Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chinese Hamburger with Peas

No matter what culinary feats I may accomplish, how intricate and subtly spiced dishes I may prepare I think my families favorite may be simple Chinese Hamburger with Peas. I am pretty sure this recipe will mark the first time my best friend from high school, Kira, makes anything from my blog. It is still a favorite of hers as well.

For me this is basic comfort food. I have no idea what cookbook it was from because my father, in a move that still enrages me, allowed roommates to throw out my mothers complete set of Le Creuset, including a kitchen workhorse they no longer make, and all my mother's cookbooks. After my mother died my father began to make it, it was our weekly respite from take out food. We used to wing it, when making this for dinner, but I got tired of the sometimes lackluster renditions, so I tested and recorded the best version.

This is truly a pantry staple/emergency dinner as you can cook the hamburger meat from a frozen block without a problem. Just throw the block into the pan and cook over medium high heat, flipping it every few minutes to scrape off the browned and defrosted meat. Not glamourous but really handy for getting dinner on the table without ordering take out.

Tonight when making this Sebastian helped me, browning the meat, reading the recipe, measuring ingredients. Helping to brown the meat for this dish is one of my earliest memories in the kitchen. At dinner Julian talked about when he is in second grade and is old enough to help, "Even getting to brown the meat."

I have made it with veggie ground beef and it is still good, if you were not a meat eater my guess is it would be stellar that way, for me there was something missing.

Chinese Hamburger with Peas

1 lb ground beef (if you are vegetarian this still works with veggie ground beef)
2 small garlic cloves minced, or 1 large one (about 1 - 2 tsps)
1/2 cup dry sherry (you can also use sake or rice wine)
3 Tbsp Oyster Sauce (there are vegetarian/shellfish free versions or use hoisin sauce,)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp mushroom soy sauce (if you don't want to stock your pantry with another soy sauce just use all plain soy sauce)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 lb frozen peas (I prefer to use the ones in a bag, my mom always used the ones in a box)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 - 2 scallions chopped for garnish (optional, really I never use them, but this dish needed something for the photograph)

Brown the ground beef in a large saute pan over medium high heat, breaking the meat up into bite sized pieces. (If the meat is frozen just flip it over every few minutes and scrape off the cooked layer). Once the meat is all broken up and is starting to brown add the garlic (if the meat is very fatty drain off the extra fat before adding the garlic). After all the meat is browned add the sherry, oyster sauce, ginger and both soy sauces. Cook while stirring until well combined. Add the frozen peas and then dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir to blend well. Add the water cornstarch mixture and cook over high heat until the liquids boil and the sauce thickens a little from the cornstarch and the peas are heated through.

Serve with white or brown rice. As a child the question of where I wanted my rice in relation to the Chinese Hamburger was very important. Eventually I got to the place where I wanted the Chinese hamburger on top of the rice. Sebastian has it on top now and Julian is just beginning to mix some of his portion together at the end of the meal. It is one of those parenting echoes that I enjoy, rather then the ones that prove my parents cursed me to raise a child who is just like I was.

No comments:

Post a Comment