Today I’m happy to bring you a guest post from my friend, Joyce, one of the hard-working moms over at the Busy Mom’s Recipe Box. I am in awe of women like Joyce who work all day and then come home and cook dinner for their families. My mom had dinner on the table promptly at 5:00 every day while I was growing up even though she was often greeted with a chorus of complaints (mostly from my ungrateful, adolescent self). How anyone comes up with ideas of different things to make for dinner every day is beyond me. That’s what makes the Busy Mom’s Recipe Box blog so great. They do the work for us and offer great recipes—many using a crock pot—that have been tested and mom-approved.
“Mommy, wait!” my five-year-old son said the other day. “You forgot to take a picture of our dinner!” I was serving Eckrich Smoked Sausage, Mrs. T’s Pierogies, and canned green beans.
“Um. No. I don’t think I need a picture of this one, buddy,” I responded.
I would hate for anyone to think that I am something that I am not, so I will get this out of the way right off the bat: Despite what my son seems to think, I am not a food photographer. Nor am I a chef or food connoisseur. Though I feel as though I have gotten a bit better at taking pictures of the meals I make since my earliest attempts, I am not sure “food connoisseur” will ever describe me. Case in point: I have a friend who will soon be opening a restaurant with her husband and on their Facebook page they included a picture of the Guanciale they had made for breakfast. Even after seeing the picture, all I could think was, “Guanciale? What the heck is that? I should probably Google it.”
What I am is a busy mom. (Honestly, what mom isn’t busy?!)
I work full time as a teacher. I shuttle my kids to taekwondo and gymnastics and, soon, soccer. I am training to run a half-marathon. No, I do not make gourmet meals designed for the sophisticated pallet. But I do like to make my family a nice variety of healthy meals that are quick and easy.
Typically, if a recipe calls for an odd ingredient that I don’t have or have never had in my pantry, it doesn’t get added to my “must try” recipe list. My pantry holds pretty standard items—pasta, canned diced tomatoes, beans, and cream of mushroom soup. My spice cabinet is equally non-fancy with garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, basil, cinnamon, lemon pepper, and the like.
However, years ago, circa 5 B.C. (five years Before Children), a slightly more adventurous ingredient made its way into my life: hoisin sauce. And I will never go without it again.
If you have used hoisin sauce before, you know what I am talking about. For those of you who are thinking, “hoisin sauce? What the heck is that? I should probably Google it,” let me save you the trouble. Hoisin sauce is a type of Chinese sauce that is used much the same way we use barbecue sauce–as a glaze, in marinades, in stir-fries, and even as a condiment. It is a brown, thick, soybean paste-based sauce that is flavored with garlic, sugar, and spices so that it somehow manages to be sweet, salty, and just the perfect amount of mild spicy all at the same time.
It is delicious. It is amazing. It is something that you must add to your pantry/refrigerator.
A simple way to incorporate hoisin sauce is to spread about a tablespoon on each side of a piece of salmon and pan fry it for about 6 minutes on each side. Voila! Serve it with brown rice and a veggie and you have a simple, healthy, and delicious seafood dish. If you want to kick your sandwich up a notch, try mixing 1 part hoisin sauce with 3 parts of mayo and use as a spread on your favorite sandwich or with shredded chicken for an Asian-inspired spin.
I know how annoying it is to buy an ingredient for one recipe and then never use that ingredient again. Trust me, this one is worth the purchase. Aside from the uses above, there are many recipes to be found online that use hoisin sauce. The one that caused me to fall in love with it, and that is still my absolute favorite, can be found on our Busy Mom’s Recipe Blog today. Stop by for a visit, like us on Facebook, and then fire up those grills for some mouth-watering Asian Pork Chops!
In the meantime, tell us: Do you use hoisin sauce? Or do you have another ingredient in your arsenal that you just could not go without?