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The Chicken Stew in the Jar of Eyes

Made a chicken stew for our very late dinner tonight. I took a peek into our fridge after work, and threw some cubed potatoes, carrots, leeks and chicken into our hot pot. Some weeks ago, mokie pointed me at a recipe for homemade instant vegetable bouillon. The idea was to grab whatever vegetables and herbs were near death were in your fridge's veggie cabinet (fresh seasonal vegetables also suffice), pulse them to a coarse meal, salt it then freeze it as a flavour-augmenter for your dishes. As it turned out, at the last Changeling game, I decided I would make nasi kerabu (Malay-style herbed rice), which involves blending herbs and squeezing out their juices with water, before using that liquid to cook the rice. While straining the minced herbs, I realised what I essentially had in my hands was something akin to the bouillon, which, if stirred in with seasoning and olive oil, was also essentially a pesto.

Luckily for the cook and the gamers involved, I was also making rendang (Malay beef stew) to go with the rice. The Malay-influenced pesto went into that instead (and tasted awesome). But the idea stuck, and that's what mattered more. So tonight, I poked about my fridge and also took out the wilted remains of a Chinese cabbage, leftover fresh basil, fresh Chinese parsley, weeping onions and garlic. I blended the lot, and used the strained, verdantly green liquid as the base for my stew's gravy. The relatively dry, finely minced herbs were then mixed with olive oil and salt, and is now curing away in my fridge. I can't believe I'm combining my love of pesto and salted cabbage. It's awesome, and tasty, and I need to find some bland, creamy cheese and tomatoes to drizzle this stuff on.

Also! Quite sad I had to stop writing about writhing pickled cabbage-babies with Finches IV. The writing group seemed to like the blinking eye of kimchee though, which is good. I liked him too. Just so you know, pickling is totally goth. It is the abatement of death by various fermenting acids, very much a shadowed realm in itself, like an M.R. James story that was never written -- the ghostly maiden scratching from within the mason jar. You will note, dear reader, that for entirely good reason, I refuse to hang or put up any such ornament that has a human face with EYES in the house, by which they might stare at me in the middle of the goddamn night. My imagination's just about bad enough.


Mar. 9th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
Squash is one of those strong flavours that I've never really been able to combine with others too well. It sort of demands standing on its own. Squash lightly stewed in coconut milk with a bit of salt and peppter is tasty.

I know you can't take too much soy sauce, but a dash of soy, mirin/rice wine, sprinkle of diced spring onion and some slices of konnyaku (konjac jelly) while hot or cold makes for a tasty thing to have with warm rice when you're hungry.

Chopped herbage and olive oil + perfectly tender squash also = win!
Mar. 9th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
Squash is a bit of a mystery, isn't it? To me, it's a strong flavor, but it's really easy to accidentally muddle it under other flavors. So far, my favorite pairing is squash+clove+galangal (a little of clove and galangal go a long way).

I plan to also try it with normal flavor pairings like cinnamon or sage, but I suspect that I don't like those pairings much.

Mmmm, konnyaku. I like it even though it doesn't taste like much of anything. In fact, I have some in my fridge right now. :)
Mar. 9th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, konnyaku. I need to buy more! Always forget to check if the local Vietnamese supermarket carries it. They have the most awesome Chinese vegetarian meat and flavoured tofu section in their freezer. It's like Disneyworld for me there.

Clove and galangal sounds like an interesting combo. A bit sourish with a burst of heat, I imagine.

Cinnamon and sage reminds me of pumpkin pie. Admittedly, I haven't tried pumpkin pie I really enjoyed yet. There are various pumpkin in sweetened coconut milk desserts that are super tasty though, Thai ones in particular. I wonder if squash can be substituted in them?
Mar. 10th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
I don't have fresh galangal, only powdered. Is it sour? When I smell it, it seems like it has a complex floral tone to it.

Hmmm, perhaps I need to make a batch of squash soup with coconut milk.
Mar. 10th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
Fresh galangal is not sour, and I don't think the powdered stuff is too. It's very much like ginger, but with a complex floral tone, and less warm. When I was referring to a sour note, I was actually talking about the cloves, which has always struck me as having a vaguely sour aftertaste. It's quite a strong flavour in itself, but works well with other spices.

Squash soup with coconut milk sounds like a potentially tasty experiment!
Mar. 11th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
Oh, that makes more sense. Although, I never considered clove to be bitter. Clove is something I'm never really sure how to describe except "use sparingly or expect a punch in the mouth." ;)
Mar. 11th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
Clove is an overpoweringly medicinal taste. I prefer "use sparingly or expect a punch in the mouth" though. It shall my latest appropriated description! ;)