Every day is barbecue day when you’re in China

One of my favourite things about my trip in China were the ubiquitous barbecues. From about 5pm until around midnight, you’ll find barbecues on every other street corner (and long after midnight you’ll still find some scattered here and there, although much fewer). They look a bit like this, usually:

barbecue guy in Jilin

Long and thin, perfectly sized to put all your skewers shoulder to shoulder whilst preventing the ends from falling in and burning to ashes. Normally there would be a big table with a tonne of different skewers on there – beef, pork, chicken, tofu, but sometimes also fish and usually a nice selection of vegetables. Each skewer costs anything from half a yuan (0.06) to maybe 5 yuan (about 0.70) for the more expensive ones.

In Scotland, or in Europe in general, when people decide to have grilled meats after regular dinner time, it’s usually because they’re drunk. The Chinese don’t seem to be heavy drinkers, which must mean that they’re just awesome! Any day is barbecue day in China, and any time can be dinner time, or snack time, or general grilled meats time. I had a fuckload of barbecue dinners, because they’re so convenient: you can pick what you want to eat yourself, so it requires very little deciphering of menus and trying to speak Chinese to impatient waiters. (Incidentally I also had a whole load of drunken barbie snack times, but that’s another story for another day.)

This man saw quite a lot of my drunken face, as he was stationed right outside my hostel in Shanghai. The guy was a gem - he knew my favourite skewers after one night.

This man saw quite a lot of my drunken face, as he was stationed right outside my hostel in Shanghai. The guy was a gem – he knew my favourite skewers after only one night.

Picking your skewers required a certain degree of caution and care – Chinese tastes are distinctly different from your average European taste, and although I would like to brag I bravely chewed my way through duck’s face and chicken’s claw, I can’t say I was tough enough to even order them. The skewers usually looked innocent enough, but sometimes you’d find yourself stuck with something like chicken cartilage or pork toes when you were expecting something really quite different.

With the vegetables, however, you could never go wrong, because they were always goddamn excellent. My favourite skewers were the ones with garlic shoots and the ones with needle mushrooms, and I always made sure to grab a few of those no matter what. They’d be grilled in no time, covered in a red, spicy oil that really just made everything and anything delicious (even the chicken cartilage, once you got over the crunching sounds).

Here’s a selection of the most delicious things you could get from the night-time barbecues on half of China’s street corners. Some of these items require a little bit of a quest, but if your city has a large-ish Chinese supermarket, you’re sure to find everything you need there. If you’re currently unable to barbecue, for example because you don’t own a barbecue, or because the weather is shit and will be for the next six months, you can use your favourite griddle, which is what I did.

tasty tasty inside barbecue

Go and get:

  • some very lean beef – about 200gr will make you 8 skewers, because we’re making thin slices
  • some needle mushrooms – 100 gr will make for 10 parcels
  • some thinly sliced bacon or pancetta – for making the mushrooms parcels, one slice per parcel
  • some garlic shoots – about 150 gr for 6-8 skewers
  • some garlic chives – about 150 gr for about 8 skewers

Also, for the delicious oily substance:

  • 8 tsp of sunflower oil
  • 3 tsp of red paprika
  • just a pinch of chili powder (really, don’t exaggerate, I made that mistake so you don;t have to)
  • one tsp of salt (which seems a lot but isn’t, when you think about how much stuff you’re spreading it out over)
  • 2 tsp of cumin – I like whole seeds, you can use powder if you want
  • half a tsp of sugar

I asked the guys from the shop if they knew more about this oil. They were convinced it was oyster sauce I had been eating all this time. I’m definitely sure it wasn’t, but oyster sauce is delicious, so I bought a bottle anyway. If you feel like mixing spicy oil is out of your sphere of interest, go oyster sauce.

Some notes on the ingredients.

The needle mushrooms were the most difficult item to find in my case, especially since they’re apparently not in season just now – I got some in a tin and some slightly more fresh-looking ones in plastic, which worked fine. See what you can get and work with that. In case you need to ask at the shop, they’re called jīn zhēn .

The garlic shoots I managed to find here are a little thicker than what I usually got in China, but the flavour is the same. They go by different names in different parts of China, but I asked for suan miao which seemed to work.

Then there’s garlic chives, which are also known as Chinese chives (and apparently also as Oriental chives and Chinese leek, because to Hell with consistency and logic) and these are really awesome. They’re from the garlic and onion family and they were completely new to me. Chinese shops with a decent vegetable section should sell these. Ask for jiǔ cài.

funky ingredients

Start by making your spicy oil. Just take all the ingredients from the ingredients list and chuck them in a bowl together. Mix well, and that’s it.

