Happy Chinese New Year! Well, it’s nice to have something to celebrate on a Monday, isn’t it?
2016 is all about the monkey, which is thought to be one of the unluckiest years in the Chinese calendar. It’s possible that this only applies to new parents as people born in the year of the monkey are characterised as lively and mischievous so anyone expecting the pitter patter of little feet could well have their work cut out. Sometimes it’s good to be single.
People across the world might be welcoming in the New Year with a party, but as Storm Imogen is blowing a gale outside, I’m hunkering down with a blanket and a bowl of steaming vegetables.
I’m pretty tired tonight and in need of a vitamin boost after a day of meetings, black coffee and biscuits – unfortunately most brands of ginger nuts and bourbon creams are vegan friendly; otherwise I’d be skinnier. This simple stir fry is super quick to assemble and cook, and really healthy too. I did mine with spiralised carrots and cucumber but obviously any rice or noodles go equally well – but remember, that the meal will take a little longer to make if you’re using these.
Half an aubergine (I used one from a mini pack of four which I bought reduced in M&S)
Half a green pepper, sliced into strips
Two spring onions, thinly sliced
A handful of tenderstem broccoli (although the regular sort is fine)
50g (or a large handful if you can’t be bothered weighing) of cashew nuts
A quarter of a cucumber, diced
Two carrots/half a cucumber (or rice or noodles if you’re using them)
One green or red chilli, thinly sliced
A 2-3 cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
The juice of half a lime
Four tablespoons of soy sauce
A teaspoon of sesame seeds
Two tablespoons of sesame oil
A clove of garlic, thinly sliced or grated
A few coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
First of all, prepare your aubergine: slice into thin strips and place in a bowl containing a mixture of the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger and half the chilli. Coat each aubergine strip in the sauce so that it is absorbed and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Stir the aubergine and sauce mixture. You can start cooking the aubergine as soon as you like but the longer you leave it, the more the flavours will develop so I’d recommend going away to do something for half an hour or so.
When you’re ready to cook, heat a wok on a high temperature and when hot add the oil. Add the aubergine to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes then add the spring onions, broccoli, garlic and the rest of the chilli. If the sesame seeds stick to the wok, add a bit of water. After a couple of minutes, add the green pepper and the cucumber.
Finally, chuck in the cashew nuts and quickly spiralise the carrots and cucumber (or use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips) and add to the wok. Cook everything for another couple of minutes then serve in a dish with the coriander if you’re using it. You might want to add a touch more soy sauce, lime juice and sesame seeds (or chilli sauce/oil if you have it) but otherwise you’re good to go. Chopsticks are, of course, optional.