Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook will probably have noticed I post a lot of pictures of pies. Fish pies, turkey and ham pies, chicken and mushroom pies, steak pies, game pies, cheese and potato pies. This is because nine time out of ten when I suggest a meal, Him Outdoors says: ‘Can you make it into a pie?’
But an old friend has asked me to front a conference in a few months’ time and surveying what the moths have left of my working wardrobe I realise that hardly anything in it fits me any more. This is clearly a result of the Pie Diet. I am therefore trying to eat lighter food without sacrificing flavour. I have no idea how long this will last (probably until the end of January) because I am weak-willed. Also, I like pies.
I have never made a prawn pie, unless you count empanadillas, which you really shouldn’t because they’re only a mouthful. But I have just made this Chinese-inspired prawn stir-fry, which is really rather good even though it doesn’t feature pastry. To keep the flavours separate I cooked the prawns and the veg in two woks/pans. This requires a bit of last-minute juggling but apart from that all the (fairly minimal) effort goes into the prep. I added a small quantity of egg noodles to the veg – I know, recklessly sybaritic – but you can leave them out if you prefer.
Vegetarians could try swapping the prawns for marinated tofu. You’ve probably got your own favourite stir-fry methods and ingredients – mix, match and adjust as you like.
Garlic Chilli Chicken
Ingredients for the prawns:
About 150 g raw king prawns, shelled and de-veined
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2-3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium-hot red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced into rings
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of salt
1 tspn sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Ingredients for the veg:
1 tbsp vegetable oil + 1 tspn sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4-5 spring onions, finely chopped, green part reserved for the garnish
1-2 pak choi (depending on size) split into individual leaves
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced
A handful of chestnut or shitake mushrooms, sliced (tough stems removed if they’re shitake)
200g bean sprouts
Egg noodles (optional), cooked according to packet instructions
A small splash each of light and dark soy sauces, if you have them both
Fresh coriander, to garnish
Mix the chilli, sweet chilli sauce, crushed garlic, lime juice and salt, add the prawns and stir to coat. Marinate for half an hour while you prep the veg, see above.
To cook the prawns, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to a wok or deep frying pan and when it’s hot, stir-fry the prawns and their marinade until they turn pink, but don’t overcook them or they’ll be tough.
In a second wok, heat the same oil mixture and add the ginger, garlic and spring onions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, add the peppers and pak choi and cook for another minute. Throw in the mushrooms and bean sprouts and fry for a further minute, tossing the veg to keep them moving. Finally add the cooked noodles, stir-frying until they’re heated through, about a minute more.
Pour in the soy sauce, let it bubble up and mix it through. Divide the veg between two bowls, top with the prawns and spoon over any sauce left in the pan.
Scatter with fresh coriander and the chopped spring onion tops. Eat immediately.