I have a couple of announcements; first, I'm going to concentrate on a breakfast and brunch theme to better explain translation and second; I'm working on a book showcasing these concepts within the framework of breakfast. More on that later. Continuing on the Translation subset of substitution, I was reading Fuchsia Dunlop's new cookbook, "Every Grain of Rice - Simple Chinese Home Cooking" with the idea of adapting a Chinese home-style dish for breakfast. I found a recipe for stir-fried eggs with tomato and thought this would be the perfect recipe to show that substitution could be used to enhance a dish. The recipe is basic, perfect for the novice home cook; season and stir-fry the eggs first, then the tomatoes and then combine them together thickening with potato starch if needed. I wanted to add additional flavor to the dish, so I added fresh basil which always goes with tomatoes (Thai basil would even be better) and some five spice powder to enhance the anise notes and to reinforce the Asian theme. I know that I'm not actually making a true substitution, but adding something. The point is to use translation as an avenue to explore exciting new creations to become a more creative chef.
4 - 5 large eggs
4 - 5 firm Campari tomatoes (or another simular small vine ripened tomato)
4 - 6 basil leaves rolled and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)
1 pinch five spice powder
1 pinch sugar
2 - 4 Tbsp. cooking oil
slurry of potato starch and water (optional for thickening)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a wok and add half the oil. Beat the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt and scramble the eggs until just barely done. Remove and reserve. Roll the basil leaves into a cigar shape and with a very sharp knife finely slice into thin ribbons. Slice the tomatoes in half then each half into three wedges. Clean and dry the wok, then heat it on high and add the rest of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes, season with the sugar, salt and pepper to taste and stir-fry until they are hot and fragrant. Add the basil, five spice powder and the eggs back to the wok and stir-fry until mixed together. If the mixture is runny add the potato starch slurry and mix until thickened. Serve immediately to feed two.
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How does a good chef think? What is the creative process a
chef uses to come up with new and exciting dishes? What do I need to know to enable that creative process? These are the questions I want to explore in this series of articles. As a chef and an avid cookbook collector I am drawn towards
ideas and techniques of cooking rather than just a collection of recipes. I believe to grow as a chef, I need to continually learn and hone new techniques along with perfecting each technique I use every day. Whenever I go to a restaurant, whether fine dining, neighborhood pub, avant garde, or even fast food, I continually ask myself how can I do this better, what works and more important, what doesn’t? Feel free to send me comments, ask questions. Together, we can explore and make creative cuisine.
Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.