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Now start on your skewers. Cut any wooden-looking bits of your garlic shoots, then cut them up in pieces of about 8cm. Put about 8 of those on a skewer together, brush lightly with some spicy oil and grill them.

Wash your garlic chives and put them in a colander for a while. If you need to, gently dry them off with a clean towel. Now grab a skewer and start piercing the bits of the chives where it’s round and not leafy – you’ll see what I mean. Thread a few on a skewer, push close together and grill them. These are prone to drying up and burning, so lather them with spicy oil before you start.

this is how you skewer thin, sticky vegetables

Depending on what needle mushrooms you got (fresh or from a tin), they’ll be completely cleaned and ready to use, or not. If not, cut off the bottom bit (which will probably be a bit brownish), then gently separate the mushrooms, taking care not to rip their heads off. Grab a slice of pancetta, roll your mushrooms in it with the heads still poking out. Do this to all of them and grill them. Easy on the oil, they’re quite greasy and fatty already.

needle mushrooms are so exciting

Cut up your beef in really thin slices and impale them on a skewer. As before, brush with oil and grill.

Better yet, do all of the cleaning, cutting and impaling first, then grill everything together. Serve with Chinese tea or Tsingdao!

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The Chinese delicacies I promised are here

Ní hào, and welcome back! I hope you all had a lovely summer. I sure did. In China. Where I was. Which was awesome.

If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll know that there’s no way to explain this beautiful but strange country. If you want to share some of my feelings, check out this video. It was the number one hit while I was in China, which meant that you heard it in every shop, taxi and bar. It takes you through a whole range of emotions, from initial curiosity, to surprise, puzzlement, bewilderment, then acceptance and finally joy and exaltation – pretty much exactly what my trip in China did to me.

There’s two things that everyone knows about China: it’s very, very, VERY big, and there’s lots and lots and lots of people. Because everyone always mentions this whenever someone mentions China, you think you’re prepared for it before you go. But tell you what, you’re not. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of people in and the size of that country. It’s overwhelming. It’s also a slight problem if you want to go anywhere, because trains are often sold out – you might be able to get a standing ticket, but on a 20-hour trip, that’s not really a viable option. Inexperienced foreigners like me would never be able to get to the more comfortable patches of floor and I’d probably end up sleeping next to or in a toilet.

I ended up changing my itinerary a few times to adapt it to what was available, and ironically I took a big detour to Sichuan in order to arrive to Shanghai sooner – tickets from Xi’an were sold out until about two days before my flight would leave from Shanghai, but from Chengdu there were a lot more options. This was great, because it meant I could finally try the famous cuisine of Sichuan, which I would have missed out on otherwise. However, it also meant that I was constantly running around catching trains and buses to new places, and by the time I made it to Shanghai, I was exhausted.

So what do you do when you’re exhausted? Something you like, something you’re good at, something that relaxes you: I went to do a cooking course! I learned how to make a few dim sun dishes, but the favourite – everyone’s favourite, ever – were jiaozi, or dumplings! These are not the steamed type, but the fried ones like you see in Shanghai quite a lot. Slightly more unhealthy, but delicious all the same. The original recipe asks for all kinds of funky products that are kinda hard to come by around here, so I’ve tried to make them with ingredients that are more readily available here in Italy. Worked out just fine. Still, go on a quick trip to your local Chinese supermarket, it’ll be fun and you’ll find some of the slightly more exotic stuff there.

dumplings dumplings

For about 20 dumplings, which is enough for 2 people to stuff their faces, or as a starter for 4, use:

  • 150 gr flour
  • about 100 ml of warm water

filling:

  • 225 gr of pork sausages – normal or spicy, or go half and half like I did
  • one shallot
  • 2 tsp of grated or very finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of white wine – strictly speaking Chinese cooking wine, but if you can’t find any, regular white wine will do
  • a pinch of sugar, salt and white pepper

to serve, optional:

  • some sesame seed
  • some spring onion
  • Chinese black vinegar, or any kind of vinegar you have lying around

Here, have you ever had that moment where you read a recipe and you think, “Jesus, sesame oil, I’m not gonna buy an entire bottle of that, what else am I ever going to use that for”? Well, for this! Buy some now, you won’t regret it.

