatly arranged on a list…
1. Prep ingredients
2. Shoot pictures of ingredients
3. Cook recipe
4. Shoot pictures of finished beauty dish
5. Upload and edit all of the pictures
6. Write a blog posting
7. Submit a blog posting.
Sounds simple enough. It may only be seven things, but accomplishing those seven things (especially during summer vacation) is a nearly impossible task at my house. More likely, my day will go something like this.
1. Get awakened with five-year-old and his five stuffed animal friends piling into my bed.
2. Try to finish a cup of coffee before it gets cold while reading the paper and playing with assorted construction equipment on make-shift construction site…typically, my lap.
3. Play soccer in the hall.
4. Get dressed in time for lunch.
5. Picnic lunch outside while setting up new construction site in the sandbox.
6. Play, play, play all afternoon, with a ‘Paw Patrol’ or ‘Team Umizoomi’ respite around 3:00
7. Bath, dinner and bed…no natural light (or time) left for blogging today.
I’ll get it done eventually…
When it comes to making a stir-fry or fried rice it is absolutely essential to have all of your ingredients at the ready, for the process goes rather quickly once the first ingredient hits the hot oil. And the dish can go awry if you have to take time out while cooking to search out those missing scallions from the veggie drawer in the fridge. By the time they are located, the rest of the dish is likely to be overcooked…or even burned to a crisp.
I like this springtime version of a classic Chinese fried rice, which brings pops of color (as well as flavor) to an otherwise bland dish thanks to the addition of bright green peas, cilantro and green onions, as well as cubes of golden pineapple. Switch it up if you like, using chicken or beef in place of the shrimp, and pork tenderloin or hard Spanish chorizo in place of the Chinese sausage.
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 small Chinese sausages, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)
- ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
- 1 medium sweet onion, such as Maui or Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 hot red chile, seeded and minced
- 4 cups cold cooked jasmine rice or other long-grain white rice
- 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
- ½ cup thinly sliced snow peas
- Fresh bean sprouts and lime wedges, for serving
- Toasted cashews, for serving
- In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, fish sauce, chile sauce and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add sausages and shrimp and cook, flipping once or twice, until the shrimp are pink and opaque, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
- Heat remaining tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and chile and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 seconds. Stir in rice and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in soy mixture, shrimp and sausage until combined. Stir in pineapple, cilantro, scallions and snow peas. Serve, garnished with bean sprouts, lime, cilantro and cashews.