Like most of you I enjoy carving time out, so to speak, to cook a nice meal. But when pressed, I love making morsels in minutes: simple and speedy with few ingredients, usually for lunch… like a couple of egg whites— if they happen to be hanging around in the back of the fridge.
Had I made aioli last night I’d have a couple and I’d get them and I’d put them to work pronto: whip them into shape and call them a Vietnamese omelette. Lunch sorted.
Heat a pan with fat, spread your whites out thin, drop in chopped scallions; cilantro if you have it; roll it up and hit it with fish sauce while the pan is still hot. Tip it out onto a board and slice it on the bias. Eat as is, or on top of fried rice and peanuts. Takes less than a minute.
It might be homemade oat cakes with a chunk of cheddar, a dollop of chutney and a cup of tea. It’s often a can of mackerel with a pickle or two. It could be Sunday’s chicken leg dipped on Monday in mustard and eaten cold and on the run.
Or for old time’s sake, just a cup of cold coffee and a piece of cake. Or, as my dad wisely points out, really, all you need is a little pâté, some smoked salmon, soup and bread.
And that’s all very fine; but, there are days when you open the fridge and you bend down and slide the vegetable box open in a hopeful state and all you see is last week’s cabbage. But wait, there’s a forgotten wedge of radicchio in the corner; and what’s that parsley doing there? And that bacon’s gotta go. Well then, in less than ten minutes you can whip up a variation on a slavic classic: a turmeric bacon coleslaw for one or more. It’s nothing less than a simple cabbage salad. Now, if only I had some fennel to sliver in.
Here’s my rough guide:
Get a pan on and fry a few strips of bacon until they’re crispy. Remove from the pan and put the strips on a paper towel.
As you’re doing this, get another pan and lightly toast off 1/4 teaspoon each of coriander and mustard seeds.
Grind them in a mortar, add a pinch of salt, a few twists of black pepper and a generous sprinkling of turmeric powder.
Shred cabbage finely and put it in a bowl. Add some whole leaves of flat leaf parsley and some shredded radicchio.
Mix the spice mix from the mortar with the shredded cabbage in the bowl with your hands or another suitable tool. Add olive oil and a cap-full or less of red wine vinegar. Toss and taste. Adjust and eat.