Before anything else, make the dough. You pour the flour onto your work surface and you make a little volcano with a moat, like so:

flour volcano with flour moat

Pour in about half of the warm water, and start mixing it – use your hands or something like a spatula if you prefer. Add more water if you need to – the dough needs to be very firm and not sticky, but smooth. To get it firm and smooth, you’ll need to knead quite violently. You’ll know when it’s done, you’ll see.

Now grab a rolling pin and start rolling out your dough like so:

rolling dough step 1 rolling dough step 2 rolling dough step 3 rolling dough step 4 rolling dough step 5

Repeat until your dough has a good consistency. Now roll it up tightly, and pack it in cling film. Put it aside, it can have a little rest while you make the filling.

dumpling dough

For your filling, squeeze the sausage meat out of the sausage and into a bowl. Finely chop your shallot and add it to the mixture. Add all of the liquids and the sugar, salt and pepper, and mix well. That’s your filling done, easy as that.

dumpling filling

Back to the dough.

You grab your dough roll and chop it in half (for easier handling). Now start rolling it out into a long dough snake, which you chop up in about ten small pieces. These pieces you put on their side (so that the spirally side, which after all this rolling shouldn’t be too spirally anymore, is up). Squeeze them together a bit more, then flatten them down with your hand so you get small round pieces of dough.

Roll these pieces out with a rolling pin (or a bottle, if you don’t own a rolling pin). There’s a technique to this: you roll the rolling pin up to the centre of the dough circle, holding the other half with your fingers. Then you rotate it by only a few degrees, and you repeat. This way, you’ll get perfect dough circles that are large and thin enough to fill and fold closed. You want a diameter of about 10 cm. (Do the same with the other half of the dough, of course.)

Now you can start the filling and folding. Place a dough slab on your hand, put some filling in (as much as possible whilst still being able to close the dumpling well – this might take some experimenting at first), and squeeze it closed at the centre. Then make two more folds on each side: starting from the centre, fold the side that’s furthest away from you into the centre. This is difficult to explain – check out some pictures:

folding dumpling step 1 folding dumpling step 2 folding dumpling step 2 finished dumpling

Two folds on the left, two on the right, all directed towards the centre. See what I mean? I hope so. Squeeze all the folds hard – you don’t want your dumplings opening whilst you’re cooking them.

Heat some oil in a frying pan. When it’s pretty hot, gently place your dumplings in there. Medium-high heat, let them fry until the bottom is golden brown. Make sure you use enough oil – rotate the pan a bit so the sides cook, too. When the dumplings are golden brown on the bottom, add a small cup of water to the pan and stick a lid on. This way the tops will cook, too.

The dumplings will need about 6-8 minutes once you pour the water in. Take one out and cut it open to see if they’re done if you’re unsure.

Sprinkle some sesame seed and spring onion on top, and dip them in vinegar before putting them in your mouth.

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Goodbye to the dictatress, hello to the queen

Hello, and thanks for stopping by to wave me off! This is the last you’ll hear from me for a few weeks – tomorrow I’m off to China for a month. The next update, which I hope will be full of Chinese delicacies, will be on the 8th of September. I’m kinda nervous for tomorrow –  I speak about two words of Mandarin and I don’t even think I pronounce those two correctly, which essentially means I speak zero Mandarin. Plus, the country’s so massive that the distances I’ll need to travel in the month ahead to get from one city to the next, equal those I travel in Europe only about twice a year for foreign visits, crossing one or two countries on the way. It’s a fun and exciting project, but also a slightly daunting one.

The last time I went on a journey of this scale was almost 7 years ago. I went to India that time. I was a lot more nervous for that one (it was my first solo trip and I was the worst noob anyone there had ever seen), but in the end I had a blast, as expected. I was there for about three months, so occasionally I had little guilty pleasures in western-styled reastaurants that catered to foreign visitors. Not that I didn’t like Indian food (in fact, it was among the best food I’ve eaten in my entire life, no lie!) but nothing cures homesickness like a massive bowl of sugary goodness. Or at least, that’s how I felt back in the days – right now I’d probably just hit the bottle.

One of the desserts they served us backpackers in the more touristy places in India was something called Hello to the Queen. I’ve never been able to figure out its odd name,  but never mind that – all you really need to know about it is that it’s the most calorific, sickeningly sweet and obnoxiously indulgent pile of food you’ll ever lay eyes on. I ate a lot more sweet stuff then than I do now, so I’ll probably cure any traveller’s sadness with spring rolls or spicy soup this time (or, as I implied above, with an inordinate amount of Tsingtao), but here’s for old times’ sake. Goodbye for now, and Hello to the Queen!

hello to the queen hello to the queen

I only tried Hello to the Queen a couple of times in fairly similar versions, but I believe most places that served it had their own variation, so you can have all the artistic liberty you want. The base is ice cream with banana and crumbled biscuits topped with a sauce, after that everything is optional – add as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. Whipped cream is optional but recommended. It’s not in the picture because we didn’t have any and I’m too stressed out packing my bag and looking for my passport to bother going out to get it.

