Nothing says dirt cheap dinner like Chinese take out (at least that's the way it used to be). The $5 lunch special, often too large for one person to finish, has come through numerous times in a crunch for dirt cheap lunch AND dinner. Unfortunately Chinese food isn't big in Israel so we've been missing our chicken with broccoli and brown sauce, an undisputed if cliche favorite since childhood. As soon as broccoli came into season here it was the first thing I wanted to make.
Probably for good reason, I had never given much thought to what goes into the ubiquitous brown sauce. I assumed that it was a fairly standard recipe that would be readily available. I was wrong. There are a million different versions online, all with vastly different ingredients and no agreement on what makes up the sauce.
So, I did what I always do when in doubt: look up a bunch of recipes, get the gist, and make one up myself using whatever I have on hand I have made it with both chicken and the even healthier, cheaper, vegetarian tofu and both are great. If you want to splurge, beef would probably work too! I don’t know if it’s my Chinese food deprivation talking, but my rendition of brown sauce tasted like the real thing to me! And it was cheaper - and not so much more time consuming - than ordering in. —kmartinelli
2 to 4
head broccoli, cut into florets and stem sliced
chili oil (optional)
cloves raw garlic, minced
cloves roasted garlic (optional, but adds deliciousness)
A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.