Friday, October 01, 2004

The Joys of Cooking from the Comics

My spare time (such as it is) is being sucked away by a Game Boy Advance game called "Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction," but I plan to tear myself away from the game long enough tomorrow to make something called Green Pepper Beef.

Sounds easy, no? Except that this particular recipe for Green Pepper Beef comes from a comic book -- a Japanese manga called Iron Wok Jan.

I've made recipes from the comics before. A couple of years ago DC Comics published "Ollie's Stupendous Chili Recipe" in Green Arrow Secret Files & Origins #1 (later reprinted in the paperback collection Green Arrow: Straight Shooter). I won't reproduce the text here, but I'll admit I had to adapt it a little; apart from mail order you can't get Gebhardt Chili Powder in Canada, so I wound up substituting. It turned out surprisingly well, though I'll conceded I haven't tried feeding it to anyone else. (I have a pretty high tolerance for hot peppers.)

Anyway, this particular recipe is from Vol. 6, in which the title character Jan attempts to teach his clueless assistant how to cook a restaurant-quality stir-fry. I say "restaurant-quality" because artist-creator Shinji Saijyo illustrated as the first step a pre-oiling of the wok -- something I've never seen in any Chinese cookbook. Saijyo's explanation of the process looks reasonable enough, but I still have my doubts.

The recipe calls for beef in a marinade of salt, pepper, water, baking soda, egg, cornstarch and oil. Vegetables include shredded mushrooms (I'll assume it's oyster mushrooms) and green peppers, and the sauce includes soy sauce, scallions (green onions), broth and cornstarch. Saijyo's illustrations of the steps look promising enough, so we'll see how things go.

I remember back in elementary school that Scholastic published a cookbook featuring the Peanuts characters. And there's a couple of recipes for soup in Anne Guisewaite's Motherly Advice from Cathy's Mom. So many kids these days, especially boys, aren't really motivated to use the kitchen beyond the microwave. I think cooking from the comics would make a good starting point to show kids around a kitchen -- before they do the home ec course.

And before you ask: my mouth isn't big enough to attempt to eat a Dagwood sandwich.