Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Watercress with Thai-Inspired Black Bean-Ginger Stew

My friend Joe was visiting this weekend, and on Sunday he and I went to the Hollywood Farmers Market.  Without the guiding discipline of the CSA box, we wandered about, and I bought several really exciting things before I realized I'd gotten almost nothing of food value: sage smudges to burn, raw honey, a basil plant to replace the one I killed... such fun!  Lacking vegetables, I did buy watercress, too.

How could I have forgotten you, watercress?  You, like arugula, flapjacks, and Indian food, made me excited to eat food in cloudy, not-always-delicious England.  You are spicy and refreshing.

By the time I got around to using this watercress today, however, it was a little wilty.  Better to cook it than eat it raw now, I thought.  So I remembered a dish I'd had at a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood that was watercress and black bean sauce.  Neither this watercress, nor the sauce I made, were anything like what I had at the restaurant, but it was really good nevertheless.  I lightly fried the watercress--really fried, not the kind of saute/braise thing I usually do with water or tamari--and it was heavenly.  The "sauce" ended up being more of a stew; you could eat it as a main dish over rice.  I think the combination of honey, ginger, and sesame in a savory dish was what made it pretty special, but you could also use agave or brown sugar dissolved in water.

Thai-Inspired Black Bean-Ginger Stew over Fried Watercress with Short Brown Rice

Thai-Inspired Black Bean-Ginger Stew
(adapted from Tastebook)

canola oil
1-2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1-2 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 serrano chili, minced (or less--this was quite spicy!)
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/3 TB honey
1 TB cider vinegar
1/4-1/2 c vegetable stock
1 can (1.5 c) black beans
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB water
2 tsp sesame oil
salt and cayenne to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, chili, and carrot, and saute for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add liquids and beans, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Mix together cornstarch and water separately before adding it to the stew.  Add sesame oil, and taste before adding salt and cayenne (I didn't add either).  Serve warm over greens and/or rice.  Serves 2-3.

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