Mustard seed mayhem


It was the bean spouts what did it. I only know two things to do with them – salad or a stir fry. So working backwards from a vegetable stir fry it seemed like Chinese tonight.
There were store cupboard (well, freezer) king prawns and a bit of a bag of small ones, and lurking in the store cupboard proper a jar of Thai red curry paste.
So chop, chop later and we had the ingredients for:
The prawn curry – fried off mushroom slices, added three big teaspoons of the paste and fried that off too. Then one of those tiny boxes of coconut cream and two finely chopped red chillis: the paste said it wasn’t hot. Left to stew, the prawns, now defrosted of course, added just a few minutes before it was piled into the serving dish.
The stir fry had lots going in it. First some leek, then sliced fennel strips, two colours of pepper, small chunks of aubergine and some garlic. I’d started the fat in the wok with some mustard seeds and the first veg hit the pan as they started to fly all over the kitchen. The trick is a very hot pan, lots of stirring, and not letting the veg steam but really fry. Finally the bean spouts and some pak choi. A splash of fish sauce and some dry sherry and into a hot dish to wait for the …
Fried rice. Precooked long grain, chilled down so every grain is separated. Into the wok some more light oil, chopped leek, mushrooms, courgette – whatever as long as its cubed and small. Then work quickly – the rice will stick if you give it half a chance. Wizz about till well heated then push all to one side. Break an egg into the space you’ve made in the pan and with the heat still on full, bash it about to scramble/omelette it. When it’s cooked smash it up and distribute through the rice. You should be able to see flecks of yellow egg. I like a splash of rich soy sauce at this point, but you can leave that to the eaters.
At the moment of serving the dishes, stir in chopped coriander leaves into the curry, sprinkle masses of whole plucked leaves onto the veg – the aroma is delicious.
Hot bowls. Chop sticks for authenticity. Forks for greedy.
The only, only drawback of such is a meal is the endless washing up, a wrecked stove – all that heat – and bloody mustard seeds underfoot…..
(PS it means shrimp, prawn etc)