Much as I love to cook and spend time experimenting with new dishes, when summer comes, I enter a stage of non-inspiration which is often combined with lethargy. It is simply too hot and with the stove on, the kitchen is the stuffiest and hottest part of the house. It doesn’t matter whether you install an industrial fan and open all the windows. Summer in the Philippines can be agony. Still, it isn’t an excuse for taking the easy way out by calling the pizza delivery service. The trick is to spend less time in the kitchen without subjecting my family to reheated leftovers.
Last night, for instance, dinner consisted of the stir fried dish that you see in the photo above — strips of chicken thigh meat with diced white cabbage, carrot slices, snap peas, bell peppers, cucumber wedges and whole shallots. I served it with rice and, on the side, century eggs and jellyfish. To make sure that I wouldn’t have to cook lunch from scratch today, I made enough stir fry last night for two meals.
Half an hour before lunch today, I blanched some egg noodles in a pot of boiling water. Then, I reheated the stir fry and tossed the noodles in. I added more soy sauce, Kecap Manis and oyster sauce to balance the seasonings. Presto! A new look, a new feel, no evidence that I was too lazy to cook lunch.
Want another no-sweat cooking idea? Click the link to page 2 below.
A few days ago, I simmered some soup bones to make a large pot of broth. When the broth was ready, I strained it and divided it into two portions. One portion went into the freezer after it has cooled to room temperature. Half an hour before lunch was due, I reheated the second portion and threw in some chicken thigh fillets. In another pot, I cooked some egg noodles.
When the noodles were done, I strained them and placed equal portions in individual bowls. Then, I scooped out the cooked chicken thighs from the broth, cut them into smaller pieces and added them to the noodles. Next came the vegetables. A carrot was sliced and blanched in the still simmering broth. After a minute, I scooped them out and placed them with the chicken and noodles. Then, the dark green portion of pechay leaves were likewise sliced and blanched in the broth. Again, they were scooped out and placed in the bowls. Finally, simmering broth was poured into the bowls. Some chopped onion leaves and toasted garlic bits were added for garnish and lunch was ready.
The chicken thigh fillets that I used for the noodle dish was about half of a whole pack. Having thawed the entire pack, I cut the remaining chicken meat into strips, seasoned them with soy sauce and pepper and kept them in the fridge. They went into the pechay guisado that I served for dinner that same day.
The pechay that went into this sauteed dish were the light green and white portions of the same pechay that went into the chicken noodle soup. They were sliced, some carrots were julienned and, with the marinated chicken strips, became a totally new dish with basically the same ingredients used in the noodle soup. Sauteeing has got to be one of the simplest cooking techniques ever invented. I just sauteed some garlic, onions and ginger in oil and added the chicken. When the chicken was done (in high heat, it only takes a few minutes), I added the vegetables, poured in a little soy sauce (try combining light soy sauce with Kecap Manis and it’s magic), ground some pepper and it was done.
Summer can be an agony but cooking doesn’t have to be.