The next chapter in my little project is...
Concept 2: High heat develops flavor
Recipe: Teriyaki stir-fried beef with green beans and shiitakes
This chapter was all about the Maillard reaction, which is the caramelization of sugars on the surfaces of meats and vegetables exposed to high cooking temperatures. Many of the recipes in the book were stir-fries, so I picked one that sounded the best to me. (The other two have snap peas and snow peas, which aren't my favorite.)
I got a lovely steak from my farmers market butcher and sliced it thin, marinated it in soy sauce, and then fried in oil. You set that aside and then cook the mushrooms and green beans, then add some minced garlic and ginger. It was very fragrant at this point! I was worried I'd burn things, but I didn't.
After cooking the green beans at a high temperature to achieve the crispy Maillard reaction on the outside, I added some water to steam the beans for a few minutes just to get them cooked through. Then you add the beef back in, along with some chopped scallions and a sauce you make with chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, cornstarch (for thickening), and red pepper flakes. Cook a few minutes, tossing to coat:
A stir fry is a beautiful thing! I wasn't sure how much I would like this recipe from the smell, given my aversion to teriyaki for being too sweet at times. But once I started eating it, I knew it was a great recipe. It was deeply savory and satisfying.
It is also worth noting that I tried a new way of making rice, which was suggested by another recipe in the book. The Cooks Illustrated folks recommend rinsing the rice, which I never bother with. Then you cook the rice in a bit of butter before you boil it. This is all detailed in a chapter entitled, "Rinsing (Not Soaking) Makes Rice Fluffy." That's concept 30 and it comes later, so I won't get into it now. However, the rice was pretty much perfect, so I guess the Cooks Illustrated people know what they're doing.
The next chapter is on resting meat to maximize the juiciness of the cut. My plan is to make the maple-glazed pork roast, but I won't make it for a few days because wow, do I have leftovers right now. But I look forward to the roast.