In re: 15 minute meals?

While my wife and I do a lot of home cooking, I often don’t do it in the simplest, quickest, cleanest manner.  I often use a lot of pots, pans, bowls, spoons, plates and produce a dinner that takes up a good chunk of the evening.  Part of it is over ambition and part of it is failing to prioritize time over product.  Every now and then we plan out something and put together a quick dinner or on nights after a big production when we are just warming up the leftovers.  But scratch cooking in a quick time wasn’t always our strong suit (or at least mine).  I wasn’t evening thinking about my wife’s goal of speeding up dinner on some weeknights when I stumbled on a tv show by Jamie Oliver (oddly shown on CBS on saturday mornings) called 15 minute meals.  The show is a british show from a few years back which has been edited for the US (mainly by adding warnings to not do anything he does, i.e. chop food quickly, put your hands near a hot pan, or really anything with the slightest risk).  Not being a show intended solely for US audiences is generally a good thing as from what I’ve seen, the UK has some really good cooking shows and I am really confused why we don’t get more of them shown here? (Nigel Slater’s shows and Hest Blumenthal’s both come to mind).  Regardless despite being a show focused on finishing prep start to finish (minus his tea kettle boiling water) in 15 minutes, it’s actually pretty good.  Now I don’t think most people could actually make these meals in 15 minutes unless they start timing after they rounded up all the ingredients and set them out, but still makes for a quicker meal than many we do.  So using that mind set and some inspiration from one of the show’s we made an Asian beef noodle salad.  As you will see in the picture, the salad is a casual affair, setting piles of ingredients out next to each other on a big platter.  Part of the appeal for me of Jamie Oliver’s cooking style is showing people how casual they can be with putting something like this together.  Grate a big pile of carrots right onto the platter and one, move on.  The salad consisted of rice noodles, lettuces, cucumbers, watermelon radishes (which look just beautiful sliced thin on a Japanese mandolin), pickled ginger, cilantro, cooked onions, diced thai chilies, some steamed wontons and beef with five spice rub.  (The steak I used was frozen so I cooked it sous vide to rare to both thaw and precook it, I then seasoned and seared it on a cast iron griddle – not exactly a 15 min meal, but the sous vide is unattended.)  To serve we just grabbed what we wanted and dressed the salad on our plate with a dressing that was pretty similar to a vietnamese Nước chấm (fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, garlic) but we changed up the ratio a bit with some rice wine vinegar to make it a bit more like a salad dressing.  Ended up being a great dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.  Hopefully we can keep the fast (but good) meals mindset up as having some more time in the evening is definitely a nice thing.



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Nước chấm