Pigamitha Dimar, a med student and the creator of food blog Notions and Notations of Novice Chef, prescribes a quick and healthy after-work dinner.
Medical school doesn’t allow for much free time, so it’s a bit of a miracle that Pigamitha Dimar, a 22-year-old studying to be a doctor in Medan, Indonesia, manages to run a food blog—let alone one as beautiful and rich as her Notions and Notations of a Novice Chef. When she’s not on rotations or in the lab, Dimar is in the kitchen, whipping up tres leches doughnuts and Thai drunken noodles and then documenting her creations with drool-inducing photographs and funny write-ups that occasionally dip into her medical background. (Those doughnuts? She compared making them to doing a “local infiltration” anesthesia where you “pierce the needle all the way through and then pull it out while you inject the anesthesia” so the “fluid infiltrates all the layers.” Umm…yum?)
When Dimar was seven years old she saw a film where a guy whipped up an epic omelette, and “that sort of lit the spark” of her love for cooking, she says. “I couldn’t sleep after watching it.” Both of her parents encouraged her interest in food. “My mother deals more with traditional Indonesian cuisine, so I learned how to combine spices from her,” she says. “From my father I learned more of the technicalities—how to tell if oil is hot, how to scale and gut a fish, how to make chili retain its iridescent red colour when cooking sambal.” She attended an international school growing up and says that her experience there was instrumental in helping her develop a diverse palette: “Between school events, sleepovers, and iftar invitations, I’ve tasted my way through the British Isles, the Philippines, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Korea, Japan, Australia, and Cyprus, and I bring memories of those dishes back to the blog.”
Here Dimar shares her Single Serving recipe for a broccoli and beef stir fry that we can assure you is way better (and much healthier) than that takeout you were thinking about ordering tonight. “I think for dinner, after a long day, all you want to do is eat something that’s quick and comforting,” Dimar says. “It’d be so easy to give in to the temptations of ordering in, but you have to think about health values.” Spoken like a good doctor. ELLEN CARPENTER
• 1/2 pound flank or sirloin steak, sliced thinly across the grain (about 3mm thick)
• 1/2 pound broccoli, cut to bite-sized florets
• 1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
• 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1 egg (optional)
FOR THE BEEF MARINADE
• 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
• a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes
FOR THE SAUCE
• 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon chili oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons water
• You’ll need some rice for this dish; white long grain, brown rice, wild rice—up to you, so get some ready before you start making this.
• Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes
• Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
• Cook the broccoli for about two minutes in a small pot of boiling, salted water until tender-crisp. Drain thoroughly, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
• Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for one minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to one minute until no longer pink. Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and heat until the sauce boils and thickens.
• Serve on top of warm rice. If so inclined, top with a fried egg.
Photographed by PIGAMITHA DIMAR
Illustration: MAT WILLIAMS