Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mmm...Smells Like Hamburger Helper...

...said my guy as he came though the door. And yes, true enough, the meat making stage of this dish does conjure up the smell of North America's iconic add-your-own-beef, boxed pasta. However, I rather think of the smell wafting through the kitchen as more akin to hamburger heaven. But wait, I wasn't even making hamburger! What I was making was what I call: Beef and Two Bean Rice. It really is a result of how many of my meals come to be: using up whatever is in the fridge, as I can't stand to see food go to waste.

What I had to work with were runner beans (courtesy of my mum's garden), and a pot of leftover rice. I also had a craving for the taste of *Chinese preserved black beans, and happen to always have those on hand. What I had to get was meat. (Okay, meat is not essential, but I love it. What can I say?) I got myself to Choices Market and into the meat section. As an aside, I love Choices for it's meat for a few reasons. It carries organic and specialty meat, and quite often marks down packages that are due to expire in a day or two, by a dollar or two. That means that you can often get un-medicated, local meat at very reasonable prices. And, their portions are always perfect for cooking for one or two people. (They have family packs too.) In general, the prices there can be high, but if you shop for what's on sale that week, it really is a good deal for natural and organic foods. And the best part is that it's B.C. owned and family operated.
(I ended up buying what was on sale of course - the organic ground beef.)

Now, back to Beef and Two Bean Rice. I have to tell you that this dish turned out much more impressively than I expected it would. It seemed so simple, and took only about 20 minutes to cook, and yet was packed with amazing flavour. Although the meat plays no minor role, the green and black beans are the real standouts. The crunchy freshness of the green bean works really well with the salty, slightly bitter, and earthy flavour of the black bean. Black beans are also full of iron, and sodium. Lots of sodium, so do taste before you add any soy.
Recipe for two people: about 4 cups of cooked rice (leftover pasta will work too), about 20 green beans sliced across the length in thin strips, about 1/3 of a kilo of ground beef, about 2 teaspoons of Chinese black beans, about 4 tablespoons of cooking oil, 1 tablespoon each of minced ginger and garlic, 3 tablespoons of diced onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar (optional), and white or black pepper to taste.

(You may notice that there is a lot of "about" for measurements. This is because I usually wing it when I cook. And also because the stuff I make usually has room for adjustments, especially depending on personal taste, and what you need to use up :o)

Instructions: Heat cooking oil in a pan and saute onions on medium heat until transparent, then add ground beef and cook until done. In another pan, add oil and saute garlic and ginger on medium heat until just about golden, then add green beans and stir fry until slightly transparent. Add black beans and stir until they are soft and beans are transparent. Heat the rice. (I usually re-heat leftover rice by adding water and steaming it in a pot, but you can also use the microwave for this). Then, while everything is hot, put it all in one big heap, stir it up, add soy sauce, rice vinegar and pepper as you wish, and eat it up!

It smells like Hamburger Helper, but tastes so much better :o)

*Chinese preserved black beans are the basis for the black bean sauce served in many a Chinese restaurant. You can buy the sauce in a jar at the supermarket, but it's quite easy just to cook the preserved beans up with garlic to add that distinct black bean flavour to your dish. If you want to replicate the stuff in the jar, add cornstarch emulsified in water to the beans and garlic, and heat and stir until thick. Preserved black beans can be found at most Chinese markets.

1 comment:

babbler said...

Greetings from Slugs Rest in Oregon at the coast! I think your dinner is inspirational, I do not like to waste my leftovers either, I often cook them with a potato all cut up and make a casserole. Great presentation too!
Happy Thursday to you,
Mrs. Slug