EEEeeeeek! I’m sooo excited! This is my very first guest post and it’s by none other than Soapsuds and Doodles who happens to be my classmate at Warwick and also a recently converted health freak! Here she is sharing a recipe from her very own customised diet. It’s an absolutely delicious and experimental (yet simple) dish and her descriptions+ photographs will want to make you eat the screen! A complete winner in my opinion 🙂 I hope you enjoy it just as much as I have! ♥
After devouring a giant bar of Toblerone for both breakfast and lunch a couple of weeks ago (you know – the kind that’s compulsory for everyone going through airport duty free), something told me it was time for a major diet revamp. I love salads, fresh vegetables and low fat Japanese cuisine but by-and-large, I’m not a health food person so for me to switch to eating wholesome things permanently, they’d have to be pretty darn tasty. Live to eat, am I right?
Shriya gave me a great idea when she mentioned that one of her kitchenmates constantly eats stark meals of noodles and boiled vegetables with a little seasoning for taste. I figured that with the right sauces and herbs, such a dish could be a really quick, healthy lunch option and set out to recreate it my own way.
The secret ingredients in this are a fermented black bean sauce and a traditional Chinese chilli oil (make sure you buy a really tasty version because some brands they sell in the West can be quite bland – I recommend Lao Gan Ma. You know you can’t go wrong when it has a man’s face on it).
The black bean sauce gives it a nutty, salty soy flavour and the chilli oil adds a garlicky kick. And the thing I love about this meal idea is that you can do almost anything with it. Jonesing for meat? Throw in some shredded chicken breast. Want it cold? Boil up some soba and soak in dashi. And I’m sure it’ll be just as amazing with dried chillis and fried onions on top for some added crunch.
My specific recipe uses mushrooms, pak choi, spinach, cucumber, fresh coriander and chilli for a zesty, fresh flavour. I make it with chewy udon and the resulting dish is a bright, fragrant tangle of firm, earthy noodles and mushrooms, juicy pak choi stems and crunchy vegetables that won’t make you feel guilty about dessert – if you still have space for it!
What you need:
A deep pan or saucepan
A big noodle bowl (I love this pretty pyrex bowl that I found at Tesco for £3 because I can see the colourful veggies right the way down and it makes me feel extra healthy. Whatever works, right?)
A colander (I made one batch without this and everything was swimming in icky oily water.)
Fresh udon (or noodle of choice. I use a brand that comes with pre-packed portions.)
A quarter of a cucumber
One bunch of pak choi
A handful of mushrooms
A fresh red chilli
Handful of coriander
Handful of spinach
Half a teaspoon of chilli oil
Half a teaspoon of fermented black bean sauce (The amounts for the last two condiments are estimates – adjust them to regulate saltiness and spiciness.)
What to do:
1) Cut the bottom off the pak choi. Slice the cucumber, chilli, coriander and mushrooms.
2) Put the raw cucumber, coriander and chilli in your bowl.
3) Put in half a teaspoon of black bean sauce. Drain the oil from half a teaspoon of the chilli oil mixture and put in the remaining chilli flakes and bits. It’s important to drain the oil and just use the bits or it completely defeats the “healthy” intention.
4) Heat water in your deep pan or saucepan. Bring to the boil, put in the udon, mushrooms and pak choi and let boil for about three minutes.
5) It’s ready when the pak choi turns a deeper green and the udon strands seperate when you stir them with a fork. (About three minutes.)
6) Throw in the spinach to wilt then immediately turn the heat off.
7) Drain, toss in bowl with raw veggies and condiments.
8) Eat like you’ve never eaten before. At least, that’s what I do! Enjoy!