Now Mondays always get a bad rap, but I find it a great day to hit the reset button and get things sorted. I always try and start my week off with a clean meal, served mainly with raw ingredients, no booze or sugar, and refreshing flavours to prepare me for the week ahead.
Not much could’ve prepared me for this morning though, as it was filled poorly kitties 😦
But after all the shenanigans with them, I got down to business to plan the weekly meals. Now I never used to be this organised, but in the age of austerity it has saved a lot of time and money pre-planning our meals. Normally I do it on the weekends but as this weekend I was busy with Cowherd’s Cafe (a social enterprise cafe venture I am working on in Manchester) so I didn’t have the time.
Normally for me this means whacking seven days on a sheet of paper and trying to do a different cuisine each day. I find it keeps things interesting and fun in the kitchen and my tastebuds never get bored. They key to keeping a healthy diet sustainable is to keep it exciting. Similar to exercise, if there is too much of the same thing, you get bored and stop doing it.
Weekends are my cheat days and normally that means some sort of pizza (Italian food is my comfort food) and a traditional English Roast on Sundays with whatever drinks and snacks I want. Indulgence is good, in moderation.
To kick off Monday with a bang I found keeping it fresh, mainly raw really made my body feel good for the rest of the week. This usually leads me to cook from the Far East, with Vietnam and Japan firm favourites for their cuisines contain a lot of fresh ingredients that always reenergise my body 🙂
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Drink with: Floral white wine
or a nice light cider/beer/juice
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 40 min
- 1.5 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- can of bamboo shoots and/or 100g bean sprouts
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- baby corns
- 2 carrots, grated thickly or sliced into thin strips like the peppers
- half cucumber, sliced lengthways
- 3 handfuls of rice noodles/vermicelli
- 8 rice paper wrappers
- 12 beancurd ‘prawns’ or box of firm tofu, chopped
- handful of peanuts, chopped
Ingredients: Sauces/Oils/Pastes/ Etc
- sesame oil
- vegetarian oyster flavoured oil
- soy sauce (reduced salt)
- Onion seeds (Nigella Seeds)
- plum sauce (for dipping)
- hoisin (for dipping)
- chopped chilli (or a fresh red one of your choice chopped)
- chopped ginger (or a thumb of fresh ginger grated)
- 1 heaped tbsp of curry powder of your choice (typically I use madras or medium depending on the crowd)
- 2 limes
- handful of cilantro/coriander, chopped
Prep all the veg. I like to give mine a quick shower to make sure they’re clean & ready to go. I like to make things easy with a mandolin to thinly slice the peppers, carrots (or box grate) and spring onions, you can use fresh garlic, which I prefer, but always can use 1 tbs pre-grated garlic or 1 tsp garlic granules (which is shown). Set aside half of each of the veg except the broccoli. One half will be for the rolls and the other will adorn the Singapore noodles.
Put one half of the veg into a medium sized bowl, mix with 1 tbs sesame oil, 1 tsp ‘oyster’ sauce, 3/4 cup chopped peanuts, 1tbs chopped coriander,1tbs nigella seeds, dash of soy sauce. Set aside to assemble while noodles cook.
Get a large non stick wok/large pan out and put in 1 tbs of sesame oil. Heat the oil over medium high heat and stir-fry all the vegetables, except the beansprouts/bamboo shoots and spring onions, with the garlic, chilli and ginger until softened.
Quick Tip: If the broccoli won’t soften, add a splash of water to the wok and cover to create some steam. Pour boiling salted water over the noodles and leave to soften in a bowl and once softened; set aside.
Tip the veg on to a plate, add the rest of the oil to the wok then briefly stir fry your protein until your desired colour. Set aside with the vegetables and add the curry paste to the pan. Stir-fry for a few secs then add around 150ml water and 2tsp soy sauce. Allow to bubble then add the drained, softened noodles and bamboo shoots, and toss together to coat.
*if using tofu, use the other tsp of sesame oil and put in a medium sized pan. Dust the tofu in flour & fry over medium heat in the heated oil until it starts to get a nice brown crust. Make a small paste of spoonful of ginger, half spoonful of garlic and spoonful of hoisin sauce in a small bowl and set aside. You will add this to the pan right before serving, frying with the tofu for 2 minutes until fragrant, then chuck on the Singapore noodles.
I decided to give these beancurd wrapped faux prawns a try. They had mushroom, tofu and carrot on the inside with a vermicelli noodle wrapped around. I popped them into the oven at 200˚C with some coconut oil until nice and crisp on the outside, about 15 minutes. These definitely could be done homemade & will give it a try next Monday 🙂
While the Singapore noodles & veg are getting to know each other in the pan (turn down to medium low/low heat if browning too much) and the prawns getting their tan it is time to assemble the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. It’s dead simple, pop a wrapper in the warm water, let it soften, plop on the paper towel and dry, whack a heaped spoonful of your veg mixture in the middle, and tuck and the sides and roll!
This is a lot of trial and error, making sure there isn’t too much moisture and the wrapper is dry enough, but they’re quick & easy to make. By the time you finish these the noodles should be ready and cool enough to eat without burning your mouth off 🙂 Now take the vegetables/noodle mixture and your protein to the wok and mix with the spring onions. Toss well over the heat and serve with lime wedges.
Drizzle some nigella seeds/sesame seeds/black sesame seeds and squirt some lime juice & throw some chopped coriander for flavour and some great colour contrast 🙂
And there it is, a two course South Asian inspired meal thats not only a feast for the eyes but also for the stomach! Enough for a four person meal or two people supper with lunch sorted for the next day.