Anger Burger

Whitey Sweet and Sour Plus Some Crap You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I am going to say up front that I am not 100% sure this is a thing worth the trouble.  Wait, let’s go back a little.

Nearly three years ago my mom told me that she saw a TV show wherein Ruth Reichl, ex-NYT-food-reviewer and writer extraordinaire, makes sweet and sour pork with the exquisitely exotic-sounding osmanthus flower.  My mom was captivated, because what fool wouldn’t be?  The thing is, the recipe is otherwise unremarkable.  Or rather: remarkably bland-sounding; it consists of nothing more than sliced pork, black fungus (which tastes like is sounds) and a tangy-sweet syrup.  The longer I mused on it the less appetizing it sounded.

Except for the single star of the show, osmanthus.

I let it percolate in my brain for a few years, until a few months ago when I was in Seattle and wondered past a little Chinatown tea shop that sold bulk osmanthus, and then it all came drifting into place.  The smell is what got me: it smells like apricots.  Like fruity, warm, orange-yellow light, summery and evanescent.

Instead of Reichl’s recipe, I added it to my solid many-years-tested sweet and sour recipe.  Instead of making a syrup, I steeped it straight into the pineapple juice I use as the primary liquid.

I love my sweet and sour, but Mike the Viking does not and therefore I rarely cook it.  He claims it is all vinegar, I claim he is a buttface.  We are at a standstill.

But the addition of osmanthus?  A fleeting, minuscule whiff of it survives cooking.  It is lost amongst the strong flavors, and though I still won’t make the recipe from Reichl’s TV show, I understand now why there are essentially no other ingredients involved.  Meanwhile, my standard sweet-and-sour recipe remains a paragon of whitey-Chinese, and I implore you to try it.  It is, admittedly, very tangy and not very sweet, but as it should be.  If it is a little too sharp for you, add a little more sugar and ketchup to balance it out, but as I make it, it is refreshing, nutritious and light, not the sugary loogie you get from cheap Chinese take-out¹.

Don’t skip the tomatoes stirred in at the end, either.  It is one of my favorite parts of the recipe, the way they remain intact and uncooked, but just warmed through.  The usual caveats apply to the rest of the ingredients: chicken breast will be dry and sad, but whatever, I’m not the boss of you.  I prefer chicken over pork, but even tofu is good (though I vote for the fried stuff).  Any vegetable works, but I have never beat the combination of green bell pepper, onions and carrots.  It is what it is, and for me, it is perfect.

Whitey Sweet and Sour
in the scheme of things it really isn’t that whitey of a recipe.  i mean, it isn’t neon pink and made almost entirely from high fructose corn syrup, but it is made from pineapple juice and ketchup.  for the pineapple juice, i usually buy a large can of pineapple chunks and use the juice from the whole can, but only HGH about half of the actual pineapple pieces. and then i eat the rest of the can of pineapple while i am cooking, but that is a side story.  if you don’t want actual pineapple pieces in your food, buy a can of pineapple juice, because the recipe still needs that tangy fruity flavor. lastly, osmanthus can be found online and at Chinese teashops, if you are lucky enough to live near one. Reichl advises using chamomile if you can’t get osmanthus, which is an interesting suggestion, but part of me just wants to tell you to use some apricot nectar instead of pineapple juice. TOO MANY IDEAS.  i will shut up now.

2 Lbs. cubed boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 carrot, sliced thin, diagonal if you’re fancy
1 tomato cubed
1/2 cup pineapple chunks

1 scant cup pineapple juice **see note
2 – 3 heaping Tablespoons of osmanthus flowers
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar or more to taste
1 Tablespoon finely diced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons corn starch

rice for serving

**Note: if you use a can of pineapple chunks for the juice, it will not produce a full cup.  It will be a little shy of a cup.  That is okay, keep going as planned.

  • Heat the pineapple juice to a simmer (microwave is easiest, unless you’re against mutant pineapple juice, in which case on the stovetop in a small saucepan is the way to go) and steep the osmanthus flowers in it until the pineapple juice has cooled, about 10 minutes.  Squeeze the remaining juice from the filter/teabag and discard the flowers. TEABAG!  Haha!
  • In a medium saucepan, over high heat briefly sauté the chicken pieces until they are browned on a few sides, but still have visible pink flesh.  This will take 3-5 minutes.  Add the green pepper, onion and carrot, and lower the heat to medium and allow it all to cook together for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and cornstarch together and set it aside.
  • In the pot with the chicken and vegetables, add the remaining ingredients of the sauce: osmanthus pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, brown sugar, and ginger.  Let everything bubble over medium heat until it is as cooked as you like.  I prefer my veggies pretty crisp, which means they are done cooking in 3 or 4 minutes.  If you like yours soft, let them continue to cook a few minutes longer.  When you’re happy with it, add the soy sauce and corn starch mixture, stirring rapidly as you pour to incorporate.  Let it bubble and brap until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add the diced tomato and pineapple pieces and stir to combine.  Eat it.

