Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dry-Cooked String Beans (Page 523)

  • Date: Friday, January 11, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Kitchen: Vigleik and Shihchi's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Vigleik
  • Dining Companion: Shihchi
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I chose this recipe to make with dinner at V and Shihchi's place because it calls for a wok, which they have and I don't (yes, I do exploit my friends for their cooking equipment!). This recipe was truly strange in the following respect: the green beans were deep-fried and then stir-fried. Why? Well, I'm not really sure. The Book claims it locks in their bright-green color and intensifies the flavor. I can't dispute that it did do wonders for their color. But the flavor? I could detect no effect. The downside was that it made the green beans overcooked and mushy. I couldn't help but think that the recipe would be hugely improved by eliminating the deep-frying step. To be fair, we used very thin green beans. Maybe with thicker ones they would be able to withstand the deep-fry followed by the stir-fry. I don't know. It was sad that the beans were mushy, because other than that the dish was delicious! The sauce had a fantastic flavor and the pork was a great complement to the beans. I was so taken by the flavors in this dish that I was particularly frustrated by the poor texture. I may try this one again with some nice fat green beans sometime and see if it helps. Maybe I will also take out the deep-frying. I have hope that this recipe could be something truly excellent with a little tweaking.

This recipe isn't online.

As I am a math academic, many of my closest friends are too. This time of year is a stressful one for the young academic crowd, as this is job season. I have myself a job, which I love, for two and a half more years, so I am not on the job market this year. My special gentleman friend is though, and many, many other people that I know. In math the academic job thing has two phases if you want to be employed at a research university. Out of graduate school you apply for post-doc jobs, which tend to be three years (this is what I am doing now). The last year of your post-doc you apply for tenure-track jobs. Both of these processes are miserable. The latter is worse I think, as it is more competitive, and there is more at stake. I'm not to that point yet, and I can tell you that I am not looking forward to it. Now is about the time when the tenure-track jobs are interviewing and making offers. In a few weeks the post-doc offers will also come out. So pretty much everyone is a wreck. This year someone started a Math Jobs Wiki to gather rumors about who is being interviewed where, etc... There is some controversy about whether or not this is a good idea. I like it (but I'm not on the job market...). One thing is for sure: the wiki fuels anxiety. In four to six weeks most of these job things will be settled, and the young math academics can relax again. I look forward to everyone being calmer, and I hope that it all works out wonderfully for my various friends who are looking for a job!

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