Thursday, September 07, 2006

spicy sichuan noodles and pillow rice

WITHERS has been hired as The Bodyguard this week. But to be perfectly honest he's no Kevin Costner and is unlikely to get jiggy with Witney Houston any time soon. Nor for that matter is he being paid the crown jewels.
In fact, Withers has been left in charge of Pillow for the week. And, to me, that's the equivalent of naming Charles Kennedy as designated driver on a night out.
To be fair it's a tough job and if Withers fails he knows his neck will be firmly on the chopping block (stir-fried Withers head anyone?). Pillow, you see, is Kempy's cat. And Kempy loves her cat. Then consider that Kempy is Withers' boss and realise that all he has to do is leave the front door open or allow Pillow to overdose on Whiskas and he may find himself neutred in his prime.
So what is Withers' price for such a harrowing challenge? Free use of Sky Sports for the week. On his first night as Pillow's minder he watched into the wee small hours, woke up on the sofa at 5 in the morning and breathed a sigh of relief when Pillow appeared on cue for breakfast. Talk about taking your eyes off the prize!
Anyway, Withers hot-tailed it home early from the pub last night to do his duty (pure coincidence that Italy were playing France on Sky Sports 3 in a repeat of the World Cup final) and I wandered home soon afterwards after a quick beer with Brammy. No Carling lager so I perused the pumps and opted for the one with a Harp on it.
"I'll have a pint of Harp," I said.
When it took about five minutes to pour I reminded the barman I was still waiting.
"These things take time," he said, finally producing a beautifully poured pint of Guinness. Then the lightbulb went on above my head: The Harp is the symbol of Guinness. What was I thinking? I don't think I've seen Harp lager on sale for many a year. Anyone remember Harp lager? Doh!
Got home and needed something quick and filling. Out comes Ken Hom and I make straight for the Spicy Sichuan Noodles. The secret ingredient? Peanut butter!
First you marinate 8oz minced pork in 1 tablespoon dark soy, 2 tsp rice wine, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles for 3-5 minutes until done, plunge into cold water then stir in 2 tbsp of sesame oil.
Then start cooking sauce in wok. You need:
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped ginger
5 tbsp chopped spring onion
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp dark soy; 2 tsp light soy
2 tsp chilli bean sauce
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
8oz chicken stock

Heat wok till hot, put in oil and heat until smoking.
stir fry garlic, spring onions and ginger for 30 secs.
Put in marinated pork and cook until the pinkness has gone.
Add all ingredients and cook for 2 minutes.
Add noodles and mix well in.
Serve up and then add crushed sichuan peppercorns if liked.

I dished this up with stir fried chinese greens.
The recipe says Pak Choy but I've never found this in a supermarket so I use Bok Choy - don't know if it's the same or not, but it works nevertheless.
Heat up a frying pan, add oil, slice up three garlic cloves and throw them in with salt. Whisk around for 10-20 seconds then add the Bok Choy. Let it whither slightly then add 2 tablespoons of chicken stock or water. Cook for a further three mins and serve so cooked but still fairly crisp.
Be warned, the noodle dish itself can be VERY filling. I had to save half of it for another day.
At the same time Withers was reheating his spinach and cheese curry (Yes, I was shocked, too, but apparently it's very nice - hope he didn't give any to pillow, though).

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