Well, winter is finally here. I have already turned my heating on and I don’t leave the house without a scarf anymore. I think it’s time for some comfort food!
As the temperature drops I have noticed myself grabbing far too easily for those naughty snacks we all know too well. Admittedly, a baked potato is far more appealing in this kind of weather than a salad, and hoarding food reserves (in your belly!) to survive the winter months is just a natural reaction to the cold. But why does comfort food have to be so bad for you? A dish doesn’t automatically have to be bad for your waistline in order to be comforting. That’s what I thought when I came up with today’s recipe. A hot, fragrant and spicy stir-fry that is not only vegan, but gluten free too!
If you’ve never cooked with rice noodles before, you’ll be in for a treat. They work fantastically well with coconut milk and are ridiculously easy to prepare. There are two kinds of rice noodles available in supermarkets: dried ones, that come in a packet similar to that of spaghetti, and fresh, or pre-soaked ones. The latter you can use straight out of the pack – just add them to your pan, but the dried ones you will have to soak in water for a couple of minutes before you can cook with them. It’s super easy; just follow the instructions on the pack and you’ll be ready to go. Which thickness you go for in the end is completely up to you – I used ribbon noodles, but any other ones work just as well.
If you want to take your stir-fry further, add some fresh coriander to your dish and fry the ingredients in sesame oil. Do add some kaffir lime leaves if you can find them – I had no luck in my local supermarket, but I hear that they like to hide in the seasoning aisle!
Finally, if you’re really desperate for some flesh between your teeth there are a variety of ingredients you can add. I would suggest using prawns, but you could use chicken or pork if you wanted to.
1 can coconut milk
1 tin bamboo shoots & water chestnuts
100g shiitake mushrooms
1 pack rice noodles (equal to 300g)
2 sticks lemongrass
2 spring onions
1 piece fresh ginger, grated (about thumb-length)
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli (careful, these are hot! Wash your hands immediately after chopping! De-seed for a milder experience)
Pinch of vegetable stock cube, crumbled (optional)
Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!
And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.
The first time I ever attempted to cook a Thai dish, nobody told me what to do with the lemongrass. If you are still unsure about how to prepare it, have a look at this very helpful video! Sadly, our lemongrass isn’t nearly that tall.
In the mood for some more Thai food or just bought too many ingredients? Here is an easy recipe for green curry paste! You will have most of the ingredients already at hand, and don’t panic if you can’t find a particular spice/root/herb – just get whatever you can find and make the most of it.
If you are anything like me, you just can’t stay away from coconut milk. Its creamy goodness is so versatile and most of all, delicious! This website is packed with ideas for tasty coconut milk smoothies – can I hear a blender whizzing?
Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.