Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I shall call this recipe Memento Mori Chicken. Perhaps Suicide Chicken would be better.

As we learned from my last kitchen adventure, cooking is something I should only do under adult supervision.

So I recruited some, in the form of my close friend Rachel. Another friend, Sarah, also tagged along, although she demurred from participating in the cooking, since she claims she can't cook at all. She was, however, obviously lying, since her role was to participate in the following dialogue, repeated several times:

Paul: "How do you do X?"
Rachel: "Well, Y."
Sarah (obviously shocked): "You don't know how to do X?"

Sarah is on the left, Rachel the right.

Today, the mission was chicken stir-fry, over, yes, more pasta. (Whenever I cook, pasta is involved.) We used Rachel's ridiculously over-stocked kitchen

primarily because mine is, uh, out of commission at the moment.

Unfortunately, because Rachel is a little less obsessive than am I about capturing all of the details of the cooking, and some things whizzed by before I could capture them (i.e., the bits she was too impatient to wait for me to do, grr, mostly including chopping vegetables), the photographic record is a little incomplete, as are some of the details.



Chicken -- which scared the crap out of me, because I've never cooked chicken before (like a packet of it).
Little baby onions
Garlic (like a whole clove)
Portabello mushrooms (little ones, something like 6 of them)
A packet of random-ass noodles
Various Asian grocery-ey sorts of ingredients, like soy sauce, sesame oil, and something called guizhow black bean chilli sauce.


1. wash chicken

"Wash," here, means "rinse." I confess, I don't understand why cooking people never just say "rinse." Possibly, they mean to give the impression of greater cleanliness, and hence slightly lower probability of instant death, than is warranted.

2. Cut the chicken up into "slightly larger than bite-size pieces," painstakingly removing the fat in the process. Pray you don't have some open wound on your hands, to allow the death to enter your bloodstream.

3. Marinate it. "Marinating it" means put it in a bowl and put a bunch of stuff on it. In this case, the bunch of stuff was the soy sauce, the freakey guizhow stuff, and about half of the chopped garlic. (You HAVE chopped the garlic already, right?) Some quantity of the soy sauce that looks like squirting it on for a bit was used, and slightly more than half a spoonful of the freaky guizhow stuff. Also salt and pepper.

Then stir it up with a fork. Give the fork to some ethnic minority that you want to cleanse via e.coli, kinda like the flu blankets, but more virulent.

4. Some point in there, put the water to boil by putting the stove top on high. (Apparently, one generally boils things on high). When it boils, fling the pasta in. Cover it not quite all the way:

Ignore it, except panicking when it boils over, at which point you take the cover off and say the Chant Against Exploding Pots, whereupon it stops. Or a demon comes out and eats you, if you get the stressed syllables wrong.

(Apparently, stuff heats faster when covered. Keep your physics off my body.)

5. Chop the vegetables in some fashion as yet unclear. The mushrooms are to be chopped in such a way that ordinary mathematics cannot express it. (Non-euclidian geometry may be involved in some fashion. Also H.P. Lovecraft novels.)

The following dialogue should accurately transmit the information about how to cut the mushrooms. The relevant backstory is that I was told to cut them into quarters, so, well, I did so.

Rachel: "Those pieces are too big."
Paul: "They're quarters."
Rachel: "They need to be in half quarters."
Paul: "You mean eighths."
Rachel: "No, I mean thinner quarters -- if you'd just gone and cut them into eighths it wouldn't have been right."
Paul: "They weren't right when I cut them into quarters! Like you said!"

I know that at least one reader will understand my horror at the irrational and non-scientific nature of the mystery quarters and their appearance in cooking instructions.

6. Put a very small amount of olive oil on the bottom of a wok, then put everything other than the pasta in. (The pasta is still boiling, remember? You have checked the pasta, right? Oh shit, the pilot light's gone out on your oven because the pasta boiled over! Evacuate and call the fire department!) Apparently the veggies go first. Put more pepper on top.

7. Cover the stir fry. Cook. Stir periodically. Apparently one benefit of marinating is it adds a little extra liquid so the stir fry doesn't burn so readily.

8. As things become done, stop cooking them.

PASTA: the package says 6-8 minutes. Yummy.

CHICKEN: It will never be done. When you eat it, you will die. But that is just what happens when you cook poultry. Keep a stiff upper lip. (The rest of you will be stiff before long.)

Alternatively, you can use The Secret. First, you visualize the cooking being done...

No, ok, that's the wrong secret. The real secret?

If the chicken has some red in it it, kind of like a living being, sort of a reddish undertone, and you eat it, you will die.

On the other hand, if the chicken is white all the way through, and you eat it, you will die. But not from the chicken. Unless you've angered the gods by failing to do the Ritual Against E.Coli properly. You do know the Ritual Against E.Coli, right?

I can't tell you.

It's secret.



The non-death chicken photo is blurry because the gods intervened to ruin the photo in order to ensure that people will always remain uncertain.

One reason you stir when frying apparently is so the chicken gets cooked all over, so turn those bits over a lot. Or you will die.

When you think it's done, take a sample: cut a piece of chicken with a spatula and see the color, as above. Look at the large pieces, because they cook slower. Do not look at the small pieces, because they will give you a false positive, and then you will die.

Take a big bowl.

Put the pasta in the bowl.

Put the stir fry stuff in the bowl.

Add "a dash" of the sesame stuff on top. Apparently, you do not put it on earlier, because it evaporates quickly in heat.

Eat. Nummy nummy.

Go to hospital for e.coli. (Are you catching a theme yet?)

Burn the house down, because you've cooked poultry and so now every surface is covered with disease and death. Fling yourself onto the flames at their hottest, to avoid contaminating the rest of the community.

Despite my constant references to death by e.coli, we haven't lost anyone so far as I know. Also, it tasted good, although the bizarre guizhow stuff was a bit too strong and kind of drowned out everything else.