No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over the fact it took me twenty-five years to realise that the églantine [rosehip] I use on a daily basis at the restaurant is the gratte-cul [itchy-bum] of my childhood; the one thing my dad used to tease me with when we went to the mountains with the hopes – most of the time, fulfilled – that our baskets would be full of chanterelles, sanguins, trompettes des morts, and other mushrooms by the end of day.
Last Sunday, I finished working at six. Now depending on where your heart belongs, you might think: version one ‘What the heck where you doing at work on a Sunday?’ or version two ‘Lucky monkey*! Sunday was a busy night and I didn’t finish until one am.’
Empty fridge and all, I was planning on feeding myself with what had been the du jour menu at my house for the past weeks. Pan-fried gnocchi – that my very own private-chef made when we had a slumber party and that were since stashed in the freezer – with an amount of garlic only a French girl** could take.
It’s delicious. And you should try.
But somehow, on my way home, I read Kim’s words on why instant ramen matters. And before I knew it, I was waiting in line at Waitrose for what seemed an eternity, with the added pressure of dropping a bottle of sweet chilli sauce on a floor that is so neat and shiny it would make anyone squint. Not that this happened.
Talk about a fun way to spend an evening off!
But then, I heard sesame oil sizzle. And I smelled garlic and chilli. And I tasted. Without even burning my tongue.
A bowl of soup and lovely skype session – made of slurping noises and hmmmm – later, I knew this soup would become the new garlic gnocchi; which happened to be the new pizza sandwich.
And because I realise an illustration might not be enough to get you to your kitchen, please let’s take a minute to bless my flatmate and his tripod, without which the photographic scene you’re about to see would have been impossible***.
Sweet chilli seafood ramen
When it comes to cooking, I can’t bring myself to weighing ingredients. It might be the fact that of the seventeen hours at the restaurant, at least three of them are spent on front of scales. Or maybe, it’s simply that to me it’s more about the taste-right feeling than the grams.
I hope you feel this way too, because this soup is seriously comforting. And perfect for this time of the year when you’re not sure whether winter is over or not.
Sweet chilli seafood ramen
Makes a very large bowl of soup.
Heat a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil in a large pan. Add a handful of scallops and prawns. While they caramelise, chop a chilli pepper and a couple of spring onions. Throw them along with the seafood. Grate a fat piece of ginger, the zest of one lime and a few garlic cloves over the pan and give it a good shake. Deglaze with half a litre of water and bring to the boil. Add a nice dose of sweet chilli sauce, a dash of soy sauce and a drizzle of fish sauce. Mix in a handful of fresh peas, spinach and rice noodles. Top with torn coriander leaves. Eat from a large bowl. And please, do make slurping noises and hmmmm.
* edited for smooth reading. The original word being less than formal.
** not that I aim to convey the fact that French guys are on the weak side.
*** both literally and figuratively. Beauty to my eyes, and yet not the most appetising picture.
Fears paralyse me. And not knowing what to say in reaction to such chaos, I remained silent.
Right now, it feels like the world has been hit by a wave. Forcing us to reconsider our insecurities.
And in this kind of world, I am – everyday – happy to have crocs on my feet, a sleek grey apron around my waist and a blue oven cloth – or as I like to call it, torchon – in my hands. Routine is what keeps us grounded when we need it the most.
An alarm snoozed a couple of time.
A breakfast made of coffee.
A bus trip, because no matter how sunny it is today, it’s still way too cold for bike rides.
A day of mise-en-place and service.
A night of mise-en-place and service.
A field trip to my bed.
And yet, there are still some moments spent thinking about my friends. And Keiko, Tamami and Chika. I wish for the best. The best in the worst, if that can make sense.