Scrounging for Dinner Again

January 4, 2010

The snow came down all day, the wind howled, the drifts mounted around the house.  Three weather advisories warned us not to leave unless absolutely necessary. I stayed put.

But a second day of scrounging through the refrigerator found it considerably barer. Happily I came upon a piece of flank steak in the freezer, a jar of kimchee (how old, I wonder?) and a single sad head of butter lettuce. Visions of Bulgogi danced in my head.

It was, perhaps, my favorite meal all week.  And simple!  Here's a kind of recipe, but use your imagination.

Take 1/2 pound beef of some sort – you could use just about anything – slice it across the grain as thinly as you possibly can, and plunk it into the following marinade.

soy sauce  – 2 tablespoons or so
a couple of cloves of smashed garlic
a small knob of ginger, minced
whites of 2 or 3 scallions, minced
a big spoonful of sugar
a splash of sesame oil

Leave it to soak up the flavors for 15 minutes or so while you separate the leaves from their head of lettuce, put a pot of rice on to cook, and rummage through your cupboards to see if there's anything that you would like to add. You're going to wrap the beef and rice into little lettuce packets, and many accompaniments suggest themselves: Kimchee is a good start, Sriracha sauce is imperative in my mind, sliced cloves of raw garlic would be nice, as would shredded carrots or toasted sesame seeds (should you happen to have some lying around).

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a sheen of oil, wait until it shimmers and then cook the meat, stirring, for about 4 minutes.  Plunk it onto one platter, the lettuce on another and the rice into a bowl. Set them all onto a table, along with whatever else you've found, and let everyone make his own deliciously savory little wraps. No forks necessary.

This is enough to fortify a couple of people on a cold winter night. Eating it before a roaring fire makes it even better.

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  • Magic from scrounging!!!
    It’s the vision for seeing the possibilities that I lack.
    But, I won’t say it won’t come.
    I can now come closer to cooking this way than I ever have in my life. It takes a certain amount of confidence and boldness, I think, and the longer I cook, the more I gain, even if it kinda goes against my nature to be a risk taker.

  • Margo Hackett says:

    This is delicious. I make it all the time. Sometimes in a pan on the stove. Sometimes on the grill and slice it afterward. We made it with beef and fat pork chops the other night on the grill. I think chicken would be great if not overdone. I found it in Ruth’s “My Kitchen Year….How 165 recipes saved my life.” I lived one of those years a bunch of times.. I read it. from cover to cover, over and over and her other books too. We lived in Berkeley the same time as Ruth (plus 30 years) a few blocks away, I feel like she’s my secret sister I never met.
    If you can cook, and go to the market, and bring people together, with delicious food and some good wine (doesn’t need to be expensive, life get better. That’s what Ruth teaches us.