Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Steak and spaghetti

On Friday night I went out to dinner with Amber. We went to a steak place that is a chain restaurant that specializes in steaks. It is a bit different than steak chains in the US though. Different cuts of steaks have different names here, so you don't see sirloin, ribeye, etc... You see Australian cut, French cut, etc... For side dishes you get either mashed potatoes or pasta, along with a fried egg and usually a soup. You also get one trip to the salad bar where you can fill your tiny bowl with as many of the five vegetables and six fruits they have as you can. I just chose some fruit and saved it for dessert. Actually, for about 40 Yuan (less than $6) it's not too bad.

On Saturday my team at work was support to go to a place near ChengDu to play some laser tag, but we had a lot of rain on Saturday morning so it got postponed. I ended up spending the day doing laundry and playing on the computer. It rained all day, so I didn't go out much and decided to be as lazy as possible. I did get my Ogre Shadowknight to level 30, so he was able to get some nice new shiny plate mail armor! (He's still not as handsome as he likes to think he is)

The weather on Sunday was very nice and I did go out some. Of course, with all the rain the day before all of the mosquitoes were wide awake and looking to feed.... on me! I got bit up pretty good, but the nice weather still kept me happy. In the evening Misha came over and I cooked some spaghetti for her. We ate dinner and watched the movie Casablanca, which she had never seen before. Unfortunately she had to leave with about 15 minutes left to go in the movie, so I lent her my DVD so she could watch the ending when she had time.

Misha trying on my cowboy hat

I realized I have never posted a recipe for spaghetti here. Mostly it is because my recipes for spaghetti sauce tend to vary a lot depending on the ingredients I can get at the time. This batch of spaghetti sauce came out really good this time so I thought I would share it...

Ingredients -

1 lbs lean ground pork
1 (1 lb) can tomato sauce
1 yellow or white onion, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 large mushroom caps, chopped
8 to 10 olives, sliced
1 cup carrot, grated
2 cups water
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried red chili, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
2 bay leaves

Notes about the ingredients...
- I found these at a variety of places here in ChengDu (Sabrina's, Metro, Carrefour, etc...).
- The mushrooms were a gift from Reese's mother and came from Hunan Province. They are large dried mushrooms, so they have to soak in water overnight, and then after removing the stems I cut the caps into quarter-inch pieces. Wash well with cold water.
- I used ground pork instead of ground beef, since beef is sweeter and the pork seems to go with tomato sauce better. Pork is also easier to find here than ground beef also.
- The dried herbs should be crumbled in your hands to release their flavor as you add them to the dish.

Directions -

Cook ground pork in a large skillet/wok/pot until almost browned. Drain most of the grease.

Add olive oil, onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrot and worcestershire sauce. Cook on medium heat until pork is browned, and onions and peppers are soft.

Add garlic and olives and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and allow to simmer uncovered for more than 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer the better. If the sauce starts to get too thick then you can add a little water and stir well. Cover skillet/wok/pot and let simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

That's it! Cook the pasta of your choice, throw on a little parmesan cheese if you want, find some good bread, open a bottle of red wine, and enjoy!


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