Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Friday Night Revolution

Since food became my obsession, I've began to view takeaway food in a different light. Not that I am too snobbish or anything, but I've found that as my cooking technique has improved, I've found it difficult to find a takeaway that can provide me with what I want; quality, freshness and value for money. In the days before food obsession, I would eat any old takeaway, and with no comparison to make and therefore little opinion, I would rarely complain.

I rarely go for the takeaway option now. A preference to cook no matter how tired I am coupled with a genuine love for great food and ingredients ensures that I don't have to battle with my conscience much. But that should not mean that I can't go for a takeaway now and again, and why not? And why can't I trust the vast number of takeaways that consume our British streets? Personally, I find it an annoyance of the highest order when an Indian or Chinese restaurant consistently gets their food wrong. As far as I am concerned, they should know their cuisine and their customers better. Of course, if we could all get a bit more confident in the kitchen and produce good simple food, we could all form opinions and get up in arms with the state of our U.K. takeaways. So I urge you all to think a bit more before accepting more colourless and flavourless greasy drivel from your takeaway. At the same time, sing the quality takeaways that you know of from the rooftops.

Close to Indian food at the top of the U.K.'s favourite cuisine is Chinese food. Admittedly it is fantastic. But only if you can find the right place. I'm still to find a real quality Chinese takeaway that I can trust in my area of the North East, so I opt for my own home style Chinese food when it takes my fancy. The following recipe, like all good Chinese recipes, is quick, fresh and delicious. It also is a great way to get your little ones to eat a bit of cabbage. Superb spring greens have been around for the past month or two, and I love the stuff just steamed and buttered. Unfortunately, my daughter doesn't. Spark it up with a bit of spice and sweetness and it seems to do the trick. You can serve this with chicken (as per my recipe), pork, beef or without meat for a great vegetarian option. If you are using meat, ensure that you cook the meat first on a high heat, remove, and then return to the pan for the final stages.

This is simple food that anybody can do. Quite why a great number of our takeaways still get it wrong bewilders me. Please try this recipe then attempt your local takeaway again. You might just start forming some opinions that could change the places you buy your Friday night fast food from. Or start a new beginning in your life which consists of less takeaways. I know I did. Friday night revolution anybody?

Hot, Sweet & Spicy Chicken and Cabbage with Egg Fried Rice
Serves 2 and a little one

For the rice
4 handfuls of Basmati rice
4 handfuls of frozen peas
A small bunch of spring onions
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 egg, beaten

2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 large or 2 small spring greens (or your cabbage of choice), thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 thumb size of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp chilli bean sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

1 - Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the rice and without stirring, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is cooked. Pour into a colander and drain thoroughly. Leave aside.
2 - Heat a wok or large frying pan and add the groundnut oil. When it is almost smoking, add the chicken and quickly stir fry until coloured all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3 - Bring the other wok back up to heat and add further oil if required. Add the garlic, ginger and spring greens and 2 tbsp of water. Stir thoroughly then place on the lid. Steam for 2 minutes.
4 - Remove the lid, then return the chicken along with the sauces and oil. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
5 - Whilst this is cooking, in another wok or large frying pan, heat the oil then add the rice and peas. Briskly stir fry until heated through and the peas are cooked, then add the egg and spring onions. Stir fry for 1 further minute and keep warm.
6 - Serve in bowls with the egg fried rice alongside.


kethry said...

Completely agree with you regarding the chinese food: we have chinese takeaway once a year, on my birthday. the rest of the time i cook it!

When i do egg fried rice though i add a number of ingredients that turns it into something different, probably closer to special fried rice, but its really yummy. pre cook the rice, as you've described, but allow it to go cold, then stir fry a couple chopped garlic cloves, a finger of chopped root ginger, and a couple of chopped red chillis (we like it spicy so .. feel free to amend that one!). stir fry those for a minute or so, then add some chopped onion - you could use red or spring - chopped pepper, colour of your choice, and maybe some other veg (i try to add veg whereever i can, like chopped courgette, peas) and some frozen prawns. Stirfry till they're cooked then add the rice, stir around, then the egg.

After the egg is cooked, i add a sort of dressing which is: mix of 2 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp chinese five spice, 1 tsp honey, 1/2 teaspoon lemongrass powder, 1 tbsp chinese rice wine and 1 tsp veg oil - put them in a jar and shake well. once that's poured over the rice/veg i stir well, and pretty much dish up straight away. Gorgeous.

I've found the same "dressing" works well for stir fried veg (with beansprouts, cabbage, bamboo shoots, waterchestnuts, that kind of thing), only i add some cornflour to thicken the dressing and help it cling to the veg.

very easy, quick (once the chopping's done anyway) and absolutely gorgeous. I do a lot of indonesian and thai food as well (my OH has indonesian/dutch ancestery, so i learned to cook indonesian food from his mom, who learned it from her mother in law, who learned it from her mother in law, who was indonesian!) and i've found the best way to do food like this is to deliberately cook lots and lots, so there's loads left over once everyone's eaten, and then there's enough for the following night when it can be reheated in the microwave and give you a night off.

Patricia said...

Thanks David for leaving a comment on my blog. No, I'm not on holidays. I'm working (hard), seeing to holiday guests, cooking for them, working in the garden and doing house work. It doesn't leave me much time to write in my blog. I just don't know how you do it, Superman ;-)