My Secret Santa gift for a work colleague who always takes her teabags travelling.
I’ve been unintentionally stockpiling onions over the last few weeks, so tonight, I made my first ever batch of caramelised onion marmalade. First impressions are good, but I’m looking forward to trying it with some goat’s cheese once it cools and the flavours develop. This with cheese on toast has got to be a winner for post-gig late night fridge raids.
There’s a morbid fascination I have with watching attempts from older generations to document yoof culture, and this public education film from 1949 sits nicely on that cusp of being a bit cute, a bit funny and a bit like you want to gnaw your own arm off in embarrassment. Extra points are awarded, as always, for double entendre, casual stereotyping and suggestive application of candyfloss.
But I love this kind of thing, and this is my blog. So there.
Weird Nautical Scene Bathroom Tile Enhancement Kit. Only suits man with everything where everything includes weird nautical scene bathroom tiles.
Simple lined tote with front pocket and iphone pouch. If I’d spent as much time sewing this badboy as I spent ripping clumps of thread out of the feed dog, I’d have made a whole bunch of them by now.
Contradictory forces are at play just now. Some bits of me are saying I should be travelling and trying out new things, while other, equally noisy bits demand I should be staying in my nest, making cool stuff out of all the gorgeous materials I brought back last time I went away. So at the weekend, in the spirit of discovery and exploration, I embarked on an adventure to Possil (if you know Glasgow you’ll know that’s true) and paid a visit to SeeWoo. I am in love with this place. You can easily spend an hour wandering around in the heart of it, smelling stuff, touching and weighing things in your hands and feeling like you’re somewhere really, really far away.
With that in mind, I decided to make a big pot of phở gà tonight, and I’m so excited about the result, I’m going to share the recipe with you. If you can stick with me through this, the outcome will be a big bowl of liquid happy. Feed it to your girlfriend and she’ll love you forever. Feed it to estranged family members and generations of dispute will melt away. If you make this recipe, people you don’t even know yet will want to sleep with you. Not convinced? You’ll just have to make it. I’d let you try some of mine, but I don’t want to make your husband jealous.
Fist up, you’ll need to go to SeeWoo (or wherever your local Chinese supermarket is), because you’ll need Vietnamese mint, and this isn’t like ordinary mint. It’s sort of aniseedy and gives the phở a really clean flavour. While you’re up there, grab a bottle of fish sauce, because you can get a ton of it for the price you’d pay for a silly wee bottle in Asda. Also pick up some rice noodles and a jar of Sambal Oelek.
A word on Sambal Oelek: it’s powerful stuff. I totally overdid it the first time I used it, and I only used a teaspoon. Unless you are a hell-bent masochist, you really only need a pinch.
The rest of the bits and pieces in this recipe are readily available at your local Kwik-E-Mart. Getting hold of Vietnamese mint is the hardest part, followed by trying to get the noodles out the packet without bits pinging all over your kitchen. The rest is quick and easy.
1. Get a big bunch of coriander and separate the leaves from the stems.
2. Boil up some chicken stock (I used two litres which worked out about right for two big bowls) with a couple of roughly chopped garlic cloves, a squirt of fish sauce, a star anise (you could also get this from the Chinese supermarket if you don’t want to get completely screwed over), about a finger of ginger, sliced, and the chopped up coriander stems. If the coriander had roots, chuck those in too.
3. Let it simmer for about ten minutes while you thinly slice a couple of chicken breasts and make yourself a cup of tea. Then, get a sieve and drain the stock into a container. You can get rid of all the gunk that’s in the sieve; that’s over now.
4. Put the stock back in the pot and add the chicken. Bring back to the boil and give it about another 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, boil the kettle and soak the noodles for a couple of minutes in hot water till they’re soft.
6. Once everything’s ready, drain the noodles, put them in the bowl you’re intending to eat from, chuck in a handful of beansprouts and pour over the chicken soup. Sprinkle with the coriander leaves and a handful of Vietnamese mint leaves. Last, add a lemon or lime wedge and a teeny-tiny bit of sambal oelek. Munch. Repeat.
I ate loads of lovely food in Vietnam, so I’ll be trying more recipes out in the coming weeks. It’s not all about the phở, y’know.