7.31.16 Hitting the Sauce
July almost got away without a single post from me but here I'm squeaking in under the wire! It's been a busy summer so far and I'm not going to pretend it was exclusively devoted to perfect moments like these (thanks for the reference, Janet), though I have swum in the lake several times, cooked pulled pork for 80 friends, eaten way too many ice cream sandwiches, served drinks at the first Fish & Bicyle pop-up and, thus far, avoided Lyme disease. As in years past, my plan is to take a break from social media—including Facebook, Instagram and my blog—for the entire month of August. It's hard to believe that starts tomorrow. Maybe you'd like to do the same? I can't guarantee it will mean more time in the hammock for me, but it just might. Let me know how you're planning to spend your August. I'm hoping you'll find time to make this ginger-scallion sauce. It comes together quickly and sits in the fridge waiting to be spooned over poached chicken, steamed fish or dumplings; stirred into hot rice; slathered on grilled anything; or smeared on a summer roll.
Leeks, scallions and onions are being pulled by your farmers now, so take advantage. It's easy to simply gloss over those big bunches of scallions with their bushy greens that seem destined for the trash/compost pile, but Francis Lam's recipe for ginger-scallion sauce will make you see them in a whole new light. (It first appeared in Salon.) You can even watch him make it here.
The sauce is just ginger, scallions, salt and oil. Simple and perfect. Have you learned the trick of peeling your ginger with a spoon? I use a grapefruit spoon; those little serrated teeth work wonders.
Use your food processor to mince chunks of the peeled ginger, then pieces of scallion, including the greens (be sure they're fresh and vigorous).
Combine the ginger and scallions in a large heatproof bowl, because the next step is to pour some hot oil on top. (Do I need to remind you to use good-quality oil? I recommend expeller-pressed sunflower or maybe grapeseed. No canola, please, since 80% of it is produced from GMO plants.) It bubbles and hisses like crazy—which is very satisfying because it's like cooking without actually having to do anything. And that's it. After the sauce cools, transfer it to a jar and then to the fridge, where it waits to be of service. A little goes a long way but it's so good that I often double the recipe.
This ginger-scallion sauce is an important member of my condimental cannon. Thank you, cooks of southern China, from whence it came. Thank you, Francis Lam, for this entertainingly written recipe. Thank you, faithful reader, for meeting me back here in September. Until then, stay cool, be well and, when all else fails, go jump in the lake! xoxo
Recipe by Francis Lam
- — 1 ounce ginger, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
- — 1 bunch (about 4 ounces) whole scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
- — 1/2 cup oil, preferably peanut or corn (Avoid olive oil and definitely no canola, which, when heated like this, smells like a fish. And not in a good way.)
- — Salt
Whirl the ginger in a food processor until it’s finely minced, but not puréed (meaning stop before it gets liquidy and pasty). Put it in a wide, tall, heatproof bowl, several times bigger than you think you need. For real. The bowl matters. Use a cooking pot if you have to, because when that oil gets in there, the sizzle is going to be serious business.
Mince the scallions in the food processor until they’re about the same size as the ginger. Add it to the ginger.
Salt the ginger and scallion like they called your mother a bad name and stir it well. Taste it. It won’t taste good because that much raw ginger and scallion doesn’t really taste good, but pay attention to the saltiness. You want it to be just a little too salty to be pleasant, because you have to account for all the oil you’re about to add.
Heat the oil in a pan until you just start seeing wisps of smoke, and pour it into the ginger scallion mixture. It’s going to sizzle and bubble like a science-fair volcano, and it’s going to smell awesome. Don’t stick your face in it. You wouldn’t stick your face in lava, would you? Give it a light stir with a heatproof spoon.
Let cool to room temperature. Keep it in the fridge, for whenever you want to be one spoonful away from deliciousness.