It’s been a while since I posted any of my kitchen experiments with you, dear reader. There is a very good reason for this – my cooking is generally somewhat underwhelming. I can occasionally create something worth telling you about but, whilst I’m actually a pretty competent cook, I don’t tend to cook things that are particularly interesting.
I think I’m probably guilty of being stuck in a rut dictated by things the children won’t turn their noses up at, and trying to be as frugal as possible with the grocery shop and I do like to cook from stratch as much as I possibly can. I don’t mind using tins of things like mixed beans, chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk; but I find that your pre-packed sauces (think Blue Dragon / Sharwoods / Dolmio and their ilk) are just far too cloyingly sweet and chemical tasting.
Now, I’ve never bought pasta sauces because I’ve always made my own, and thanks to the awesome Jack Monroe I can whip up a fairly decent curry – it makes a massive difference having spices that aren’t *ahem* five years out of date, I have discovered; but I have been looking for a sauce that would be good with a stir-fry – it’s the Chinese style sauces that I find particularly sweet and artificial tasting.
We’d been up the community garden this afternoon to harvest some of our broad beans and our rather spectacular peas for a stir-fry with some peppers and mushrooms and some of last night’s leftover chicken (our Sunday chicken lasts us three meals); and I really wanted a sauce that was as fresh as the beans and peas were, something nicely zingy and not the same tooth-aching sweetness that you get in a jar or a pouch.
So I started to experiment. I even got my blender out, that’s when you KNOW I mean business.
I dragged all my jars and bottles out of that kitchen cupboard, and set to work….
I chucked the following in my bad- boy shiny red blender:
1 teaspoon of nam pla
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
4 tablespoons of runny honey
A rough 3cm x 6cm piece of peeled fresh ginger, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
8 spring onions, chopped
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
3 tablespoons of white cider vinegar
Generous handful of fresh coriander, stems included
Half a teaspoon of brown sugar
Pulsed it until it looked like it was doing something mixxy-choppy-uppy; then poured that into the lovely glass bowl you see in the photo above, a bowl I’m sure I liberated from one of my less rewarding living-with-strangers houseshares from my days in that London.
After you’ve chopped all your veggies and whatever protein you want in your stir-fry and you’ve got your rice or noodles on (do they suit you? Do they?), you can commence with your stir frying – I added a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the starter oil because I didn’t have a fresh chilli to add to the mix. Just before you add your sauce, just squeeze in the juice of a lime. Have a little taste, and add a bit more of whatever you fancy. I was tempted to add gin, but held back. I’m such a hero.
Family loved it, and I didn’t even have to bribe them. It tasted really fresh, but multi-layered and – with a few tweaks – would make a fantastic marinade and even a salad dressing; and it’s definitely something that could be played around with, adding different combinations and new ingredients to suit your own tastes.