Published: February 12th 2013February 12th 2013
Starting the chili
Spending China's biggest holiday alone feels quite miserable, honestly. The only tiny perk is that I get to eat "weird" things that are so "normal" to me. Nanchang food is not really "normal" to me, and I'm often craving the Korean and American cuisine that I'm so used to.
To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of American food either, but suddenly very normal things like butter and cheese are nowhere to be found, and making "normal" food is quite a challenge even with the McCormick's spice stash I brought from Chicago.
Like mashed potatoes with butter.
Or vegetable soup.
My favorite thing to make would be chicken corn soup, Amish-style. But today I thought I'd try chili. Hearty chili on a cold day... a simple pleasure of life. I'm even willing to settle for the trashy three-ingredient kind- beef, canned tomatoes, canned beans. No expectations of anything gourmet or cute extras like sour cream dollops, nacho chips, etc. But yeah, we're in Nanchang and I have no access to ground beef, canned tomatoes, OR canned beans.
So my revised ingredient list is: pork, fresh tomatoes, onion (purple, no less), garlic, spices, and dried red
About a half-hour in
kidney beans. And hopefully some luck.
I bought a small cut of lean pork and a handful of ground pork, because the ground pork is really fatty. I wasn't sure how I'd be mincing the pork filet, but two knives and a hundred loud whacks later, I had acceptable results. I did this while soaking the beans, about three or four large handfuls. Then I sauteed the pork with garlic, drained off the fat, and added two small diced onions.
I was most apprehensive about the tomatoes. Canned tomatoes seem really red, concentrated, and come with lots of juice. My tomatoes weren't very red, and when I cut and added them to the pork mix, the juice looked like clear water. I actually bought 3 jin (almost 4 lb) of tomatoes, because I anticipated having to boil them down. Adding no water, I threw in the soaked beans, a tiny dash of cumin, salt, a half-T of sugar, some chicken bouillion, a leftover red pepper, and let it simmer on low heat. Anxiously.
About a half-hour later I could see that it was actually starting to resemble chili.
Over two hours later, the final result was
pretty exciting. Like sandwich-shop chili. I definitely made too much- enough for about six people- but the whole shebang cost me about 25 RMB.
I wonder what the bf would think. Maybe he'd consider it "sauce". Chinese soups are often watery and bland, meant to wash down dinner (especially the spicy kind). Maybe he'd eat chili over rice, Southern-US-style?