Except for the time- and ingredient-intensive Vietnamese soups, most of my cooking is pretty simple. Rice, sauteed greens and/or a quick soup, and some kind of meat. While my cooking has certainly improved through the years, getting a basic meal on the table was never a problem.
I won't mention you-know-who and her 30-minute meals and her inane acronyms, except for the fact that a basic meal really doesn't, or shouldn't, take more than half an hour to put together.
Recently, cousin Q's older brother's wife's friend, Cristina of Spaz Attack, ranted about how difficult it was for her to get dinner on the table. Her diatribe was just too funny not to share.
"Cooking is SO OVERRATED! Seriously!!! I HATE cooking. What is the point? From the hour of prep work, to making a mess in the kitchen, to have a house that smells like fish ....after cooking pork! (Whats up with that?), to being away from the boys to cook, to an hour of clean up afterwards.... all for what? To have a meal on the table that no one, I mean, NO ONE, including MYSELF wants to eat? Why not just save all the trouble and get take out or go eat out? To save money? Trust me, I ain't saving a pretty penny by eating at home. I don't get the hype. Who started this hype? Maybe the Supermarkets Association of America? Trying to get our tired asses into their markets to spend our hard earned money on vegetables with hopes that we will whip up some healthy casserole for our families only to see them rot away. I speaking of our vegetables AND our dreams of being Mrs. Cleaver. Whatever, peoples! I'm not going to buy into the hype. EAT OUT! SAVE TIME! SAVE MONEY! SAVE YOUR SANITY!!! DON'T FEEL GUILTY! That stuff in the restaurants are FINE! IT'S STILL FOOD, AIN'T IT? IT'S STILL EDIBLE, RIGHT? I ATE IT MY WHOLE LIFE AND I'M FINE!!!! "Bwhahaha!
Granted, I don't have two little boys running afoot, but instead of looking at my food pictures, just try cooking. It's easy! You don't have to marinate meats ahead of time. You don't have to chop onions and garlic into uniform pieces. Just get in the kitchen and do it.
I'm not trying to make light of her frustration. I've heard from several readers who said they thought cooking was difficult until they started making my recipes. With good results! And the first time they were able to feed their significant others and children filled them with such joy. I love hearing these stories!
I think as women, we're just too hard on ourselves. Cue freshman year Women's Studies and "The Second Shift" by Arlie Hochschild with Anne Machung. While we've made some strides with gender equality, all too often, cooking falls to women. After a long day at work, women have to work a "second shift" to get food on the table, clean the home, and take care of their kids. I hear from enough male readers who are in the kitchen that I know that's not always the case.
Heck, even for single people, sometimes at the end of the day, it's exhausting. But, we all have to eat. Might as well learn how to cook and feed yourself and/or your family too.
Let's start with simple pork chops. A pack of two cost me a little more than $2 so they're cheap. Pan-fry them and you're done in 20 minutes. If you're industrious, make this while Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet) is steaming and you've got rice, meat, and side dish in half an hour.
Com Suon Cha Trung (Vietnamese Rice with Pork Chop and Steamed Egg Omelet)
For 2 pork chops, you'll need:
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp Indonesian Kecap Manis or 1 tsp Chinese Oyster Sauce and 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Serve with Cha Trung (Vietnamese Meatloaf Steamed Egg Omelet)
Finely chop the shallots and garlic. Turn the heat to medium, add a drizzle of oil, and toss in the alliums. Add about 1 tsp of Indonesian kecap manis or Chinese oyster sauce and 1/2 tsp of sugar. I like using kecap manis because it's already sweetened so I don't need to add sugar and it gives a nice color to meats. Add 1 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.
When the shallots have softened, add the meat and the marinade into the pan. No real marination necessary. Don't worry. Twenty minutes of cooking is plenty of time for the pork chops to absorb the marinade.
Add about 1/2 cup water or about halfway up the side of the pork chops.
After 10 minutes, flip.
After 10 more minutes, most of the liquid will be gone.
At this point, I swipe the pork chops around the pan to absorb the marinade and caramelized shallots.
Plate and serve with rice, steamed egg omelet if you made it, and sliced tomatoes or other veggies.
Dinner in less than half an hour.
My other Vietnamese pork dishes:
Suon Kho Xa Gung Toi Ot (Vietnamese Braised Pork Chops with Lemongrass, Ginger, Garlic, and Chilies)
Suon Kho Xi Muoi (Vietnamese Braised Pork Chops with Preserved Plums)
Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu)
Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit)
Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
1 year ago today, Spaghetti alla Bolognese.
2 years ago today, Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cream gravy redux.
3 years ago today, Chicken Fingers for when I don't feel like making a whole meal of Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.