For two homesick or otherwise distressed individuals, use:

  • four scoops of icecream, any flavour you want but I just use vanilla
  • biscuits of your choice – I like the oatmeal ones but someone complained that they’re for people on a diet, so this time I went for chocolate chip with hazelnuts
  • 50 gr of dark chocolate
  • half a cup of milk
  • one banana
  • some cashew, hazel and/or pecan nuts
  • some whipped cream

First of all, put your milk and chocolate in a bowl and heat them au bain marie. Stir so that you get a nice and smooth, liquid mixture.

In the meantime, crumble your biscuits and cut your banana into slices. Now put your ice cream in a bowl. Top with the fruit and biscuits. Top with the nuts, if you’re using them. Top with the chocolate sauce. Now top with whipped cream. Eat immediately.

Hello to the queen Hello to the queen Hello to the queen Hello to the queen

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The Parisian scoop that wasn’t

Things don’t always turn out as you hoped, planned or wished. You might plan to have that left-over stir-fry for lunch, only to discover your flatmate got to it drunk the night before. You might want to use the last of that mozzarella for pizza tonight, until you realise that mould has made a home of it long ago. And maybe one day, like me, you will decide to finally put that melon baller to use, only to find that it is, in fact, a coffee scoop.

The silly thing is, I always thought our melon baller looked oddly deep for a melon baller (or Parisian scoop, if you will), but I figured that’s just the way Italians like them. I’d seen my flatmate use it before and she seemed to get on just fine. I hadn’t given it much thought, until I started scooping and I found the thing impossible to handle. Absolutely no grip, the melon wouldn’t come out because the little hole in the bottom of the scoop wasn’t there, and why on earth was it so deep? On closer inspection, why on earth does it say ‘café‘ on the bottom of the handle?! Ah wait… I guess that explains it.

coffee scoop

For your entertainment, dear reader, for you to feast your eyes on my delectable, smooth, spherical chunks of melon, I proceeded to scoop out balls of melon with the coffee spoon, splashing myself with watermelon juice and swearing under my breath. Then, after the picture taking was done, I took to the internet in search of a new method that didn’t involve a Parisian scoop. It turns out that there’s actually quite a number of much cleverer ways to cut watermelons than my way (halving it and scooping out balls). I ended up going for this funky 45° method for a pretty mess-free experience, as explained by this wonderful elderly type, because I was using up all of my melon and this was the most convenient. My favourite video, however, must have been this one, because it has such a funky character in it, and it shows you how to keep melons fresh if you’re not going to use it all in one go, which is normally the case in my life. Plus, he references his mother. References your mother is ace.

In any case, once you choose your preferred method of cutting, have a try at watermelon and mint salad. It’s just a fruit salad, really, but it’s pretty refreshing and something a wee bit different from your usual fruit salad. Nice for when it’s roasting hot.

watermelon watermelon

For a nice large salad that you can eat by yourself or share with friends, but what do you care, it’s watermelon, it’s mostly liquid anyway, use:

  • two kilos or so of watermelon
  • a large handful of fresh mint
  • 3 tbsp of clear, runny honey (I used a pretty plain, polyfloral one)
  • a good splash of sweet-ish white wine, because as I mentioned before, a dessert without alcohol is really no dessert at all

Start by balling or cutting your melon and put all of the pieces in a large bowl. Now finely chop your mint leaves, add them to the melon.

Mix your honey with your wine, try to make it into a more or less homogeneous liquid. Pour this over the melon and mint, now mix it properly. Do it carefully, or you’ll damage the melon.

Now let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour. If you’ve got time, go back to it occasionally and mix it so all of the melon properly soaks up all of the flavour.

If you’re a booze enthusiast like me, swap white wine for white rum!

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Italian for beginners

Italian has a bunch of boobytraps to trick unsuspecting foreigners like myself into making massive twats out of themselves. For instance, a lot of words will come in twin pairs: one masculine version, often ending in -o, and one feminine version, often ending in -a. The words will be identical except for the final vowel and they’ll have a completely different meaning, which means that, at times, they can be difficult to keep apart. An innocent example: il foglio is a sheet of paper, whilst la foglia is a leaf.

