Five in Five



This isn’t a recipe really, it’s an assembly job. Five ingredients which make a really tasty meal in five minutes. I might see if I can come up with some more – well if You Know Who (no, not Voldemort) can do it, why not me?

However, as Mr Oliver does with his 15 minute meals, you will need the kettle to have boiled and a pan already on the heat.

I suppose technically this uses two cheat ingredients but a good ready made Thai paste is an excellent product, I buy mine from Wing Yip in Manchester and you can order from them online if you can’t buy it local to you but I’m sure most supermarkets will sell Thai curry pastes. I used Tom Yum paste but you could use any you have – green, red, yellow, Massaman etc. Be bold with the paste, a lot of them are quite poky but the coconut cream will mellow that a little and you want something lively here, Thai food is rarely shy and retiring. If you don’t like poky [looks sideways at a certain someone] then I’d suggest using a mild Indian curry paste instead. It’ll still work.

The pre-cooked noodles are just easier to use than the dried ones but should you want to rehydrate some of the very fine rice noodles – the kind you get in ‘Singapore’ style dishes – start that process before you start on the sauce. Just put two helpings in a bowl and cover with boiling water. By the time the salmon is cooked they should be ready to drain and add to the pan.

This amount serves two generously.

2 heaping tablespoons of Tom Yum paste mixed into 200ml boiling water
1/2 block of coconut cream, chopped up
1 bag of ready prepared stir-fry vegetable mix (whichever your fancy)
2 salmon fillets
1 whole pack Straight to Wok rice noodles (two portions)

Pour the Tom Yum stock into the hot pan and add the shopped up creamed coconut then stir until melted and the liquid has come up to the boil.

Tip in the stir-fry veg mix and stir to coat in the stock. Once this has come back up to the boil reduce the heat to low to medium and lay the salmon fillets, skin side up, on top of the vegetables. Put a lid on the pan. Leave the fish to poach for 3 minutes.

Remove the pan lid, and using a couple of forks peel the skin off the salmon and discard then roughly break the fish into chunks.

Add the noodles and stir. Take the pan off the heat and allow the noodles to heat through for 30 seconds or so then divide between two warmed bowls.

This is perfectly lovely as it is but I do like to throw additional things on my food – curries, soups, casseroles etc. Garnishes I suppose you’d call them. You absolutely don’t have to but I added some chopped mint and some homemade chilli jam because I’d just made some. Had I had lime zest, fresh coriander, salted peanuts and very crispy fried shallots I would have added some or all of those too. And sometimes you might want to add an extra bit of fish sauce and/or some soy, it’s all down to personal taste.



Two Soups and…

2017-01-08_0001…another Soup*.

It is very definitely soup weather at the moment. Vegetable soups are really easy to make and have just two or three simple steps – braising the vegetables, adding the stock, blitzing the results (optional).

For four servings of any vegetable based soup you need about 500g of vegetables, whatever you particularly like, cut into manageable pieces, some butter and any flavourings you like plus plenty of seasoning.

Heat the butter over a low to medium heat and tip in the vegetables and flavourings, then turn to low.

You must let everything sit long and slow in the butter, stirring occasionally, but at least 30 minutes and without letting anything brown. This is called sweating – I know. You would think there was a nicer term for it but there you are. If you are channeling some tv chef or other you can make a cartouche from a bit of greaseproof paper and settle it on top before putting a lid on the pan. Or just put a lid on the pan. It works either way.

Once the the vegetables have softened and smell lovely, add some stock. About a litre or so to 500g of veg. If you have lovingly prepared homemade stock this is the place to use it of course but a good quality ready made one or a decent stock cube will do perfectly well instead. Bring everything up to a simmer and let it tick away for about 10 minutes or so. You can then serve the soup as it is, blitz it all with a thunderstick, or half blitz it so that there’s still some chunky bits in there. Entirely up to you. I think soup benefits from a bit of a garnish – chopped herbs, grated cheese, slosh of cream etc. let your imagination run wild…I make a curried parsnip soup for the supper club and garnish that with tiny onion bhajis.

I like garlic bread with my soup and this is how I do mine:

1 large baguette
100g very soft butter
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
large handful of parsley, finely chopped
zest and juice of a small lemon

Slice the baguette into two long halves.

Mix everything else together in a small bowl then spread this flavoured butter along the bottom half of the baguette, place the other half on top and wrap tightly in foil.

Put the wrapped bread top side down onto a baking sheet and place a preheated 200ºc oven. Bake for ten minutes then turn the right way up and fold back the foil. Bake for another 5 minutes then remove from the oven, cut the baguette into thick slices and serve alongside your bowl of lovely soup.

The soups above are (from l to r) Swede, Cream Cheese and Black Pepper, Butternut Squash with Orange and Coriander, Leek and Potato.

*apologies to Victoria Wood