I want to start this post by saying thank you so, so much to everyone who has liked, shared or commented on my various posts announcing the birth of my first book, Do Yourself a Flavour. It’s pretty nuts to be able to say that I’m an author, so please do enjoy this meme made for me by my wonderful friend Hugh:
There will be more details to come, book-wise, but for now if you fancy getting up to speed, you can read my FAQs here, which includes links to pre-order if you fancy Doing Yourself a Flavour and having my literary baby delivered to your door on publication day.
Urgh click HERE to get to the goddamn recipe, Freeborn,
or continue reading if you’d like to eat some thoughts:
On a slightly related note, something that’s been niggling me for a while now is the name of this blog. I started Student Cuisine for the Gloomy Teen in 2017, when I was an actual teenager and I thought I’d probably end up working in recruitment after my degree. Now, having graduated (and having run a mile when I was recruited to work in recruitment by a recruiter), its name is no longer fit for purpose: although my budget isn’t all that much larger, I am, admittedly, spending more cash on olives and cheese these days, plus my erratic freelance writing schedule (week-long writing stints fulled by tea and toast, followed by a few days of layaboutery) means my cooking also follows a feast-famine pattern which isn’t especially relatable for students. Or working professionals. Or anyone, really, who isn’t in the business of selling their innermost thoughts for money via the medium of words.
Additionally, as I’ve got more into the food sphere over the last two years, my cooking has progressed from throwing together bits and bobs with half an understanding of what’s going on, to really dissecting each element of a dish, how it all works, and why. This means going deep, deep down into YouTube holes and Reddit threads. It means reading research papers on the amino acid prevalence in certain vegetables. It means my jar collection now hogs so much fridge space that I have to work out where else to prove my brioche overnight. I know, I know.
And for those of you now worrying about the book – don’t. I put it together it at a time in my life when I lived in a sodding campervan and hadn’t decided I was going to be a foodwanker yet. It’s designed to be as accessible as possible for anyone starting their cooking career in shared, cramped kitchens, and reflects my own time as a student who wanted to eat well with limited(ish) means. You can count the ingredients you can’t buy at Lidl on one hand (tahini, harissa, bulgar wheat are by far the fanciest things – all found at any of the other big four), and you only need the most basic of equipment to make the dishes. Essentially, It’s a culmination of Student Cuisine for the Gloomy Teen up until now. From here on, though, I feel I’ve got to own up to being a proper writer – not just one larking about on the side, dipping their toes in now and again and giggling about people obsessing over their gluten networks. Oh, how the turns have tabled.
I’ll probably change the name of this blog at some point – suggestions extraordinary welcome; naming things is bloody difficult – but for now, here’s a recipe which uses fish sauce and chilli crisp rather than just a stock cube and some hope.
L and I spend most weekends away doing daft stuff up various mountains, so Sunday nights are usually a throw-something-together kind of affair. We tend to fall through the door about 7pm, grunt at each other while we sort out kit, and then it’s suddenly 9pm and we both want to clamber into bed. To go to sleep, just to clarify. But we need dinner first.
This is a rich, coconutty, soupy broth type thing with vegetables in it and an egg on top. It takes under 20 minutes if you use your microwave wisely and have all of the things on hand, something I feel many recipe writers sort of don’t talk about. I’ll suggest some subs if you don’t have all of the things. It’s a hodge-podge of different cuisines, including Thai and Indian, so I’m just going to call it sweet potato in a rich coconut, lime and chilli broth. Because that’s what it is. It’s really good, by the way. You should make it.
Ingredients to serve 2 hungry peoples
- 1 tin of FULL FAT coconut milk
- 1 huge sweet potato, around 500g (you can use normal potato if that’s what you’ve got)
- A mug of broccoli florets, or mangetouts, or peas (optional but nice)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 medium brown onions
- 500ml of stock made with 1 stock cube (I used beef, you can use whatever you like)
- 2 teaspoons of fish sauce (if you’re vegan, use additional soy sauce instead)
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes, less if you’re not spice-tolerant
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- ½ a teaspoon of cumin
- ½ a teaspoon of ground coriander (Sub bold ingredients for 1 tablespoons of whatever curry powder you’ve got)
- The juice of a lime
- 4 spring onions
- Two eggs, possibly more if you’re very hungry (feel free to sub prawns, cooked chicken, tofu or whatever protein you like here)
- Oil of choice for frying onions
- Chili crisp oil (optional)
- Some peanuts (optional)
- Fresh coriander leaves (optional)
Start by peeling your sweet potato and cutting into inch x inch chunks. Put this into a microwave safe bowl with a splash of water and cover with a plate or something. Microwave on high for 8 minutes or until completely soft.
Meanwhile, find a medium saucepan with a lid. Chop your brown onions into 1cm dice and sweat on a low heat with the lid on in 2-3 tablespoons of oil plus a pinch of salt, for about 5 minutes. Chop your garlic during this time, then when that’s done, add it in, plus all your spices and chilli flakes. Continue to cook all this, stirring occasionally with the lid off, until everything is very soft and only lightly coloured. Make up your stock if you’ve not done so yet.
Your sweet potato should be done now, so remove it from the microwave and add it to the pan, along with the stock and the coconut milk. Add in your green vegetables here, then plop in your fish sauce and soy sauce, then let that come to a simmer before squeezing in one half of your lime. Taste it and ask yourself if you need any more salt. Squeeze in the other half of the lime if you think it could do with brightening up a bit more. Leave this on a very low heat to cook everything though while you fry your eggs in a separate pan.
You probably don’t need me to tell you how to fry eggs but you might like to know that if you chop your spring onions finely and sprinkle them all over the eggs before the whites are set, you’ll get spring onions melded into your egg whites and it’s lovely. You might also like to know that drizzling the chilli crisp oil around your eggs are they cook is a great idea too. This works also for prawns and tofu, or whatever form of protein you’re adding.
Once your eggs are done, ladle your soup-broth into bowls and slide the eggs on top, along with the rest of the spring onions which have clung to the egg pan or the chopping board. Crumble a few peanuts over, and then dot a teaspoon or so of chilli crisp over the top of everything and sprinkle with a small scattering of chopped coriander. Lavley.
* Lewis knows it’s my kitchen. We share all the other rooms. But it’s my kitchen.