I wish I was a magician. Or a witch. Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Harry Potter and because I have a kitten now, feel it impossible to not pretend I’m going to Hogwarts with my own Crookshanks in this icy weather.
The country has gone mad it seems, for fairy tales and magic. BBC has their Magicians programme, ITV with their Penn and Teller- Fool Us, and the two new films that show very different versions of Snow White coming out soon (Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror). Maybe I have been watching too much HP but I’m thinking the world’s gone mad crazy wanting to be magic. Like me. Insert smiley childish face.
These television programmes and films show that it’s not just a particular audience that magic inspires, it truly is because ‘magic’ appeals to everyone. Everyone loves a good secret or in terms of cooking, ‘concoction’. When I was young I remember being amazed that my mum could produce all these types of foods and ingredients, and you can’t help thinking we’ve kind of developed a ‘witch nature’ with all our casserole dishes and the means to keep all our different aromatics in our pantries. Like most magicians and practicing witch’s, I like to experiment in the kitchen, and although things don’t usually seem like they would work from the outset sometimes, you have to always stick to the game plan and hope for a miracle, or indeed ‘wait for the magic to happen’.
So there I was, armed with nothing in my bank and hardly anything in the fridge either; apart from the staples and an abundance of oriental sauces, (We got them a few weeks ago in our ‘we WILL make Chinese from stratch phase’) So I got out my cauldron- sorry SAUCEPAN. Yes- saucepan, and started making a oriental soup with some Italian pancetta.
Half way through I was beyond doubting this would come out well, but alas here I am with a recipe entitled with arguably the best magician in all the land- Houdini.
It works, firstly because I made it work but secondly because actually the aromatics that infuse pancetta such as fennel, peppercorns and nutmeg really do already exist in oriental cooking. So, go figure.
Magic in reality (and in food) really is a good bit of lovely faith and sometimes-good coincidence eh?
So if you’re feeling frugal and in good faith, why not be Houdini for a day?
Houdini’s Kind o’ Oriental Soup
Groundnut or flavourless Oil
1 or 2 spring onions
100g of cubed pancetta or any form of Lardons
2 Cloves of chopped garlic
A diced small cube of ginger
100g of Green Beans chopped (or darling, whatever greens you have in your cupboard!)
1 vegetable stock cube (To make 1 ½ litres of stock)
2 tablespoons of Japanese gluten free soy sauce (I actually use Clearspring’s Tamari soya sauce)
2 Tablespoons of Fish sauce
1 dollop of Gluten free Oyster sauce.
1 packet of fine Rice Vermicelli noodles (or which ever you fancy!)
Squeeze of lemon or Lime
Before you start cooking on the heat, make sure you get all your ingredients out ready and prepared- it’s so much easier when making oriental food. So chop up your ginger, pancetta, garlic, and greens. Get your sauces and stock cube at the ready.
Put a glug of olive oil in a deep pan on a low – medium heat. Add in your pancetta, ginger and garlic until it all sizzles wonderfully.
Prepare your stock with boiling water in a jug, add in the fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Give it a good stir.
Pop your stock in the deep pan with the pancetta, ginger and garlic, followed by the greens.
Season with a bit of black pepper and lemon/lime
Let all the ingredients come together for a good 20 minutes on the hob, stirring and tasting occasionally.
Add in your packet of Vermicelli noodles and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
Season, once more to your taste.
Serve your noodle soup in a big bowl and eat in cold weather for true magical comfort.