Eating is the best time of the day.
Luckily, I also really love cooking: I love the lone-ranger foraging, the neat vegetable chopping, and of course, the creative recipes that I’m forced to think up due to the lack of content in my cupboards. Now that I’m firmly in my twenties (cry), I feel like the transformation to a kitchen goddess is surely somewhere around the corner? Though I’ve got some way to go, my unashamed love of a good, home-cooked meal (or what you could also call a love of stuffing my face) means pottering about the kitchen is one of my favourite things to do.
So, here’s some super quick, no-fuss student creations that might help you out in a pinch:
Stir Fry Noodles / Deconstructed Sushi /Blitzed Veggie Soup
Not the most imaginative of dishes, but a vegetable stir-fry is a great way to use up odds and ends of vegetables from the cupboard – and of course, feel free to add meat. The kick to these noodles is my mum’s special ingredient: Taiwanese ShaCha Sauce. It’s the mind-blowing, Asian equivalent to good ol’ BBQ sauce (which incidentally, I’m addicted to) and is usually sold in most Asian supermarkets. You don’t need much of the thick, grainy paste to give a slightly spicy, rich taste to the noodles, so start small, but it’s my top tip for stir-frying anything.
Ingredients: Amoy Straight-to-Wok Noodles (150g) Fine green beans Sweetheart Cabbage Red Pepper Small Onion Shiitake Mushrooms Broccoli Garlic Soy Sauce Chinese BBQ Sauce
1. Put the noodles and shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and a quarter cup of boiling water.
2. Wash and chop all vegetables.
3. Add groundnut oil to the wok and fry vegetables until soft.
4. Add noodles, mushrooms and water, 4 tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp BBQ sauce – stir for 3-5mins until noodles are soft and evenly coated with sauce.
ie. the perfect sushi rice
So this is a cheat meal, and it certainly helps if you are addicted to sushi rice – as I am. There’s nothing like a bowl of incredibly sticky, white sushi rice to make my mouth water, and this super-healthy meal involves lots of it. The key to making this lunch or dinner pop is the faintest sweet taste to the traditional sushi rice: just add sushi vinegar, sugar and salt in the quantities below. You can get Sushi Vinegar pretty cheap at most Asian supermarkets, and sometimes major chains also. I could eat sushi rice by the mountain so I try to control myself…
I tend to make this rice to go with any combo of stir-fried veg, fish, roasted sweet potato – but for once, it’s the rice that’s the star of the show.
Ingredients: Sushi Rice (I tend to go for the Korean rice brand ARIRANG) Sushi Vinegar Salt & Sugar Seaweed Sheets Selection of fresh vegetables eg. Peppers, Sweetheart Cabbage, Broccoli Optional Extras: Sweet Potato Chips, Braised Eel, Honey and Soy Sauce Salmon etc.
Sushi Rice Method:
1. Boil rice and water in a 1:2 ratio and leave to cook until ready. × [see tips below]
2. Once rice is ready, take off heat and leave to cool for one minute, then add 3 tbs of vinegar per 50g dry weight of rice.
3. Season rice to taste, 3 tbs of vinegar usually sits well with a 1/2 tsp of sugar and a light sprinkling of salt.
3. Plate up with your chosen sides!
×TIPS FOR SAUCEPAN COOKED SUSHI RICE:
(ie. students like me who can’t afford rice cookers)
+ Turn heat down once water is bubbling, stirring rice only when a quick scrape with a wooden spoon shows rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the water boils off, be prepared to stir frequently to prevent sticking.
+ Rice is ready when it tastes entirely smooth when chewed, so give it a taste and don’t be afraid to stir and add more water if it isn’t cooked. Keep a keen eye out if you’re adding more water as rice is more prone to burn at the bottom.
+ Other indicators of perfect rice are: the water has boiled off and rice rising slightly at the edges of the pot, or a white film of rice paper is gathering on the pan sides.
Blitzed Veggie Soup
Ingredients: Broccoli Onion Garlic Rosemary Vegetable Stock Butter Salt, Pepper, Sugar Optional Pre-Blending Additions: Cream, Philly/Soft Cheese (non-salted)
1. Wash broccoli, chop with onions and garlic, and fry in butter with rosemary leaves.
2. Tip into blender and blend till smooth, slowly adding 1 stock cube dissolved in 250ml of water.
3. Season to taste and serve!
(I added some ground pepper, and a tiny smidge of sugar)
I’ve used broccoli because it’s in my cupboard and thus all my student meals this week, but really lots of veg can be substituted – I’m looking forward to trying sweet potato, peppers, spinach and more! Whenever I get round to buying them, that is…
With winter in my cold cold room, I’ll be looking to make some yummy stews and tomato sauces next week to keep my poor tummy warm. Hit me up if you try any of these tips for a quick lunch next week, and I’ll be back with more meals ASAP!