Good morning everyone! And Happy New Year! How was your night? When we were younger, a wild night was nothing. Do you remember those days?
Or rather nights. Then you go through a spell when you try to keep up but really pay for your escapades the next day. Finally, you reach that comfortable place when wild nights hold no appeal and there’s no need to pretend they do. It’s okay to spend a New Year’s Eve sober. No dancing about on tables with a lampshade on your head. The benefit of sober celebrations is that you can wake all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to greet the new day and embrace the new year. For us, the closest thing to “wild” came in a raised glass of sparkling cider and a big kiss from Hubby. This is the case when your celebration includes young children. There are definite advantages to a tame New Year’s Eve. For one thing, you can do your marketing early on New Year’s Day. The grocery stores are empty. Shopping without a crowd or long lines is a welcome change on the heels of the Christmas Shopping madness.
Hubby had a strange look on his face as he checked our grocery list. Puzzled, confused, uncertain. Those were the expressions in his eyes.
“Is there a problem?” I asked as I slipped on my comfy shoes for shopping.
“What is Mirin and do we have any?” He asked, peering into one of our two pantries.
“Nope.” I smiled. (Our pantries are packed with more than just cans and boxes of foods. There are shelves dedicated to little bottles and jars of all sorts of things – mainly a smorgasbord of flavored oils, vinegars and spices from around the world). “We’ll need to pick some up. Just look in the Oriental section at the store.”
Although sometimes confused with rice wine vinegar, Mirin actually is a sweet rice wine used predominately in Japanese cooking. It doesn’t just add flavor to your food, the shimmering sweetness also gives a beautiful luster to the finished sauce.
When it comes to stir-fry cooking or when I have a lot of little ingredients to add to a dish, I like to use my little metal bowls, not much bigger than a shot glass. They stack easily, don’t take up much room and are great for all sorts of things. These little bowls are wonderful when cooking, letting me line up the ingredients next to the pan, just waiting their turn for addition to whatever I am whipping up. You can weigh/measure ahead of time and have everything at the ready. We also use them for personal add-ons (great for holding chopped chives and bacon bits for baked potatoes or shaved cheese for pastas – you get the picture).
Measuring and holding is also why I have four sets of measuring spoons and stacking measuring cups. While I love lining everything up, it drives Hubby crazy – more little things for the KP crew to deal with.
Spicy Korean Beef Stir-Fry
3 tablespoons Mirin
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
In a small bowl, combine Mirin, soy sauce and cornstarch. Using a small whisk or spoon, stir well to blend and set aside until ready to use.
Beef Stir Fry
10 oz Flank steak
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped (seeds optional, depending upon desired heat)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 cups Bean Sprouts
8 oz Baby Spinach
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Sesame seeds
Place Flank Steak in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once firm but not frozen, slice thin against the grain. Set aside.
Line up small bowls (about the size of a shot glass) to hold the Garlic, Jalapeno Pepper and Ginger. Chop garlic, place in bowl. Finely chop Jalapeno, place in next bowl, and finally grate Ginger into the last little bowl.
Heat canola oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Swirl pan to distribute the oil up the sides just a little. Spread the thin slices of steak in the wok and brown, about 2 minutes or so, stirring as it browns. (You need to keep an eye on the flank steak so as to not over cook it and the meat will remain tender).
Add Garlic, Jalapeno and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (The aroma is awesome at this point).
Add the bean sprouts and give them a quick stir to incorporate into the meat. Tear the baby spinach directly into the wok.
Give the Mirin mixture a quick stir just to make sure everything is nicely blended. Pour mixture into the wok and stir gently in a folding motion until the sauce thickens and the spinach is wilted, about 2 or 3 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in the cilantro and sesame oil.
Place stir-fry in a serving bowl or high-rimmed serving platter. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
This stir-fry can be served alone or over sticky rice. Be sure to have a little soy sauce at the table for those who might want more with the rice.
Serve and enjoy!