¹ I have a friend that called cheap Chinese sweet and sour “neon abortion”. This turn of phrase has stuck with me over the years, though I cannot now remember who said it. I now pass it along to you, friend. Enjoy.

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3 Posted in Make It So

Now I Have the Energy to Punch Portland in the Face

Posted by on Nov 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I have heard every major city argue that they have a heinous population of hipsters, and that their hipsters are unique and awful.  Brooklyn, San Francisco, Austin; I have lived alongside Los Angeles hipsters, who are a magnificently infuriating sub-species that cannot be reproduced elsewhere, but are nevertheless still just hipsters.  Seattle doesn’t quite show up to the Department of Hipsters Faculty Meeting the way others do, they are stuck in a charming and dated spiral of a post-grunge, lingering goth thing.  But then there is Portland, Oregon.

There is actually a reason for the TV series Portlandia.  It is not inaccurate.  There is a well-educated smugness laying over the city like a vintage Pendleton blanket.  There is a joke/not-joke here about “when Olympia moved to Portland” and indeed, I know a lot of people in Portland whom I knew here, in Olympia, back in the day.  And the one thing they do, in all their vintage boutiquing, chicken cooping, streetside composting, gourmet food trucking bumptiousness that drives me insane is that they never stop talking about how fucking perfect Portland is.

“All I ask for is a decent goddamn donut shop,” I wrote on my Facebook page one day (my private one, not the Anger Burger one – don’t go fact-checking, you’ll be disappointed).  MOVE TO PORTLAND my friend in Portland writes, as though that were helpful¹.  And after complaining about healthier energy drinks, my friend Jason tells me: DRINK VISO.  IT IS MADE IN PORTLAND AND YOU CAN ONLY GET IT IN PORTLAND.  WOE IS THE FOOL THAT CANNOT DRINK VISO.  I may be putting some words in Jason’s mouth, but that is the gist of it.


This last summer I was at a local store and did a double-take at a beverage cooler case.  There on the shelf were three cans of Viso.  I had never seen them before, only heard of them.  And here we were, 120 miles from Portland.  It must be some kind of mistake – surely Portland wouldn’t allow one of its precious products outside the fortress walls?  I bought one, and a few hours later drank it.  And then went back and bought the other two at the store because it was fucking delicious, and asked them when they would be getting more.  Never, they said.  The distributor wasn’t answering their phone calls.  I write Viso and asked them if they were distrubuting to anywhere in Olympia.  They didn’t answer.  I wrote again.  They didn’t answer. Their Facebook page is a sea of crazed Viso fans asking questions, complaining about availability of favorite products, and all without answer from Viso.  As near as I could tell, Viso didn’t really exist.

And then a few days ago it shows up at my local Co-Op.  The label is different, the flavors different.  The flavor I tried before was “Will” a sour cherry and grapefruit flavor, now it is cranberry and grapefruit.  The sugar-free flavors are now stevia instead of sucralose.  So it would appear that Viso has quietly reinvented itself in preparation for — I assume — national distribution, with preliminary accounts in Wholefoods in the Pacific Northwest (in addition to my local Olympia Co-Op).  I certainly don’t recommend ordering from their website, as a case costs $21 with SEVENTEEN DOLLARS SHIPPING.  You are fucking kidding me, you guys.

Speaking of caffeine, each bottle contains 300mg, which is the equivalent of three and a half small cans of Redbull, or between four and five shots of espresso.  So, basically it’s a fucking disaster in a bottle.  And I love it.  The flavors are truly well-balanced: faintly sweet-sour, and bitter and mineral from the caffeine and vitamins.  It’s a poor description, but they taste, well, real.  Like fruit juice and vitamins. And 300mg of caffeine?  Holy shit.  I basically live in an eternal state of sleepiness, like some nodding junky without any of the fun heroin parts.  The last few days of having a Viso around for quick drinks here and there have left me productive and alert.  My god, the possibilities.  I may now have the energy to shower every day!

So, I am sorry if you can’t find it, but I have a hunch that you will be able to within the next year.  Keep a lookout for them and remember after drinking one to take a couple laps around the block just to keep from tearing your own eyelids off.

¹ As an aside, Voodoo Donuts? Total bullshit. I’d rather have a Krispy Kreme served to me by a pleasantly bored teenager after I have stood in line for zero minutes.

11 Posted in Food Rant

Comma Police, Arrest This Girl

Posted by on Nov 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

The great secret not-so-secret novel-editing project is proceeding more or less as planned. Thank you all. With your help, we may get this out just in time for the Mayan Apocalypse. I’m as excited as a little Mayan boy with a bowl full of human hearts. Which is to say: very!

A strange formatting error has been unearthed however. One of the ANGRY BOOKERS violated instructions and checked the formatting on an iPhone. While that is upsetting enough, what is worse is that the formatting is apparently IMPERFECT on the loathsome device. I have a hypothesis, though, so if you are cursed with one of those things and would like to help make some science, speak up.

Otherwise, keep your fingernails shorn and your seax sharp.


Picture Unrelated

7 Posted in Novelry, Uncategorized