Tuesday 6 January 2015

Korean-Style Spaghetti

I know. On first sight of those ingredients together, you might be forgiven for thinking I'm off my rocker. But bear with me, because this WORKS. It really does. 

It stemmed from what my more successful experiments usually stem from; insane hunger mixed with deep and abject skintness. The root cause of this is that I'm moving house. I'm flying the nest 2.5 miles away to the bright lights of Camberwell. So long, East Dulwich! You've been good to me. 

The fridge needed clearing out. Despite moving at least 12 times in my 28 years, I'm still a hoarder. I love stuff. I uncovered university prospectuses that I must've lugged around with me for 8 years. I didn't even go to uni. In a feeble attempt to cut down on packing, I rootled around the fridge and the cupboards and this beauty was born. Kimchi and gochujang combine to make a spicy sauce base, the latter's stickiness thickening the sauce up nicely, while the milk, cheese and sour cream (BEAR WITH ME) take the harshness down a notch or two. Bacon is essential because, well, bacon. You can leave the vegetables out but on your head the scurvy be it. 

Korean-Style Spaghetti

Serves 2

220gr spaghetti
1 small courgette, cut into batons
A handful of sugar snap peas, julienned
2 tbsp kimchi, chopped finely
2 rashers of streaky bacon, diced
2 heaped tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp ketchup
200ml milk
2 spring onions, whites separated from the greens, also julienned
2 tbsp sour cream
A handful of cheddar or parmesan
1 tsp vegetable oil

Set the spaghetti on to cook. In a saucepan, add the vegetable oil with the diced bacon and fry on a medium heat until browned and crisp. Add the courgette batons, whites of the spring onions and the kimchi and fry, stirring every couple of minutes, until the courgette has softened. 

Add the gochujang and the milk to the courgettes and stir together well, incorporating the milk into the sauce. Add the ketchup and simmer gently for 5 minutes. By now, the pasta should be just under al dente (if the sauce is taking longer just take the pasta off the heat). Add a scant few tablespoons of the pasta water to the sauce and drain the pasta. Add the sugar snap peas, sour cream and the pasta into the sauce pot and cook on a low heat, tossing and turning the pasta so that it is evenly coated and the sauce clings to the strands. 

To serve, divide evenly into bowls. Garnish with the cheese and the green julienned spring onion. Chopsticks? A fork? I don't know. 

Saturday 3 January 2015

How To Make A Bowl of Health

I don't know about you, but there were some pretty big indulgences this Christmas. Not content with just roasted goose, we also roasted a ham to go on the Christmas table. Boxing Day saw not only the ritualistic bubble & squeak breakfast, fried in goose fat, but also a buffet with lasagne, cottage pie and salt beef. How was I supposed to choose between that lot? I didn't. They all got equal stature on my plate. And if that wasn't enough, we roasted a rib of beef, with some of the most perfect roast potatoes I've achieved yet. There was fish pie, laden with cream and butter. The cheeseboard was not left unhassled. I waddled back home. 

That sort of thing doesn't come for free, though. Balance is key, and I had some repenting to do. I've been going in for one-bowl-wonders - what, in the US is often referred to as 'buddha bowls', though I'm not entirely sure why. I buy in a load of vegetables, and they can be marinated, roasted, steamed so that no one bowl ever needs to be the same.

- You need a carb or grain base if you're going to keep that hunger at bay. Brown rice has featured heavily, but I've also used glass noodles, quinoa, bulgur wheat, green lentils, or Israeli cous cous (the big sort). Step away from the pasta and the white rice. 

- Vegetables. A combination of steamed, roasted and raw. Use a mix of vegetables in both colour and texture. If you're going to be roasting them, cut up sturdy, fibrous vegetables smaller than vegetables that hold more water so that they cook more quickly. Peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, sweetcorn on the cob, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower and kale all benefit from being roasted. Green beans and carrots do well steamed. Cucumber, avocado and diced tomato can be left raw. Brussels sprouts can shredded raw and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil if you're not completely sick of them by now. 

- A sauce - them vegetables need jazzing up, after all. Lemon juice, tahini and garlic. Peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil shaken together with enough water to loosen it. Miso, soy sauce, lemon and oil. Sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, finely diced shallot. Garlic, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and a little water to loosen. Whizzed up parsley, mint, anchovies and olive oil, with capers stirred through.

- You'll need some protein. Chickpeas, tofu, beans, houmous. Maybe some fish. Tinned fish also works. I laid off the steak and ham and pates for these bowls... 

- A topping to introduce some texture or an additional flavour. Toasted sesame seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped herbs, chopped up kimchi, a squirt of chilli sauce, that sort of thing.

Enjoy. Give it a week and you can get back to the burgers.