Monday, January 20, 2014

It is I, Maker of Dinner!

"If only it was as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly as it is to masturbate."

Diogenes the Cynic

I will be the first to admit that I am not build for kitchen-work. To date, the closest I've come to cooking is frying an omelette, boiling instant ramen, and assembling store-bought pasta and pasta sauce. I have a penchant for slightly burnt food and food I cook invariably (and perhaps intentionally) ends up a little charred as well - perfect for me, but not so suitable to the palate of ordinary mortals. I also tend to throw random ingredients into the stuff I make just to find out what the resulting mess tastes like, like that time I thought sticking reconstituted dried cranberries into pasta sauce is a good idea (it was, surprisingly).

Yesterday morning, I found a half-empty bag of macaroni and thought that we should try and finish it before they grow legs and scuttle away. We went shopping and I bought a can of mushroom carbonara sauce, a bunch of oyster mushrooms and a string of Taiwanese sausage. That evening, I put them together and voilĂ ! Dinner is served!

Macaroni in Carbonara Sauce with Oyster Mushrooms and Taiwanese Sausage Slices
Macaroni in Carbonara sauce with Taiwanese sausage and oyster mushrooms.

However, I still have some macaroni left over after that plus two extra Taiwanese sausages - so that compelled me to also make dinner tonight. Anyway, I don't mind it terribly. The wife is always put in a better mood whenever I cook heat stuff up for her, so that incentivises me to do that. And no matter what I make, she always pretends to enjoy it. Our marriage is built on little lies like that.

So today afternoon, during the lunch hour, I drove to a nearby supermarket to get some more cooking ingredients. There, I spotted these huge phallic mushrooms with comical tiny caps on display in the chiller and immediately grabbed a couple even though I have no idea what they are or how they taste like, because life's too short to keep sticking to familiar fungi. I also adventurously picked out a bulb of garlic and a bulb of onion at random because I have zero idea on what constitutes good specimens of these condiments (not having ever used them or bought them before in my entire life). I handed them to the bagger who made me go get two more bulbs of garlic and another onion bulb because there is apparently such a thing as a minimum weight of purchase for these items. Great. Now I have more than I can use.

Through an online visual guide, I identified the manly mushrooms I bought as king trumpet mushrooms or Pleurotus eryngii, cousin to the oyster mushrooms we had the day before. I chopped two of these prodigously stemmed mushrooms up into coin-shaped bits and stir-fried them with some onions, chopped garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. I didn't really choose the soy sauce or the sesame oil - they were just what I happened to grab when I was working the frying pan. I could just as easily have grabbed the vinegar or dishwashing soap.

King Trumpet Mushroom Medallions Stir-Fried
King trumpet mushroom medallions stir-fried in soy sauce and sesame oil.

Considering that this was the first time I cooked an actual dish from scratch, I was surprised by how delicious it was. The mushroom medallions were succulent, meaty, fragrant and have the texture of scallops. Where have this awesome species of mushroom been all my life?

I sliced my one remaining log of king trumpet mushroom lengthwise into thin, flat rectangles and dropped them into some store-bought cheese and herb pasta sauce along with some garlic and onion. The final goop was a teeny-tiny bit thin because I had added too much water to it but it was still serviceable. I also fried up the remainder of the Taiwanese sausages from yesterday's dinner.

Macaroni & Cheese with Taiwanese Sausage & Crispy Fried Garlic Flakes
Macaroni and cheese with king trumpet mushroom slices, Taiwanese sausage and crispy fried garlic flakes.

For garnish, I cut a few cloves of garlic into thin slices and fried them in olive oil till they are nice, brown and crispy flakes. Cheryl didn't like them because they were a tad too burnt and tasted a wee bit bitter and acrid - but not me, I loved 'em. Now, spare me that worn-out canard of how burnt food can cause cancer. They only found a link of that in charred meat and even that is less than conclusive.

Overall, dinner was a satisfying affair and no one died from it (hence, a success). Now, I just need to find something to do with my remaining two bulbs of garlic and bulb of onion...

Experimental epicurean,
k0k s3n w4i

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