10 September, 2007

Pakistani politics and sprouts














So. We're walking home from the car yesterday evening and there's a huge crowd of Asian photographers with huge furry microphones and all sorts of equipment, hanging about the doorway of the block of flats across the way. John approached one of the guys sitting on the stoop of our building and said, "Hey, who's coming out?" "The former Prime Minister of Pakistan," the fellow answered, and sure enough, like clockwork, up went a bunch of green flags with a man's picture printed on it, and the man himself emerged from the building. "Cool," John said, and aside from watching in my apron from the kitchen window, I didn't give the matter much further thought.

Until the Breakfast News this morning.

"Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, left his posh red-velvet flat in London's Mayfair today for Heathrow Airport, to fly to his native Pakistan where the Supreme Court has overturned his exile." Then, later in the day, he was deported to Saudi Arabia, pending further Supreme Court machinations with General Musharraf. To think this was all happening in our very own neighborhood! One day last spring John said, "Run to the window, there's David Frost across the street!" He must have been going to interview this chap. Amazing!

Nearly as interesting as these international politics on our doorstep is... a lovely sprout dish I invented tonight. It's a variation on the leftover flank steak recipe I made for lunch at Red Gate Farm this summer. This requires no leftovers, and includes even more veg, for your health. Enjoy.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Sprouts, Noodles and Red Pepper
(serves four)


1 1/2 lb chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut in strips
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsps soy sauce, plus more for sprinkling
2 tbsps mirin
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsps peanut oil
2 red bell peppers, cut in strips
1 red chili, chopped and seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
3 cups (one standard package) bean sprouts
100 grams Asian noodles (I like Sharwoods, here in the UK)

First, marinate your chicken in the juices, soy, mirin and sesame oil. Then boil water and cook your noodles, and set aside. Chop your peppers, garlic, ginger and scallions, and you're in business.

Heat the peanut oil as hot as you can in a skillet or wok, and throw in the chicken. Cook just until not pink inside and remove from skillet. Add the vegetables and saute until just cooked. Throw the noodles and chicken (and the juices from its dish) into the mix and toss thoroughly with tongs, sprinkling with more soy sauce to make a nice texture. Voila.

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This was fantastic. So simple, so inexpensive, so easy. Colorful and children will LOVE it. It had all Avery's favorite things: chicken, peppers, noodles and SALT.

Let's see: tomorrow will be the unhappy anniversary, which does not mean so much here so it was perfectly normal for the school to plan its 5th anniversary celebration. So tomorrow afternoon will find us gathering at All Souls Church in Langham Place to hear the sounds of little piping voices. I myself still find it hard to buy milk or anything else whose sell-by date is stamped September 11. Such a dumb thing, but I feel that way. It's just too evocative, still. Ah, well, some people assert that after six years it is time to move on and stop observing anniversaries and reliving and such. I'm not sure about that, so we will be getting together with our New York friends, the McBs and Vincent and Peter, but just to get together. And to cook and eat! I haven't a clue about the menu yet, but I will let you know. Doubtless, with that cast of characters, the food will be noteworthy. Wherever tomorrow finds you, be safe and put an arm around someone you love. Even maybe two, arms and a someone.

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