Sunday, 9 November 2014

Yasai Cha Han

This weekend was chore-tastic but also really hot, so I wanted something nourishing but not too heavy. I'm still working my way through the vegetarian section of the Wagamama cookbook, and this recipe called for things I mostly already had in the fridge. A quick cycle to the local grocer (and a quick swim when we got back to cool down) and I was able to pick up the rest of the ingredients. It was super-fast to prepare; easily a new weekday meal for me. You'll want really good fresh ingredients for this, as there are no other flavourings beyond soy sauce, so the vegetables need to speak for themselves. The rice instructions and the sheer amount of salt were both a shock to me, but I followed the recipe and they did work out.

  • A ladleful of Thai fragrant rice
  • Four ladlefuls of boiling water
  • two king oyster mushrooms, cubed
  • 250g firm tofu, cubed
  • 8-10 baby sweetcorn
  • 15-20 sugarsnap peas
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 4cm pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 eggs
Cook the rice in the boiling water on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not done. Drain and refresh under cold running water; set aside. If you have wobbly tofu (which I usually do), fry the tofu in a little oil in a hot wok, turning carefully and occasionally until lightly seared on a few sides. Scoop out and set aside.

Turn the heat up, add a little more oil, and stir-fry the mushrooms for five minutes, until golden and bouncy. Throw in the vegetables, rice, salt, and soy sauce, and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the vegetables are bright. Add the egss and stir fry until they are just cooked. Divide between two bowls and serve with miso soup on the side.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Pasta with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Walnuts

One of those spontaneous flavour combinations that occurred to me, and, minutes later, was confirmed as a perfect balance of warm and nutty, rich and earthy, and green and grassy.


  • pasta for two (200-300g)
  • a generous handful of walnuts
  • two king oyster mushrooms (or 10 chestnut mushrooms)
  • a bunch of asparagus (about 8-10 stalks)
  • a few stalks of curly parsley
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
Cook the pasta according to its packet instructions. Dry-toast the walnuts in a small frying pan until crisp and golden; remove and set aside. Cube the mushrooms and fry until golden; cut the asparagus into inch-long lengths and add to the pan; stir-fry until cooked. Finely chop the parsley and combine, turning the heat off. Drain the pasta, mix well with the sour cream and mustard, then tip in the fried vegetables and give a last toss about. Season to taste and serve.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Asparagus Shiraae

Asparagus is in season, and I have a Japanese food craving. Irreconcilable? I do not think this word means what you think it means! I went out on a limb and tried the most unusual (to me) recipe from The Guardian's Top Ten Asparagus Recipes. This definitely isn't for everyone... I can imagine the texture would really be off-putting for people who don't like jelly. But if you know you like soft tofu and sesame, give this a try. The recipe said serves four... well, that was total nonsense. Served two of us, with plain boiled rice and nasu dengaku to go with.


  • 300g soft/silken tofu
  • 200g asparagus
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp miso
  • Salt

Drain the tofu from the packet, wrap it in plenty of kitchen paper, put it on a plate and place a weight on top of it to squeeze the water out. Leave the tofu for 30 minutes, until it weighs around 180g. Remove the woody part of the asparagus, then cut each spear diagonally into thirds.Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan, then add a little salt and lightly cook the asparagus for a few minutes. It should still be firm when drained. Cool the spears under cold running water and pat them dry.

Put the tofu in a bowl and add the ground sesame seeds, sugar, light soy sauce and miso and mix thoroughly. Add the asparagus to the bowl and mix into the dressing, seasoning with extra salt if required. Serve!