Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A grey and windy afternoon saw me boldly declare to my workmates that I would be attending my first bikram yoga class of the year. After feeling very groggy upon waking up all week, and generally battling getting to work, I thought maybe it would help flush out all the toxins and leave me well-slept, refreshed and glowing.
It was, to put it quite simply, 90 minutes of hell.
I went just before Christmas, and herewith whinged that wines were a much better pre-christmas-madness escape. I was positively euphoric after the first time I tried it, but dear oh dear, today was tough. Swinging wildly between wanting to spew and wanting to pass out, I persevered with the "90 minutes of open eyed meditation." Only just. I tried hard to clear my head, and control my breathing and hold it together, but I spent a lot of time in the savasana corpse like pose and all I really found myself doing was thinking about how this weekend might end up and what I might have for dinner.
Staring at myself in the mirror, and sweating like you would expect someone stretching every muscle in their body at 38C to be, I made it, as harrowing as it was. A walk home in the aforementioned wind (bliss!) and a brief regaining-of-my-equilibrium on my bed (also bliss) once safely at home meant I was (only just) physically able to make myself dinner. Home alone and feeling delirious, virtuous and hungry, stir fry with soba noodles was the only answer.
When I was flatting during University I ate a lot of stir fries. I did in fact once flat with a guy who ate pretty much nothing but a stir fry of frozen veges, with some sort of flavoured tuna, served on rice, every single night. I've had some pretty good ones over the years, although back then they tended to be flavoured with something out of a packet. With a little more culinary nous up my sleeve, I was happy to make up the sauce to accompany the veges we tonight had in the fridge.
There's pretty much no rules to a stir fry, and I'd challenge anyone who thinks they can't cook to make one that's inedible. Ok, maybe over saucing or flabby veges would be unpleasant. But really! Anyone can do it! And if you think you have nothing for dinner, if you have a few veges and a few key ingredients you should easily be able to whip up a healthy meal.
There are a few key things to remember. You want your veges to retain some crunch - this is one meal when laziness and impatience will serve you well! You also want a good ratio of stir-fry mix to your accompanying carb (noodles or brown rice for example). Apart from that you can just adjust to suit your taste. A wok is useful, but a frying pan will do, and is more useful if it has a handle (ours currently doesn't).
Post-bikram Super Stir Fry
Take whatever veges you have in your fridge. Carrots, broccoli, red onion, carrots and courgettes and all good options. Tonight I went with red cabbage, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower.
Cut the veges that have florets into florets, and matchstick your carrots (again with the laziness, I usually don't peel them and leave them fat and uneven. Nutrients!). Put in your pan with about a half centimetre of water in the bottom and bring to the boil, stirring them round a bit. This essentially blanches the veges without cooking them. Think of it as just taking the edge off. As soon as the water is boiling rapidly, remove from the pan, drain the water and set the veges aside.
Cook your soba noodles according to packet instructions (they're a japanese buckwheat noodle and I use the organic Hakubaku brand). This involved adding a bunch to rapidly boiling water and cooking for three minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, whip up your marinade. I am not an expert in Asian cuisine (I will however take this opportunity to brag that I do make a mean khao soi) and I merely went with what my addled brain thought would go together.
In a small jug I added a dash of oil, a forkful of peanut butter, about half a teaspoon of crushed garlic, a generous pinch of chilli flakes, a decent dash of soya sauce, a teency dash of fish sauce and a splash of oyster sauce. Whisk well with a fork and adjust to your taste.
Heat a splash of oil in your pan or wok, over the highest heat you've got. Add the blanched veges, and the red cabbage (which doesn't need blanching). Pour over the marinade. Add the noodles. Mix it all up, for about 2-3 minutes.
And you're done. Dinner in about 15 minutes, healthy and damn tasty. A nice and calming way to overcome the effects of the hour and half previous. It's a love-hate relationship though really - just quietly, you'll probably be feeling wonderful and glowing by the time you sit down to eat it. You might even be feeling ambitious enough to battle chopsticks. Go forth! Stretch, sweat and stir fry!