You don’t get home till 7pm, it’s cold outside and you’re knackered. But you still want some good home cooked food. What to make when you feel like this can be a real dilemma. Over the years I’ve developed a number of dishes are a good solution to this particular problem. But in the winter the number dwindles drastically and the need for something hot comes to dominate. But this spicy little number is great whatever the time of year.
It’s superbly adaptable and is ridiculously quick to make. More assembling over a flame than actually cooking. I use my magic warming ingredient: Lee Kum Kee chilli bean paste – it gives a wonderfully pungent heat to any dish and has many uses. Here it suffuses the whole dish with its characterful heat, transforming a dish that is usually very simple and clean, into something almost meaty in character.
Chilli bean stir fry
I’m not going to list the exact ingredients because this is a dish that can be used with almost any veggie combination. In this case it was half a cabbage, some tired green beans, half a deep red pepper, a stick of celery and a small tea cup of frozen peas. To this I also added a handful of cashews to give it real nuttiness. And they combine so well with the chilli heat.
Other stuff you’ll need whatever veg you use:
2 cloves garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
.5 fresh lime
2 tablespoons of chilli bean paste
1 tsp caster sugar
A small scattering of dried chilli flakes
2 glugs of light soy
1 glug of Chinese rice wine
Noodles (cooked according to the packet instructions before you start)
Slice all the vegetables into equal sized strips before you start, finely dice the ginger and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a wok until it’s smoking hot and toss in the chilli flakes, the ginger and the garlic. Stir and fry for a few seconds until the aroma of garlic and chilli rises from the pan.
Add the crunchy veg (in my case the celery, pepper and green beans) and any nuts and stir and fry for about 2 minutes. Then add the softer vegetables (here, cabbage and peas) and stir and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
Pour in the soy and rice wine and stir, add the sugar and stir again. Drop the noodles in a bit at a time and gently toss them in the veg – this will help evenly distribute the sauce and veg through the noodles. Stir around for another couple of minutes until everything is piping hot, squeeze the lime over the top, serve and eat asap.
This dish is pretty resistant to cocking up, the only real thing to watch out for is not to over cook and not to stop stirring for too long because stuff will stick. You can use almost any veg from sweetcorn to pak choi, the only thing that wouldn’t work is something like aubergine which needs a longer cooking time to release it’s bitter juices and soften to edible luxury…