Friday, April 14, 2017

Moo Shu Pork

THE GAME: Angels vs Royals

For a long time, the Royals were my second-favorite team in the American League. There were several reasons.

First, I'm not old enough to remember all the battles the two teams had from 1976-1986, when both teams were in the AL West. (In those 11 seasons, the two teams combined to win nine of the division titles. In five of those years, the teams finished 1-2 in the division.)

Second, I attended an Angels-Royals game in Kansas City in 2002. Kauffman Stadium was a surprisingly fun, old-school stadium, and the fans were - and still are - the friendliest fans I have ever encountered in an opponent's stadium. (The least friendly? Yankees fans. Although I've never seen an Angels game at Fenway; I imagine Red Sox fans would be worse.)

But most importantly, the Royals simply didn't matter for almost 30 years. Between 1986 and 2013, they never won their division nor a wild card spot. They had lots of great players come through Kansas City over the years, but they never could put it all together. (Hell, one year they had an outfield of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye, and they still finished with a losing record.)

But now I can't stand the Royals. Part of it, of course, is that they swept the Angels in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, after the Angels had spent the season acquiring the best record in baseball. But mostly I just don't like the players.

Eric Hosmer has a habit of screaming like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert every time one of the Royals gets a hit. Yordano Ventura would start a fight with almost anyone who dared get a hit off of him. He once got into an altercation with Mike Trout after Trout hit a ball back up the middle that almost hit Ventura, as if Trout can direct the ball at particular players. Kendrys Morales would take what seemed like 90 seconds to round the bases after hitting a home run. (Although, admittedly, that might be as fast as he can go.)

I do not have a good feeling about this game, but I'm still gonna watch. It's a Friday night in spring, it's been a long week... why not?

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I saw a recipe the other day for moo shu pork that utilized sausage instead of pork tenderloin. I loved this idea, particularly since my local butcher shop sells sweet Italian sausage that is as good as any I have ever had. So I picked up four links. 
  • I removed the pork from the casing, added a generous amount of garlic and ginger, and cooked it in a wok. When it was done, I drained most of the fat and set the pork aside. 
  • I shredded half a head of cabbage and a few ounces of shiitake mushrooms and sauteed them in the residual pork fat. 
  • Once they softened, I added the sausage back into the mix, along with vinegar, soy sauce, and a drop or two of chili oil. 
  • I'd never purchased moo shu pancakes before. I thought maybe I could find them at the local Ralph's. Nope. So I went to 99 Ranch Market, the nearby Asian supermarket. I looked amongst the refrigerated egg roll and dumpling wrappers. They weren't there either. Finally I asked for help. "We keep them in the freezer, they're not a very popular product," I was told. So I bought and defrosted a package. 
  • A few weeks ago, I was watching a video of Rick Bayless and Ming Tsai cooking together. They are two of my favorite chefs in America - actually, they're probably #1 and #2. Ming made a dish with hoisin sauce on the side, and he recommended squeezing some lime into it. So I tried this for the first time. It was awesome. I spread some on each pancake and ladled in the filling.
  • This was the best moo shu pork I have ever had. I ate four of them. To the final one, I added a healthy amount of hot mustard to clear the sinuses.

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • J.C. Ramirez is making his first ever career start. It's only 10 games into the season, but the Angels' best pitcher is already on the DL, with no timetable for return. With a lot of teams, that would be a big story. With the Angels, it's more like "Wow, I'm surprised they've only lost one pitcher so far."
  • Danny Duffy is starting for the Royals. That's one of the more fun names to say in baseball. It feels like it should belong to a character in a movie about a Little League team. 
  • Mike Trout has already earned 1 WAR this season. It's only ten games old. That's pretty crazy. Is he going to end the season with 16.2 WAR? (I'm gonna go ahead and guess no - the all-time record belongs to Babe Ruth: 14.1 in 1923. He hit .393 with 41 homers that year.) 
  • As soon as I wrote the above, Trout hit an RBI single. For the third year in a row, I'm going to spend the season wondering how awful the Angels would be without Trout. 
  • Wait, I didn't think Billy Butler was in baseball this season. Oh wait - that's Mike Moustakas. He, uh, looks well fed.
  • Two pitches in and Ramirez has given up a single and a home run. Kansas City now leads 2-1. Speaking of which: 
  • The Angels offense has been fun so far. They're leading the AL in batting average (for now) and Trout and Escobar are on fire. They've had some exciting comebacks, including the seven-run 9th inning that I mentioned the other day. But their pitching has been nothing short of atrocious. They have the 3rd-worst ERA in the AL and in 10 games they've only had a starting pitcher go six innings once. (I will point out the obvious: the Angels have had comeback victories this season because they've had to come back - their pitching dug them a big hole.)
  • 5-1 Royals. Kansas City had the second-worst batting average and the second-fewest runs scored in the AL coming into this game. In 9 games, they'd only scored five runs on two occasions. Tonight they have five runs in the 3rd inning. Angels pitching: the cure for your shitty offense! 
  • To be fair, this isn't unexpected. Garrett Richards is already on the DL and I don't think they really know what's wrong with him. Tyler Skaggs is coming off Tommy John surgery AND a shoulder problem and he's still unproven. Heaney and Tropeano would be the #2 and 3 pitchers in the rotation but they're out for the season with Tommy John surgeries. This whole season should be about making moves for next year. 
  • I guess Kansas City got another run but I was watching the bottom of the 9th of Yankees-Cardinals. I'm probably gonna watch Dodgers-Diamondbacks soon, too. Kershaw vs. Greinke. That sounds better than this game. 
  • Raul Mondesi Jr. just robbed Escobar of a hit with a hell of a catch. With that, I'm done. 

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