Growing up, one of my favorite meals was Chinese food from the take-out place near my family’s house in Brooklyn. The restaurant, which stood (and still stands!) across from the local police station and pizzeria, served up the typical rotation of heavily sauced and overly sweet Chinese-American favorites. We always ordered cold sesame noodles, garlicky stir-fried broccoli and beef, and sweet and sour chicken, with its cloak of bright orange sauce studded with juicy chunks of canned pineapple. This last dish was my favorite, for at the time it seemed like a delightfully sophisticated version of chicken nuggets.
Lately, I’ve been working on some writing that is not for this blog, and it’s been consuming a great deal of my time. There are days when I’m so busy tapping away at the computer that I almost forget to eat lunch. Yesterday was one of those days. I realized it had been hours since breakfast and stumbled into the kitchen, weak-kneed and lightheaded.
After staring into the fridge for a few minutes, ideas for two dishes began to take shape: one would be a bold stir-fry, the other a cool, refreshing salad.
I pulled out some leftover pork belly, a mildly hot green pepper, ginger, half a leek, silken tofu, some miso, and a packet of red pickled ginger. From the cabinet, I retrieved ground toasted sesame seeds, mirin, sake, shoyu, and sesame oil. On the counter were garlic and a container of tiny, sweet cherry tomatoes. I grabbed those, too.
Then I set to work chopping, slicing, mincing, and mixing.