Friday, 19 August 2011

Nasi Goreng: add your own showtune here...

It's that time of year again when our thoughts turn to new shoes, a new pencil case, and of course - what to put in our packed lunch box. For me when I was at school it was always sandwiches - peanut butter and banana were my favourite - and one of my best friends Liz, taught me well that you add the banana at lunchtime so it's not brown! These days I really struggle with sandwiches - Mark has them every day, and when I try I just find them dull. As an alternative I tend to go for salads in the summer (this week, pea shoots, feta, prawn, tomato and sprouted seeds - also known as everything that was reduced in Sainsburys).

In the colder months, I have a lot of homemade soups, sometimes with homemade bread (when I'm watching what I eat, without), also leftovers. Now these aren't practical for a child's lunchbox unless you have a thermos - Lakeland do some pricy, but wide necked ones that I think would be amazing for my lunches, actually I look at them and think about ordering every time. There has to be a cheaper alternative for kids out there and I'll keep my eyes peeled.

With my lunch I have fruit - a lot of fruit, this week it's black grapes, plums, a banana and an apple and normally a Nakd bar. This allows me to graze throughout the day at work, which works for me if I don't have time for a proper lunch break. Mark has crisps, a sausage roll, peice of cheese, cereal bar, a banana and some dried fruit. We're quite different, but it's what suits us best.

 This week, I'm having a Pantry take on Nasi goreng - an Indonesian rice salad. Unusually for me,  I'm straying into the realms of cooking with tofu for the first time. Now, I had most of the base ingredients in my fridge and pantry, but had to buy the tofu, and edamame beans. However the amount of lunches this has made is extraordinary. There's definitely enough for the rest of the week, and I'll portion out the rest in the freezer for next week too. You could serve this hot - in a thermos or if your office has a microwave, or eat it cold as a rice salad.

 Penelope's Pantry does Nasi Goreng

Light olive oil
2 cups of brown basmati rice - cooked and cooled
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp lazy chilli
2 thumb size peices of ginger grated
4 spring onions finely chopped (all the way up - use the green parts too)
1 cup of chopped red pepper
1 cup of edamame beans (I used frozen)
1 cup of sweetcorn (again I used frozen)
200g tofu (I used smoked) finely chopped
2 eggs beaten
3 tablespoons of soy sauce

Cook the rice in double the volume of boiling water (I use Delia's infallible absorbtion method) and leave to cool down.
Heat up some olive oil in a big wok or large pan, and when it's hot, add the spring onions, garlic, chilli and ginger. Cook through until this mix becomes aromatic - stirring all the while
Add the rice, and stir through so that the base ingredients aren't stuck on the bottom of the pan, but are mixed through (this way your garlic won't burn and go bitter)
Add the pepper, edamame beans, sweetcorn and tofu and cook through, stirring for about 5 minutes
Make a well in the middle of your pan and add your beaten eggs. Stir them so that they scramble and then mix through the rest of the rice
Cook through for another couple of minutes and then add the soy sauce.

Now I've tasted this and feel it's missing something - thinking back to my Lifechanging soup (TM) I think it's the sourness that it needs an edge - a friend has recommended adding a tablespoon of the pickling vinegar from a jar of pickled veg. I don't have any in, so will go without but would add that as a change for next time.

I think it's worth mentioning that traditionally Nasi Goreng would have chicken and prawns added, but costs at the moment mean I'm reducing my meat intake again. The tofu worked out far cheaper for the quantity that this made. Whilst the eggs make this unsuitable for vegans, those could easily be left out, and if you're a hardened carnivore or pescatarian again, amend it to suit you.
So that's my packed lunches sorted for the forseeable. A tasty, veggie alternative to sandwiches.

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