Broccomeat/Broccofu

Did I mention that we are broke students who live in Newfoundland, a rock in the middle of the north Pacific Atlantic Ocean?

This recipe arose out of necessity, when the only vegetable we could get in the winter that was half decent was broccoli, and the only protein we could afford was a block of tofu or a thin frying steak that cost two dollars.

Fortunately, we take after our respective parents, and do not lack for condiments.

This is a Pie recipe, and until the night he let me photograph it, I never knew the secret.  Of course, as he says, improvisation is quintessential, and the recipe is not exactly the same every night.  Accordingly, I have provided you with alternative ingredient options: the tofu option (“broccofu”), the steak option (“broccomeat”), the teriyaki version (sweeter), and the black bean version (more sour).

Separate two small heads of broccoli into individual florets, and slice up the tender part of the stem, while you’re at it.

Cube a block of firm tofu — the firmer the better, because it will disintegrate on you.  I love cutting tofu.  It’s like extra hard Jello.

Alternatively, slice a thin uncooked steak into strips.

In a large pan or wok, heat up two tablespoons of peanut or other frying oil with a tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger from a jar.  If you are doing the teriyaki version, omit the ginger.

When your oil is sizzling with your minced herbs, add your tofu or your steak and allow to brown for a few minutes.  While it’s doing its thing, mix together, in a small bowl, a tablespoon of each of the following (2 if you’re feeling saucy):

black bean sauce (it’s more of a paste) / alternatively / teriyaki sauce

garlic black bean sauce (it’s more of a liquid) / alternatively / sweet and sour sauce

peanut oil

soy sauce

hoi sin sauce

garlic chili sauce

plum sauce

I know.  Everything seems to have garlic in it.  Trust me.  It works out.  Don’t be afraid to improvise with what you have and experiment to cater to your own tastes.  Stir fries are meant to be made up.

Pour the sauce into the pan and stir the tofu/steak until coated.  The Pie wishes to point out that the reason he adds the sauce before the broccoli is because he finds that the florets act like sponges and suck all the sauce away unless it has a chance to coat the other ingredients first.

After mixing in the sauce, drop in your broccoli florets and stems, and heat until the broccoli is bright green.

Serves 2 over rice.  With the rice, the whole thing costs you less than $4.  My cheap brother Kristopf would be proud.

MAN CHICKEN

I’ve been craving this particular recipe for a while, but good chicken doesn’t come cheap in this town.

My oldest brother Kristopf lived in Japan for about five years.  During that time he was pretty miserly with his money, ate a lot of mayonnaise and rice, and wasn’t too inventive in the kitchen.

One of his staples during this time that did survive his return to North America and subsequent new appreciation for food is something I like to call Man Chicken.  I once cornered him into giving me the recipe, which takes up about two lines in my magic book and has no real exact measurements in it, just ‘some’ and ‘a bit’.  It’s a recipe after my own heart.

With a sharp knife, slice 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs) into 1″ strips and remove excess fat and gristle.

Slice into 1" strips.

Put the strips in a bowl and add 2-3 teaspoons minced ginger (comes in jar, just like garlic), 4 tablespoons or so rice vinegar, and 4 tablespoons or so soy sauce.  Kristopf prefers the Japanese brands of these kind of things, but he’s a bit of a snob.  Stir it up, cover it, and put it in the fridge to marinate for a little while.

Toss the contents of your bowl, chicken and marinade, into a pan and sauté until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over rice.  We ate it with steamed baby spinach.  Blamo kablam.