They say that what you cook for yourself and yourself alone is a good indicator of how much you consider your own well-being. While I think there is some truth behind that – after all, if you didn’t care about yourself, you would care little for nourishment even when absolutely required – it’s largely a subjective matter. What one person considers a perfectly adequate meal for one might horrify another solo diner, and these opinions are, for the most part, a matter of taste.
I just finished reading Alone in the Kitchen With Eggplant, a compilation of essays from different writers focusing on the idea of cooking for one, dining out alone, and generally eating by one’s lonesome. Some of the essays took the stance that one should treat themselves to a meal that is on par, if not better, than what they would serve other people, because it’s important to show yourself the same level of consideration and care that you show other people.
That’s all well and good, but I tend to side more with Ann Patchett on the subject. Despite her years of food knowledge and preparation expertise, she is reluctant to put any significant effort into a meal meant only for herself. She writes of subsisting on crackers eaten over the sink, meager yet satisfying meals of odds and ends and non-cooked foods. Despite having the ability to make challenging and delicious cuisine, the last thing she wants to do after the trying experience of cooking that meal is to sit down and eat it. So when it came to feeding herself, she stuck to things that required as little effort as possible.
I don’t exactly eat saltines every night for dinner, but I understand the point. When I’m not cooking for others, I tend to lack the focus and energy to make a complete meal for myself. There are things I’d rather be doing with my time, and besides, I’m very easily satisfied. What’s the point in expelling all the energy, using up all that time, dirtying another dish, another pot, another fork and spoon?
But last Monday night, I felt in a bit of a food rut. I had eaten out a lot the prior week and hadn’t really gotten a whole lot of time in the kitchen, not even on the weekend when I generally do most of my meal-making. I still had quite a bit of produce in my fridge thanks to a Strip District visit the weekend before, and I didn’t have much to do or anywhere to be. I wasn’t even particularly tired.
So I set to making a simple stir fry. Those of you who already have their chosen stir fry, feel free to ignore this recipe. Those who haven’t found their recipe might want to try mine. I’m not saying it’s the best, but it’s damn satisfying, especially with the addition of the green onion pancake.
Another one of my problems in cooking for myself is that I always end up making way too much, to the point that it’s more than even simple leftover lunch the next day can handle. This recipe yields a quantity big enough to share between two people.
Green Onion Pancake Stir Fry
– 2 to 4 green onions, chopped
– 1 small green pepper
– 1 small red pepper
– 1 small zucchini
– 1 tbsp veg oil
– 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
– 3 tbsp soy sauce
– 1/4 tsp ground ginger
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
– Garlic chili hot sauce (optional – use to taste)
– 1 pre-packaged green onion pancake (found in Asian grocery stores – I got my pack of six at Lotus)
– 1 cup instant brown rice
– For rice, prepare as instructed on box.
– Heat vegetable oil in a large, deep pan. Add green onions and sesame oil. Saute until onions are tender, then add peppers and seasonings. Cook for a few minutes longer, than add zucchini and soy sauce. Toss until everything is well coated. Allow to simmer on low heat for ten minutes.
– Cook the pancake in the toaster until lightly browned.
– Assemble your plate: First a scoop of rice, then the pancake. Add extra soy if desired. Then top generously with veggies and leftover sauce from the pan.