I've been experimenting this week with how I make sauces, just simple sauces I mean, I suppose just the flavour element really - usually I'll add the flavours straight to the pan, but then I got to wondering if sometimes it would work better to have them separate.
So instead of adding the chilli, garlic, ginger etc to the sea bass I made the other night, I fried the sea bass first and then made the sauce to pour over it.
It worked so beautifully, I thought I'd next experiment with adding the sauce to the pan, but combining the flavour ingredients together first rather than adding directly one at a time.
Oh and I thought I'd also give my rice noodles a little flavour bath to infuse even more layers of flavour!
And this chilli squid with noodles dish is now my current favourite thing to make. I know it might look a lot of ingredients, or steps, but don't be put off, because it's actually really simple.
To make a huge bowl for a greedy one, or two smaller portions perhaps to have alongside something else, you'll need:
a couple of raw squid tubes - I always have a bag of frozen ones from the supermarket in the freezer and just defrost for ten minutes or so in a bowl of cold water
FOR THE NOODLES
a layer of dried rice noodles, soaked in boiling water (off the heat) for a couple of minutes
1/4 a cup or so of boiling water
1/3 or a piece of a chicken Knorr stock cube
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
FOR THE STIR FRY SAUCE
1 tsp demerara sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tsp chilli paste in oil (if you don't have a local Asian supermarket, it's easy to make your own chilli paste)
THE STIR FRY FLAVOUR INGREDIENTS
a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red birds eye chilli, finely chopped (use less or more to your taste of course)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
THE VEGETABLE INGREDIENTS
some vegetables - I had green beans which I cut into smaller pieces and carrot, again cut into smaller pieces - but you could add red or yellow peppers or sugar snap peas or whatever you like
a few cherry tomatoes, halved - I added these just because they needed eating but I really liked them in this dish, so will definitely include in future too
a few sprays of cooking oil, or a tablespoon or so of cooking oil
Cut open the squid tubes when defrosted (if frozen) and pat dry with kitchen paper then score on both sides to create a criss-cross effect before cutting into smaller pieces - rectangles, triangles, whatever you like!
Add the boiling water, piece of stock cube and dark soy sauce to a little pan, bring to the boil, stir to make sure the stock cube is mixed in well, remove from heat and add the noodles and then just leave them to soak up additional flavour while you prepare the rest.
Add all the stir-fry-sauce ingredients to a little bowl and stir to combine so it's ready to use, and prepare the ginger, chilli, garlic and the vegetables. Keep the tomatoes separate as they'll go in last.
Put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the cooking oil and then the ginger, chilli and garlic. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds until it smells good - keep stirring so it doesn't stick and add a splash of water if needed.
Add the vegetables and cook for two minutes, stirring - add a little more water if needed to stop it sticking.
Then add the squid and cook for another couple of minutes - some of the pieces will roll up into tubes and they'll all look lovely where the diagonal pattern was made.
Add the stir fry sauce and the tomatoes and cook for two minutes more, then add the noodles from their 'bath' - but leave any liquid that doesn't come with them behind, you don't need all that liquid.
Cook for another minute to get the noodles hot and everything stirred together - and then just tip out into a bowl to eat!