As is often the case when tired, I was craving good take-out food this evening, which does not exist here. My desires today very much centered around the flavors of the sauce used to make Mongolian style spicy beef and I started with those to end up with this recipe for "Mongolian" vegetables for dinner. For that read ginger, dried hot peppers, a lip tinglingly spicy sweet and sour sauce...
Disclaimer: this is a completely inauthentic and freestyled dish of no discernible national origin, named in homage to a Chinese takeout stalwart.
2 cups assorted veggies, whatever you have in the fridge ( I used a mixture of cherry tomatoes, arugula, spinach, zucchini and carrots)
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in water a couple of hours before hand (cut off the dry ends of the stems, which you can then use as well as the caps)
1/8 red onion, peeled and cut into half moons
large pinch of ground ginger root (about 1/16th of a tsp which felt weird to use as a measurement)
1 dried red chili, seeds and all, broken into irregular pieces or a large pinch of chili flakes, according to taste, spicy being a subjective taste
1/2 cup water (you can use the water from rehydrating the mushrooms)
2 tsps soy sauce
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsps cornstarch, mixed up in a small bowl with 1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
1 tsp chopped Japanese daikon radish pickle for garnish (optional)
Prep your vegetables by cutting them into different shapes for textural mouthfeel when eating, but try to ensure that they are cut so that they cook more or less in the same amount of time. For example, I cut my zucchini into thickish half moons, but used a mandoline to slice my whole carrots ensuring that both would cook within a few minutes. Slice the mushroom caps into ribbons.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. As soon as it shimmers, add the onion, ginger, and chili. Cook, stirring constantly so the ginger doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan, for a minute or so before adding the shiitake. Stir to combine and cook for a minute before adding the rest of the vegetables, except for any leafy greens that you might be using.
Lower the heat, and add the water, soy sauce and maple syrup. Stir to combine and let the vegetables cook for a couple of minutes. Taste a piece and cook a bit more if necessary.
If cooked, stir in the leafy greens which will wilt upon contact with the other vegetables.
Pour in the cornstarch slurry and stir constantly while a thick glossy sauce forms and adheres to all the vegetable pieces. Taste and adjust spice levels if needed as well as salt. I did not add any extra salt as the soy sauce added enough for my taste, but you might need more.
Serve at once, preferably over steamed Japanese rice. Top with garnishes if so desired.
Inspiration recipe, here.