If your weekend was anything like mine then you are comfortable having put summer to bed, tucked-in snugly with the knowledge it will sleep tight until it awakens again next year. Windows will close, doors are shut, and the nuanced smells of long simmered foods become more prevalent.
I can’t imagine a life without seasons. Not because I like the hot and cold but because they are markers, clear delineations that it is time to get on with life, a deep breath of reflection before pushing on, no summit to conquer, no eye on a prize, just a moment to reflect on the journey.
I am back to doing what I love—cooking, my way. This time of year I always cook Asian cuisine. It is such a departure from what I have done all summer, cooked from the garden, be it mid-western or southern foods, or farm favorites. Now I go to the Asian grocery and buy up bok choi, pigs liver, shiso peppers, lemon grass, and Chinese celery. Foods that I have done without since last fall.
For a few months I will get my fill, until winter.
Asian Spaghetti (serves 4)
This is great for weeknights. The sauce like many gets better with age and can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (you can even double the recipe and freeze half.) Then simply make your noodles, warm the sauce, and serve.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium red onion, fine dice (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, trimmed, fine dice (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Fresno red pepper, chopped
3 Shiso peppers, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
rice noodles, cooked
- Set a 3 quart (3l) enameled cast iron pot, or any heavy bottomed pot onto the stove. Turn the heat to medium high. Add oil and let it become hot.
- Add the ground beef, break it into small pieces and let it brown. Add red onion, celery, ginger, and garlic. Stir, let the vegetables soften and become fragrant.
- Add Hoisin sauce, tomatoes, lime juice and soy. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and let the liquid reduce until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Place the hot noodles onto a platter, top with sauce, and sprinkle the peppers and cilantro over the top. Serve with a nice stir fried vegetable like bok choi in oyster sauce.