This wouldn’t be much of a problem if Italian wasn’t rife with obscenities and seemingly common words that are secretly also euphemisms for genitals of either gender. For instance, when I was still staying in Genova a few years ago, I told a friend that I couldn’t leave the house because the tit over our kitchen was leaking and I had to keep emptying buckets to stop the kitchen from flooding. I had meant the roof, il tetto. Instead I’d said la tetta. Just two letters off, different story altogether.

That one was funny, at least. It becomes embarrassing when you’re talking to people outside your immediate circle of friends. Imagine, for example, my horror when I tried to explain to the father of a friend what the whole story was with the Dutch and their clogs, but I actually told him about the Dutch and their sluts. It seems far-fetched, but with la zoccola I was really only 1 letter off lo zoccolo, which is how you say clog in Italian.

And then of course there was that time that I accidentally came out as a lesbian. I was just talking about food with a friend, and I mentioned I really liked figs with parma ham, or so I thought. What I said was “you take una fica and you roll it up in prosciutto crudo and it’s delicious!” I’ll leave you to guess what part of the female body Italians call la fica.

Anyway, I really do love fiche FICHI, fichI dammit, with dry-cured ham, so let’s have a shot at that, shall we? Fichi col prosciutto crudo, or figs with dry-cured ham. It’s similar to melon with ham, but better.

figs ham fichi fiche figs ham fichi fiche

As an antipasto, or small starter, for two, use the following:

  • one fig per person
  • about 100 gr of dry-cured ham, I used San Daniele, but use whichever
  • some fresh rocket
  • some olive oil
  • some balsamic vinegar

Slice your figs in wedges. In the picture there’s four piece on each plate but I actually prefer to divide the figs up in sixths – better fig/ham ratio that way. Roll each wedge up in a slice of ham.

Take some small plates and put a handful of rocket on each. Drizzle with some good olive oil, the arrange the fig wedges on top. Now drizzle the whole bunch with some balsamic vinegar and you’re ready to go!

delicious figs just some vag with ham, nothing to see here fiche fichi fiche fichi this would be so NSFW if it were and actual fica just spreading them on a bed of rocket

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My exciting new life as a boring adult

Since last September I’ve been a serious adult with a job. I’m really enjoying it, I have to say. It’s nice to have money to spend that’s actually yours and not your parents’ or student loans’. It’s nice to tell people “I’m a teacher” rather than “I’m a student”, which in reality only ever meant “I’m on the dole and pissing about until I figure out what to do with my life”. (That last part is actually still true in my case, but it’s less evident now.) I’ve taken on a set of boring responsibilities, such as paying bills, cleaning the bathroom of my house more or less regularly, moaning about ‘those damned kids outside making a racket’. I spend more money on cheese than I do on nights out these days. It’s all new and strange, but kinda nice.

Now that I’m a responsible, adult individual, I’ve also taken up boring hobbies! I’m enjoying my new boring hobbies. One of them is gardening. Do I have a garden? No. But I have a balcony and I’ve filled this balcony with potted plants and flowers. The balcony used to be off limits, as it’s partly attached to Blenderman’s room, and he wanted it for himself, but I slowly but surely invaded it, and now it’s communal territory. The neighbours have noticed, too: the other day the upstairs lady complimented me from her own balcony on my green thumb. I was ecstatic.

I’ve got a few decorative plants (snapdragons and petunias, but no geraniums, rest assured!) which are nice. My favourite plants, though, are the edible ones. So far none of my tomatoes and peppers have produced anything usable, but the herbs are rocking my socks off. I’m especially thrilled about all of my basil, of which I’ve always suffered a shortage in the past for which I am making up now. I’ve got about 15 plants, all of which are still growing and producing their delicious flavoursome leaves for my delight.

basil

Check out all my basil! In the front some authentic import from Liguria, in the back a greenhouse that I DIYed out of a polystyrene box and another little bucket of basil on the ground to the left.

Pesto’s already on the blog, so today we’ll go for something else that involves an abundance of basil: basil and courgette salad. This one’s pretty simple, but as a side it’ll impress your buddies’ and your own palate, no worries.

courgette basil salad

As a side for 4, use the following:

  • four courgettes (or more if you’re using the delicious tiny ones)
  • a nice handful of fresh basil
  • one clove of garlic
  • some olive oil
  • a small amount of lemon juice
  • salt to taste

First, wash the courgettes. Slice them in half lengthways, then make slices of about half a cm thick, halve those and boil them in salted water for 6 – 8 minutes. Drain and briefly rinse with cold water.

