Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sweet Success after Sweet Failure

Chicken and Vegetable Stif-fry with a Secret Ingredient

Seventeen days. It was obviously too long. I’m talking about my nashi (Asian pear) infused vodka. It has been seventeen days since I sank those pear segments in vodka. I should have checked it once in a while, but I just gave it a good rest in the dark in my small cupboard. In other words, I almost forgot about it. Besides, considering how long it took for my grape-infused vodka to be really flavorful, I thought I should give it 3 weeks or so. Wrong idea. I opened the jar today for the first time to check how it was doing, and I hated myself for waiting that long.

The moment I smelled the vodka, I was almost shocked. It smelled sweet indeed, but not the kind of fruity sweetness that I had in mind. How should I describe it…? The smell reminded me of some kind of chocolate bonbons with real strong liquor in. No, I'm not saying that my vodka smelled like chocolate. You know the kind of bonbon that has a layer of coarse sugar or candy inside? The smell of my nashi infused vodka reminded me of that boozed-up coarse sugar! And it was so strong that it almost knocked me down.

I strained the vodka and poured some in a glass to experiment. I added some ice and water to see if I can smell and taste the pears when it's thinned. Yes, I did, but not the way I wanted. It was not fruity at all. It was more like over-ripened pears that already lost its fragrance and is going bad pretty soon.

Maybe it might taste OK if mixed with other drinks, but I had no idea what can be the right kind of drinks for that. Instead, an idea popped up in my mind. Can’t I use it for cooking? I heard about using vodka or bourbon for cooking chicken, so why not this infused vodka?

So here is a Chinese-style dish I improvised: Chicken and veggie stir-fry with good amount of Asian- pear infused vodka! I marinated the chicken briefly in garlic, soy sauce and the vodka, then stir-fried it with minced garlic and ginger root and other vegetables. For seasoning, I used salt, pepper and about a teaspoonful Dou ban jiang (Chinese chili paste) dissolved in mirin, and at the end I added soy sauce and a good amount of my nashi- infused vodka!

While I was stir-frying, I did smell the fruity nashi flavor a little. Maybe because the alcohol evaporated while being heated? Unfortunately I couldn’t detect the fruity flavor in the chicken when I ate it, but the dish turned out quite good. Honestly, I loved it. It was sweet, but the sweetness was a little different from what it usually is when used sugar and/or mirin only --- it was milder.

Feeling good about this success, and feeling the urge to go out and eat lunch outside in gorgeous autumn weather, I packed my lunch and headed for a nearby park.

photo 3112Kinmokusei (orange osmanthus) was in full bloom there in the park. The weather is certainly cooling off around here. (This photo was taken last Thursday in the same park. The flowers looked just the same today.)

It was a nice day after all, but I’ll be careful next time I infuse vodka with fruits and I'll definitely check it more often ;P


obachan said...

Dear readers,
Sorry! I accidentally deleted this post today. It wasn't me... my fingers did it and they were disconnected from my brain when it happened :O
I was able to restore the post, but lost all the nice comments posted to it. I’m terribly sorry!