The extreme humidity during monsoon season is making my skin break out in rashes so I try to minimize the time I spend hovering over the stove. Turning on the oven is not a good idea either because it just contributes to the stored heat inside the house. So, today’s vegetable dish was neither cooked on the stove nor the oven.
But… five minutes? Really? No kidding. Note, however, that I used haricot verts. Haricot verts cook faster than regular green beans because they are thinner. Prep time is shorter too because there is no need to snip of the ends and string the sides of each pod.
Even if you add the prep time of one minute, this is still a quick and easy dish to make. The haricot verts were rinsed and, while still wet, dumped into a microwave safe bowl and tossed with salt. Shimeji, with the root ends cut off, went on top of the greens and sprinkled with salt as well.
The bowl was wrapped with cling film then I used a pointed knife to pierce the wrap to create steam vents. Without the cling film, the haricot verts and mushrooms would have lost too much moisture. The bowl went into the microwave and cooked on medium-high for exactly five minutes. During those five minutes, I mixed the chili ginger vinaigrette.
What is a vinaigrette? At its most basic, it is a mixture of oil and acid. Seasonings and herbs are optional. There are only four ingredients in my chili ginger vinaigrette — rice vinegar, ginger sauce, chili oil and a little sugar for balance. No salt and pepper? The haricot verts and mushrooms had already been salted, remember? And pepper would have been overkill because the chili oil and ginger sauce provide all the heat that the dish needs.
I know that there are people who still regard the microwave oven as unsafe for cooking food. The mere idea of nuking food makes them feel faint. If you’d rather not nuke your food, you can make this dish in the steamer. Cooking time is longer though. How do I know? Because I cooked a second batch of the dish in a steamer. I did it just our of curiosity.
I was cooking rice for dinner and, with 20 minutes left, I placed salted haricot verts and mushrooms in a heat-proof bowl, dropped the bowl into the steamer basket of the rice cooker then shut the cooker’s lid close. By the time the rice was done, so were the beans and mushrooms. I drizzled the same vinaigrette over the steamed beans and shimeji.
The obvious question is which cooking method yielded better results? The beans and mushrooms in the bowl that went into the steamer were more moist. But it took 20 minutes to get them to that stage. I did figure out how to replicate those results in the microwave and it’s described in the recipe below.
Chili ginger vingaigrette
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili oil with the flakes
- thinly sliced scallions
- toasted sesame seeds
- Rinse the haricot verts; do not wipe dry.
- Dump into a microwaveable bowl and toss with half a teaspoon of salt.
- Scatter the shimeji on top and sprinkle in the rest of the salt.
- Pour two tablespoons of water into the bowl (pour it along the edges so that the salt you sprinkled in do not get mixed with the water at this stage).
- Cover the bowl tightly with cling film.
- Pierce the cling film in four to five spots to create steam vents.
- Microwave the haricot verts and shimeji on medium-high for five minutes.
- While the haricot verts and shimeji are cooking, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Take the bowl out of the microwave and carefully peel off the cling wrap.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the haricot verts and shimeji.
- Optionally, garnish with scallions and sesame seeds before serving.