It’s the evening of New Year’s Day. I reek of sunflower oil. As does my favourite black-and-white spotted wrap dress, as does the torn Jim Beam t-shirt I changed into halfway through cooking, to try and protect the dress from any further oil splatters.
Don’t light a match near me, is all I’m saying.
It’s a family tradition to meet on New Year’s Day, prepare, cook, and then eat, a MASSIVE Chinese stir-fry with multiple dishes. In the absence of my mother, my sister has stepped up to Head Chef, and I was drafted in as Sous-Chef, Pourer of Alcoholic Drinks for Head Chef, and Washer-Upper. My father made himself Scarce.
Four woks (including the special huge cast-iron one), one griddle pan, and multiple bowls, plates, dishes, spoons, stirrers, shovellers and implements later, we are all absolutely stuffed. Even my usually hollow-legged 8-year old nephew is whimpering about feeling a bit sick.
Fried “Seaweed” – Recipe, Anxious-Sister
– Vegetable oil
– Ground sea salt (rather than table salt – it’s worth getting the proper stuff)
– Bag of spring greens
– Small bag of unsalted cashew nuts (optional)
Wash and pat dry the spring greens, and slice off the stem part from the bottom.
Pour yourself a drink, as this prep bit is extremely tedious. (Anxiouscook can take no responsibility for any injuries resulting from the combination of vodka and sharp things).
With a sharp knife, slice out the central vein from each leaf, plus the main veins branching off on the sides (you can ignore the smaller sub-veins).
Roll the remaining leafy parts up like a thin cigar, then slice widthways across the “cigar”, each width being around 1/3 cm. Ideally each little slice should then fall into a loosely curled spiral.
Put in a bowl.
Repeat, until all the leaves are processed.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a wok.
Add a generous handful of the greens to the oil. Gently stirfry. When it has crisped (there may be a few brown bits), remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen towel, and then into a warmed serving dish.
Add the next handful to the wok and repeat. A decent-sized bag of greens, chopped and processed as above, should make around 4 such handfuls.
Briefly heat the cashews on a baking tray in the oven.
Scatter the cashews and some sea-salt over the dish of greens. Serve.
Stirfried Summer Vegetables Recipe, ancient and grease-splattered 1980s generic Chinese Cookery book
– Garlic clove, chopped finely
– Two spring onions, topped and tailed, chopped into chunks
– Half a TBSPful ginger paste
– Two TBSPful soy sauce
– Two TBSPful dry sherry
– One TBSPful sesame oil
– Vegetable oil
– Handful mange tout
– 7-8 baby corn-on-the-cobs
– Half a small bowlful frozen peas (defrosted)
– Three small leeks, chopped widthways
– One large carrot, chopped thinly widthways
– Tin bamboo shoots, drained
– Three large button mushrooms, skinned and sliced thinly widthways (optional)
Heat a couple of spoonfuls of vegetable oil in a wok.
Throw in the spring onions, garlic and ginger. Heat for around 30 seconds.
Add the rest of the veg, and stirfry on a high heat for a few minutes (depending on how crunchy/soft you like your veg – we did about 6 minutes in the end).
Mix the soy, sherry and sesame oil. Pour over the veg.
Stirfry for another minute, then serve.