It was a Christmas not quite like years past. My family deciding if it’s safe or not to even see each other for something that we have often taken advantage of over the years – what a strange and fascinating time we are living in.
So our holiday felt open. Just like an ordinary Friday, with a few Christmas carols playing in the background. No big family meal. No coffee drinking with my mom and sister while everyone else buzzed around us. Just me, my quiet little household, and an oddly spring-like day.
I had to do something festive. I wanted something that felt fancy. Normally my folks put out the good china for the holidays with a wintry, elegant centerpiece. Those things are not available at my home. Its… grubbier than what fancy dishes and tablecloths will allow for.
But you know what I had? Scallops. And rice noodles. Some pretty weak vegetables that needed used, and a brand new ginger peanut sauce to try.
The scallops were great, but everything else, while beautiful, tasted all wrong. My family was at least gracious.
Here is what I did:
•Chopped mushrooms, bok choy, and carrots into large chunks
•Finely chopped cilantro and green onion
•Added carrots to pan first, mushrooms second, bok choy last. Adding in the peanut sauce at the mushrooms stage, letting it cook down, then adding more as needed
•Tossed in peanuts, cilantro, a few green onions (reserving the rest for a garnish), and a squeeze of lime
•In the meantime, I cooked the rice noodles and set aside
•I seared the scallops in a separate pan, threw in half a pat of butter, seasoned with salt, lemon, pepper, and a touch of garlic
•Placed it all on a plate. So pretty…
And here is everything I did wrong:
•The carrots were the wrong choice. Too sweet for what I wanted
•Either not enough peanut sauce, or too much lime. I couldn’t decide. But the two flavors would not play well together
•The noodles really needed about 2 more minutes to be cooked just right
•Speaking of cook time – the carrots were too crunchy, the bok choy and cilantro were cooked to a slow death, and don’t even get me started on the green onions…
I knew better. That was the frustrating part. But I was happy for the scallops. If I haven’t already mentioned it – we are currently on a pescatarian adventure, so if I successfully cook something from the sea, that is progress right there.
Next time – I plan on picking entirely different veggies, trying a different brand/variety of peanut sauce (or maybe curry sauce), and take a “less is more” approach. This dish just had too much going on, and in all the wrong directions.
But I’m glad I tried it. I’m glad I took an ordinary Friday that happened to be Christmas and turned it into another cooking escapade in my little kitchen.
Here is to trying new things, and remaining hopeful even after things don’t turn out quite right,