I rarely ever cook from blogs. I guess that makes me, well, not a hypocrite exactly, but definitely a form of poseur since I obviously expect that you cook from mine. It's not that I'm biased against the blogosphere; I don't cook much from the paper's food section or from magazines, either. I used to tear out salivating recipes or even just the interesting ones (dill pickles filled with homemade pimento cheese, anyone?) until the hot pink binder I had set aside for my clippings refused to open its pages for another slip of paper. That's when I realized a Truth About Me: I'd never made most of the recipes that I'd thoughtfully torn from the pages of some prized place. And I never would.
I realized that their main service was to inspire, to make me rethink the ingredients in my pantry, to send me running into my kitchen to open the fridge and start removing herbs, vegetables, and meats at random, to pick through my spice cabinet with pursed lips looking for just the right flavor. That is purpose enough, most of the time.
But this recipe was one that I knew I would make from the moment I read it. Who can say why? I simply liked it. Its simplicity, both of method and ingredient. Its hominess. Its melting pot of flavors that I adore -- the almost minty rush of cilantro, the heat of chilies, the unctuousness of a few heavy drops of sesame oil.
Tara's Mother's vaguely Asian chicken-corn soup
I tweaked this just a smidgen, not enough to call it my own but enough to go to the bother of retyping it. I had planned to use udon noodles because I just love them so much, but then we ended up with gads of yummy rice from our take-out last night, and I hated to let it go to waste. Next time, Mr. Udon, next time...
3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade, but obviously that's not necessary)
2 scallions, white part separated from green, all thinly sliced
1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups cream-style corn (about 1 1/2 14-oz. cans)
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
5-10 dashes chili oil
1 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 TBSP sesame oil
scant 1/8 tsp salt
1 serrano chili, seeds removed, julienned
1 lime, cut into quarters
In a stock pot, heat the chicken stock with 1/2 cup water, the white part of the scallions, the ginger and the garlic over medium heat. Bring stock to a simmer and allow to steep until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, chicken and chili oil, reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the rice and heat, about 2 minutes. Add the cilantro leaves, sesame oil and salt (adjust amount to taste). Garnish with chili and a squirt of lime.