Wash your basil and chop it up quite finely. Put it in the bowl with the courgettes, then add a good splash of olive oil, some lemon juice and some salt. Slice the clove of garlic in half and add the two parts, too. You can remove this one later, it only need to give off some flavour.

Leave the salad to cool for at least half an hour. Remove the garlic (or eat it, I guess, if you really want to) and serve with maybe some meat or fish or whatever!

courgette basil salad courgette basil salad courgette basil salad

courgette basil salad

…and here’s another bonus shot of my balcony!

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And the Lord spoketh, “go forth, and copulate with thouself, for my wrath is upon thee”

Isaiah 24:3 And the lord saith, “Let there be a deluge, and let my aqueous fury pour down unto Turin, and let it smite the Turinese, for they have roused my anger.

Isaiah 24:4 And the lord senteth down his liquid anger onto the people of Turin, and they cried, “Behold, this summer is surely a ruin, for we have kindled the wrath of the lord.”

Isaiah 24:5 And the Lord sent forth his legion of mosquitoes unto those who dwelt in Turin, for they had roused his anger, and the lord saith

Isaiah 24:6 “Let the people of Turin suffer my wrath, for they are sinners, and they have not obeyed my laws.” And it came to pass. And the Turinese were much aggravated.

Or, in the King James translation:

And the Lord saith: Fuck the people of Turin, because they are cunts. I shall do everything that is in my almighty power to ruin their summer and they can just sit in the rain, scratching their mosquito bites all summer, thinking about what they did. Because fuck them and their puny mortal lives, see if I give a shit lol kthxbye.”

And that, dear people, is why I feel incredibly scammed just now. I came all the way from fucking Glasgow to avoid exactly this type of bullshit, and here I am, moping around the house whilst it’s pouring it down outside pretty much All. Goddamn. Summer. I am not impressed. Even when the morning looks sunny, you just know that it’ll rain by day’s end. What’s sun worth if you’re only waiting for the inevitable rain? Even if you’re not going to wear it right away, you still have to carry your stupid jacket around all day, anyway.

However, life goes on and by now, we’re sort of used to it I guess. I’ve got a holiday to a sunnier country planned later this summer, so that thought keeps me going. In the meantime, I try to keep my spirits up with summery food. If I can’t get sunshine, I’ll try at least to get something bright and radiant in my belly. Like ginger and carrot soup. Because to me, ginger is a really energetic flavour, if that makes sense. If sunshine had a flavour I imagine it’d be somewhat like ginger. So if you’re stuck in the rain, like me, and you need something to perk you up, have a try at this. You’ll feel better afterwards.

carrot ginger soup

For two or three, you will need:

  • a kilo of carrots
  • 4 -5 cm of root ginger
  • half an onion
  • one clove of garlic
  • one small potato
  • a litre and a half of veg stock, if you happen to have any (if not, make some now!)
  • half a cup of yoghurt
  • one dried chilli
  • salt to taste
  • some parsley to serve (or if you prefer, coriander, which makes for a completely different soup but is equally delicious)

First, prepare your veg stock if you need to.

Chop up your onion, your dried chilli and crush your garlic. Put all of it in a pot together with a little bit of oil and fry on low heat. Then, peel all of your carrots and slice them into medium sized chunks. Peel your potato and make small chunks. Peel your ginger and cut it lengthways, making thin slices. Chuck those into the pot with the rest of the stuff, then add some vegetable stock – not all of it, but enough to cover most of the vegetables. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and just let it simmer for about half an hour or so. Check if your carrots are completely soft by trying to crush a piece with a fork. If it crushes OK, you can start making a soup out of this thing.

Have a little taste of the liquid. It’ll probably be pretty gingery already. That’s why we’re going to fish out the ginger now. Ginger doesn’t blend well and you’ll be stuck with little chunks which aren’t actually that good, so the ginger is kind of like a tea bag in this recipe – you let is soak out its flavours and then you remove it. After you’ve removed the ginger, stick a hand blender in the soup and buzz that motherfucker up. Keep going  until you’ve got a smooth liquid.

Now you need to add some yoghurt, because the soup will probably be quite sharp what with all the ginger. Add about half a cup, taste to see if you like it and add more if you want to. Serve your soup topped with a little bit of parsley or coriander.

carrot ginger soup carrot ginger soup carrot ginger soup carrot ginger soup

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