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A satisfying stir-fry. January 11, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I just returned from a long weekend in North Carolina visiting family, and our trip included supper at one of our favorite restaurants, P.F. Chang’s. (Mind you, we only eat there when in Greensboro, NC, which means once or at most twice a year, so it’s a real treat.) P.F. Chang’s always puts out a tray of condiments at each table, including our favorite Chinese super-hot mustard, duck sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and the like. The tray also includes a cruet of chili oil.

Now, not being a fan of hot for heat’s sake, I’d never dared to try the chili oil. But this trip, I gathered my courage and asked our server about it. “It’s not really that hot, but it adds a nice smoky flavor to food,” he said. So when my spring rolls arrived, I tentatively asked OFB to pass the chili oil.

Our server was right! It wasn’t too hot, but it added a delicious smoky flavor. Yum!!! When my tofu and broccoli main course arrived, I applied chili oil liberally and was ecstatic with the flavor of my meal. “Where can I find this?!” I asked. Our server assured me that I could find it in most supermarkets, and then arrived with a couple of containers for me to take home as well. No wonder we love P.F. Chang’s!

Back home, I was determined to put that chili oil to good use. I happened to have extra-firm tofu, snap peas, mushrooms, red bell peppers, garlic, sweet onion, baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh ginger, and cashews on hand. So I put brown basmati rice in the rice cooker and sauteed the veggies, tofu, and some miso paste in the chili oil, adding the cashews just before serving it all over the rice. Oh, yum! Another culinary success story.

Now the question is, can I really find mildly hot, smoky chili oil in the grocery, as our server assured me I could? I hope so. And if so, try it, you’ll like it!

          ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

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