Holiday meals have been pretty rote in the Roe household for most of the decades I’ve been attending them. Christmas and Thanksgiving have always involved some combination of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, creamed onions, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin cake. Various jello salads (better than you’d assume) have made appearances over the years as well, and that’s pretty much it. My parents are economists: Innovation is an object for suspicion.
But as relatives have passed away, moved, or decided they don’t like us anymore, the holiday table has shrunk, and we’ve finally started making some tweaks to the menu. Nothing radical, but a new dish is making an appearance every now and again.
This has, on the whole, been a good thing, but a few years ago, my parents found a recipe for a sort of casserole involving broccoli, water chestnuts, cream of mushroom soup, and cheddar cheese. They love it, but I find it, to quote the bard, “gross.”
Last year, I made my feelings on the matter perfectly clear, but my juvenile grousing and face-making only irritated my parents and failed to remove the loathsome casserole from the menu. So this year, I wised up and came out swinging: Armed with a clean and simple recipe for broccoli with garlic and ginger, I proposed to make the green vegetable this year.
“Oh don’t worry about buying the water chestnuts,” I said schemingly, “just leave the broccoli to me…”
A wok is handy for this dish, but if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. I am torn on whether or not to precook the broccoli at all before stir frying. I think the ideal would be just to blanche it very quickly and then stop the cooking in an ice bath, but that feels like a lot of trouble for a bit of broccoli. The broccoli will cook through just fine without any precooking; just be sure not too crowd the pan too much and give it more than five minutes if necessary.
Don’t fret about making “very thin matchsticks” from the ginger. A fine chop will do the trick.
As for the sauce, mix it as directed, but start off by just adding about half to the saute pan the go from there by taste. I think the ratio here is way too sauce heavy, and as is so often the case, it’s easy to add more sauce, very hard to take it away. “Seasoned” rice vinegar is just rice vinegar that has been sweetened with sugar. You can use regular rice vinegar and just add your own sugar.
You can enjoy this dish with a holiday meal or at any other day of the year where you’re not eating a casserole you don’t like.
Ginger and Garlic Broccoli
Gourmet – February 1995
Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.
Yield: Serves 2
1 small bunch broccoli (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons very thin matchsticks of peeled fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, sliced thin
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
seasoned rice vinegar
Cut broccoli into 1-inch flowerets. Trim and peel stems and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
In a 10-inch heavy skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and cook gingerroot and garlic, swirling skillet occasionally, until just golden. With a slotted spoon transfer gingerroot and garlic to paper towels to drain.
Add broccoli to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until browned well, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl stir together water, soy sauce, and vinegar. Add mixture to skillet and cook until most liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Serve broccoli sprinkled with gingerroot and garlic.