In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.
It's that time of year. Not the "sit around the fire and sip eggnog" kind of time, but the "goddamn it's cold" kind of time. It's a season calling for the comfort of a delivery guy showing up on your step when cooking an elaborate meal is exactly the last thing you want to do.
But what if you could have something even better than takeout in less time than it takes to wait for Seamless to arrive? Chef JJ Johnson of The Cecil in Harlem stopped by the MUNCHIES Kitchen to show us how to do just that for this installment of Quickies.
Ever the fans of last-minute clean-out-the-fridge stir-fries, we were more than elated to find that JJ had come prepared with his mise en place, well, en place, even if the ingredient combination might sound a little "rolled in stoned as hell at 3 AM."
First, you've got the classic mirepoix trinity of onions, carrots, and celery. Then there's collards greens, followed by Asian aromatics: ginger, scallions, garlic, chilies. Finally, there's crab meat, edamame, and pineapple. And it all gets mixed up with rice noodles made of purplish black rice.
What the hell is going on here? Pure genius, that's what. (And if you've ever had the good fortune of trying JJ's amazing Afro-Asian cuisine at The Cecil, this isn't all that surprising.)
We'd regale you with detailed steps, but this is a quick-cooking dish. Most of your time in the kitchen will be spend on ingredient prep, if not eating the final product over the sink in a state of foggy bliss.
Here's a quick play-by-play, though:
Get a pot of water boiling and toss in the noodles. As long as you've already chopped them—which should take all of 10 minutes—the rest of your ingredients should be ready by the time they're done cooking.
While they're bubbling away, heat up a wok and add a little oil until just smoking.
Add the onions, season with salt, and cook until translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.
Add in collards, carrots, and celery. Stir, stir, stir.
Finally, toss in the pineapple, edamame, crab, and scallions.
Drain the noodles and fold them into the vegetables in the wok.
Add a little bit of soy sauce, and a little bit of sweet chili sauce. Stir, stir, stir.
And that's it—you're ready to eat.
Of course, you shouldn't feel bound by JJ's list of ingredients. The best stir-fry, in our opinion, is made with what's on hand. But JJ's are a damn fine blueprint, and a delicious one at that.