It was the first chance I’d had all week to really cook. Having eaten a lot of crap, I wanted something that tasted fresh and good for me as well as delicious. I was shopping for one, and it came to my attention that prawns are one of the few things supermarkets sell in individual portion sizes. They also fit the tasty/healthy requirement well.
I like to use king prawns with the shells on, because they make eating a bit more interesting. And I’m very wary of frozen prawns, for good reasons. When I first started to cook, I had even less common sense than I do now. We lived in a really cosmopolitan area of London, which was kind of poor and dangerous but had loads of independent shops stocking what seemed like exotic ingredients to me. The only other option for produce was Iceland, so I tended to go to the exotic stores. One night my family were all in late, and I was very pleased with myself for planning and shopping for a delicious evening meal. This was 7 years ago so I don’t remember the recipe but I did something involving pasta with a sticky garlic, pea and prawn sauce. I’d managed to find big frozen king prawns with their tails on, which would have been hard to find in Iceland. I’d cooked them from frozen due to time constraints.
I served it up and it looked impressive. I had just sat down when my sister asked my mum, “What’s the black bit?” The veins hadn’t been obvious when the prawns were frozen, so I hadn’t removed them, and my mum said we’d get sick if we ate any more and the whole supper was ruined. I think my sister ended up with toast for supper. But partly because I was a stroppy teenager whose feelings had been hurt and more importantly because prawns, peas and garlic are too good a combination to resist, I finished my bowl anyway. I was no worse for wear for doing so, but its no fun cooking for people and it not making them happy, so its not a mistake I’ll make again. Fortunately Sainsbury’s seem happy to de-vein them for you. And I’m hoping the comforting, tasty supper I cooked tonight makes up for it. V said he liked it, and he’s a Chinese visiting student, so that must mean something,
Put the kettle on. Finely slice three fat cloves of garlic, and roughly chop 250g closed cup mushrooms. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan, and add the garlic when it is really sizzling. Fry the garlic slices for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until crunchy and golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and add the mushrooms and 1 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar to the pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for ten minutes until softened, adding 1 cup frozen peas and 1 tbsp water halfway through.
While the mushrooms are cooking, cover 125g rice noodles with boiling water. When they become pliable, drain and refresh with cold water.
When the vegetables are almost ready, stir in 1 tbsp runny honey and 1 tbsp fish sauce and add 200g cooked prawns. Cook until the prawns are heated through, then add the noodles to the pan and mix well with a spaghetti fork. Serve with the crunchy garlic slices on top.