Convenience isn’t always about using your store cupboard bits and bobs. Convenience, for me, is often about avoiding leaving the house. I know. I live in a big city about 10 minutes walk away from a supermarket and 2 minutes from a reasonably stocked corner shop, but some days I am so deep in cabin fever / cosy / lazy / attached to my pjs, I will do anything to just stay indoors.
So, if I want a sandwich I may delay it so that I can bake the bread. Yes, I do that. Not often, but I do. That is also because I can’t stand the really processed stuff and the bakery is, well, 10 minutes away, but you know, I don’t want to leave the house (and I like baking). Or, if I need peanut butter to cook someone else’s store cupboard supper, I will make it at home rather than walk 2 minutes to the corner shop. The result is a much better peanut butter and the effort is not too great.
If you work from home (all the time, not just occasional days), you will understand this sophisticated form of cabin fever. When working from home I hold myself captive, until it spirals out of control and then I become a little weird and try to arrange everything so that it happens within a few metres of my living room. I need to get an office, with a kitchen, can someone arrange that, please?
Back to that peanut butter. Yesterday was OFM Sunday, and this months issue had a lovely feature on store cupboard suppers. I have several of my own, we all do I am sure, but I was intrigued by Fuschia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles, and decided that it would be my next lunch. But I had no peanut butter. No matter, I did have lovely blanched peanuts which I roasted until a lovely light brown and fragrant, which I then threw in my food processor with a generous pinch of salt, and whizzed until I had a paste. Pure, unadulterated, joyous peanut paste, or perfect peanut butter. At this point you could add oil to lengthen it or sugar to sweeten, but for me this is perfect, and exactly what I want.
Fuchsia uses Clearspring dried udon, happily I have those in my store cupboard too. I made just a few changes, adding prawns and coriander leaves, as I had them, and sherry vinegar instead of the Chinkiang (I have a lovely sherry vinegar which I bought in Spain, which has a similar richness). I also briefly sautéed the garlic to take the sharp edge off.
The recipe follows, I have adapted it as above, and for one person.
(If you aren’t aware of Fuchsia Dunlop already, she is the author of several wonderful books. I particularly recommend her beautiful and informative memoir, Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper).
Recipe: Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles with Prawns
1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp Chinese chilli oil (with lots of the tasty bits)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp water
125g dried udon noodles
flavourless oil to sauté the garlic and prawns
8 large prawns, raw are best as you can cook them just so, as they should be
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry wok or frying pan, over a gentle heat, until golden. Set aside.
Sauté the garlic in a tsp of hot oil for one minute. In a bowl, use a spoon to mash the peanut butter with the soy sauces and vinegar until evenly mixed. Stir in the chilli and sesame oils and the garlic, with enough stock or water to give the sauce the consistency of single cream.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. When the noodles are almost cooked, cook your prawns for a couple of minutes until just pink.
Drain the noodles well and add the sauce, mixing well. Sprinkle with the cooked prawns, spring onion greens and toasted sesame seeds. Mix everything in, and eat.
Thank you Fuchsia!