Broccoli in garlic sauce | incidentally vegan | Chinese-American inspired

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1 medium-large crown of broccoli (about 12 oz, 340g)
3-4 garlic cloves
1 small thumb of ginger (about the same amount as the garlic)
1/2 a small fresh chili (or throw the whole thing in)
1 cup water or stock or reserved broccoli water (see below)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup (60mL) soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (or white sugar + a dab of molasses, or honey)
2 teaspoons mustard
2-3 tablespoons Marmite (or oyster sauce)
1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons cornstarch (or any refined starch)
MSG to taste (salt would be fine)
any cooking oil
sesame seeds for garnish (very optional)
1 cup (200g) white rice (dry)

Wash and drain the rice, combine it with 1.75x the volume of plain water in a pot, bring to a boil uncovered and cook until the water level goes just below the surface of the rice. Cover, reduce the heat to low and let cook for 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Turn the heat off but leave the lid on as it rests until you eat. Fluff before serving.

(Or make your rice however you want — there’s literally no way I can make rice on the internet that won’t make people angry, so I just try it a different way every time.)

While you’re getting the rice going, peel and chop the garlic and ginger with the chili.

Put a steamer basket at the bottom of a big pot and put in enough water to come up to the basket. Cover the pot, put the heat on high and bring the water to a boil. (If you don’t have a steamer, you can boil the broccoli instead.)

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. When the steamer is steaming, throw in all the broccoli, cover, and get a big bowl of ice water ready. When the broccoli has steamed for three minutes (maybe 3:30 if you’re boiling instead of steaming), pull it out and dump it immediately into the ice water. Stir it around until the pieces have all cooled down. They should feel a little undercooked at this stage.

If you want, save 1 cup (237mL) of the green steamer water to use in the sauce. Once the pot is empty and dry, return it to the burner and put your heat on medium.

Coat the pan with a thin film of oil (NOT the sesame oil), throw in the garlic, ginger and chili, stir and fry for a couple minutes until soft. Put in the cup of water (or stock or reserved broccoli water), soy sauce, sugar, mustard, Marmite, sesame oil, onion powder and a few grinds of pepper.

While that’s simmering, dissolve the cornstarch in just enough water to make a thick slurry. While one hand stirs, use the other hand to drizzle in slurry until you get a very thick consistency — you might not need all of the slurry.

Taste the sauce, consider adding MSG (or salt) or more of any of the other sauce ingredients it might need. Remember that the broccoli and rice are totally unseasoned, so the sauce needs to be strong enough and salty enough to flavor both itself and the broccoli and rice, i.e. too strong on its own. The texture should be very thick, because the broccoli will water it down a little. The sauce is easy to burn when it’s this thick, so you might want to turn the heat down (or off).

Pull the broccoli out of the water, drain it thoroughly and toss it in the sauce until warm and coated. You can stir in water if the sauce is too thick. Dish out the rice, serve the broccoli and extra sauce on top, optionally garnish with sesame seeds.


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