I hate to bitch about mud again, but it comes this time every year, so think of this post as a King family holiday special, or try to visualize Perry Como, sunk to his meaty breasts at Woodstock.
This one has a cooking segment because it is just too damned bleak outdoors. Every time I step out there to feed the animals they wail with reproof: Why you brang us here?
I got no answer, but I got a recipe for Szechuan pancakes that worked out pretty good. I also cooked a filling that might have one ingredient that’s difficult to obtain, but you can probably improvise something with actual meat, or even scrambled eggs.
The one item you are unlikely to find easily is a vegetarian steak manufactured by the good folks at Delight Soy in Morrisville, NC. It really doesn’t taste like steak, but the texture is remarkably similar to a cheaper cut of beef. It even sticks between your teeth the same way. Adding a little Maggi or soy sauce during cooking helps to brown it, and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper finishes it up nicely. We had some red potatoes in the cabinet that I’d almost completely forgotten, so I decided to incorporate the ones that hadn’t developed the moist, translucent caul that you might occasionally see on the drowned. I think the technical term for it might be adipocere. You want to get that off of them if you’re going to eat them (Potatoes).
I found a recipe for Szechuan style potatoes several years ago, and can’t vouch for its authenticity, but the incorporation of either prickly ash oil or milled Szechuan peppercorns makes them close enough for government work. Besides, this being January, you’re going to need all the carbohydrates you can get.
It was surprisingly tasty, and my initial reservations about using collard leaves in the stir-fry were misplaced.

For the pancakes
2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 large onion, or 3/4 cup diced scallions
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
freshly ground black pepper
a cup or so of boiling water
organic sesame oil for frying

Halve the onion and slice in thin sections, then slice perpendicularly to mince. Add to flour, along with salt and ground Szechuan pepper.
To this mixture add the boiling water and stir until it forms a more or less cohesive ball. You can drizzle a little sesame oil on it at this point to keep it from drying out while it rests for three hours in the refrigerator (or a kitchen that never seems to get much over 40 degrees).
Roll it out onto a heavily floured board to a 1/4 inch thickness, and dust with black pepper, Use an 8 inch pan lid to cut the pancakes from the dough mass.
Heat a skillet briefly over high heat before adding half a cup of sesame oil. Drop the pancakes in and brown thoroughly on each side before placing in foil or a sealed Pyrex dish.

For the filling
2 cups Delite soy beef-style or thinly sliced beef
1/2 large onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons prickly ash oil or ground Szechuan peppercorns
2 large potatoes, sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
Maggi or tamari sauce
Four or five collard leaves, stemmed and sliced into strips.
Xiaoxing rice wine, sherry, or whatever wine you’re having.
1/2 cup sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Bake the potato strips in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for twenty minutes.
Marinade your steak product in a little tamari and rice wine while you stir fry the alium and collard leaves in a wok or skillet.
Remove the vegetables from the heat and fry the steak in sesame oil, adding black pepper, prickly ash oil, and Maggi sauce toward the end of cooking.
Return the vegetables to the heat, adding steak and potatoes, until the grease is uniformly sopped up.

Serve with pancakes and diced omelet.

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