My first reaction to Rory’s topic was: “I really think my comfort food is sour sweets”. I’m single-handedly propping up the industry when I go through stressful periods, which is 90% of the time and I love how timely God always is, as the most recent Blessed is She workshop is about finding peace in the middle of the storm. A topic I have a book about I mentioned when Liam died.
So I had to sit down and think. There are approximately 3 reasons (in no particular order) why I resort to comfort food, and they all have different recipes I reach out for.
Reason 1: Despite the fact my mental sanity depends on keeping a distance between my family and I, sometimes I get homesick, especially because illness, old age and death become a more haunting prospect every day. In these cases I reach out for venison in salmî or my mother’s lasagne. While they are great recipes they were too elaborate and required me to go buy the ingredients for the purpose of this post, which wasn’t ideal because Reason 3.
Reason 2: I’m sad, it could be about a guy but not necessarily, and I’m well enough to cook something that takes a certain amount of time and attention if you don’t want it to burn. Texan chilli con carne. I made that last night because I’ve been fighting a migraine yesterday morning, but I’m not sharing the recipe for that because I buy a spice mix so there isn’t really a personal touch.
Reason 3: I’m ill but not unwell enough that I need to get take-away delivered through a phone app while I contemplate my own mortality in bed. This is when I reach out to mock-Asian dishes. There is always something in my pantry that allows me to turn a “literally 10 minutes on the hob” dish into a resemblance of something decent.
Today I’m sharing with you my mock teriyaki from Wednesday evening, when I was battling the migraine in its more moderate stage but still not responding to regular painkillers so the last thing I wanted was to spend a long time standing just in order to feed myself, after the night before I had resorted to a cheeky take-out that just made the situation worse.
Meat or meat substitutes (I used a quick-cook turkey steak cut in pieces)
Vegetables (I used some of the huge bag of purple sprouts and a leftover onion for convenience)
Rice. Mine is Arborio Risotto Rice because that’s the most versatile and I don’t have space to have the right rice variety for everything. (I use a handful per person but the container looked cute)
Salt (I’m not paid by the brand in question for advertisement, in fact it was a freebie from Abel & Cole as well)
Flour (not pictured), if a thickening agent is needed.
The above quantity serves two small portions or a big one, which probably is a small one to some of you reading.
Step 1 – If in the UK, put the kettle on to speed up the boiling of the water for the rice. If from elsewhere, stop to contemplate why your culture does not encourage the use of electric kettles as they make life so much easier while the water boils on the hob. Throw the rice into the boiling water with a dash of salt. Let the rice boil while you cook the rest of the food. Note to step 1: check your rice cooking time against the cooking time of the meat/meat substitute to avoid overcooking the rice while the meat is still raw. You may need to adjust the order but my rice takes about 12-15 minutes from boiling and the meet was quick cooking.
Step 2- Cut the vegetables, put the vegetables into a pan (use oil if you need/prefer), season them and cook them, then set aside (you can use the same bowl you’ll eat from so less washing up to do)
Step 3- Do the same with the meat/meat substitute. I prefer this order so that the meat gets some flavour from the pan and because I find the meat cools much more quickly and tastes worse if cold than if the vegetables cool down, but maybe that’s just me. At the end of the day what we are trying to do is cook everything while the rice cooks. Do what works for you, this is advice, not divine revelation (even with Italian blood flowing through my veins). Remove the meat/meat substitute and put it with the vegetables.
Step 4- Put the heat on low and pour the soy sauce in the pan. Add the honey and stir to mix. Bring to a boil without burning it. If you prefer a thicker consistency add some flour until the consistency you want, but be careful not to overdo or it’d taste like flour, which isn’t nice depending on what flour you use (GF or corn flour are nicer thickening agents but if you bake a lot and only have regular flour that works too so no need to buy more). Throw the vegs and meat/meat substitute back in the sauce and stir until covered, it should also warm up a little. Turn off the heat, you may cover the pan if you want to clean another item or you covered it to cook the food quicker so you are cleaning it already.
Step 5- Drain the rice, put it in the bowl and cover with the mock teriyaki. Et voilà, ready to eat.