I’ve just had a massive clear out of cookbooks full of things I can’t eat these days or adapt. Twitter helpfully suggested the site We Buy Books which was as straighforward as anything involving a courier pick up from Hermes can be. So I’ve suddenly got a lot more shelf room and a sense of relief that the weight of reminder of all the global cuisines I can’t eat are gone.
I hadn’t realised how much it was bothering me to have those books looking beautiful on my shelves but almost taunting me like mean girls with all the things I can’t have. I’ve got a couple of replacement books stashed in my wishlist that are surprisingly fodmap adaptable. Rachel Roddy’s food for the Guardian (so I presume her new book will too) is often easy for me to tweak and Shu Han Lee’s Chicken and Rice sounds like my whole diet in one title. I’d forgotten about Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Fish and Rice until this week when I looked at my week’s diet and I think it might be up my street too…
Mackerel with sushi rice and cucumber salad. The mackerel is frozen fillets from Waitrose which seems to be the only supermarket that does them. I love love love mackerel unless it’s smoked and then I will gnaw my own leg off rather than eat it. I mainly blame the summer I moved to London and Atkins was all the rage and every single lunchtime at work was spent in a tiny airless room with people eating smoked mackerel and lecturing me that carbs would make me fat.
Just a whiff of it takes me back to being patronised and slightly daunted by moving to the big city. I continue to love it tinned on toast and any kind of unsmoked way and love these frozen fillets. I served them with vinegared sushi rice and cucumber with Chinese vinegar and a smidge of brown sugar. Delicious.
Poached chicken breast with rice and spinach. I never usually buy chicken breast because I can’t cook it with it drying up and honestly I prefer the brown meat of thigh, but I was cooking for someone who prefers the palest meat possible so bought it for once. I used this poaching recipe from Serious Eats starting it off in cold water infused with bay, black pepper and a splash of white wine.
It was beautifully moist and tender as we ate it but it cooled down to be dry and a bit tough sadly so still doesn’t solve my cold chicken as leftovers dilemma. I served it with basmati rice and my current obsession of Maggi liquid seasoning over the top. I’m on my third bottle since March and worry I may need someone to stage an umami intervention at this rate. (Before anyone worries about my salt intake here, I’m on a medically prescribed higher salt diet due to PoTS so this stuff is genuinely medicinal for me.)I was out for drinks on Tuesday night so my dinner was the meal of gods in the shape of two pints of Guinness and some chips with hilarious women. It also meant I had leftover well cooled rice on Wednesday to make egg fried rice with pork. Rice is one of those things people are scared by food poisoning wise, as is pork ironically, but I’ve never had a problem with either. I simply put any leftover rice into the fridge as soon as I’ve eaten my dinner which allows it to cool just enough to be safe from food poisoning without heating the fridge up.
And it’s so worth it for really good fried rice which relies on properly chilled rice. Any hint of warmth to your rice and it becomes a gluey mess but chilled to almost stiffness, it takes less oil and separates into easy egg coated morsels. It really should have peas but I can’t eat them and the only reason this had pork fillet in it was I’m trying to use one up as it is not a meat that freezes well in portions tending to freezer burn really quickly.
Back to fish on Thursday with this frozen hake fillet with tomatoes, black olives and brown rice. Another Waitrose frozen fish find, these hake fillets are brilliant. About every six months, I do a massive online shop at Waitrose.com (not Ocado) and fill my freezer with meat and fish as they have a minimum £60 order I can never usually fulfil. The fish lasts really well and they have a fantastic range of more than just cod.
They insist you can cook the fish from frozen but honestly I have terrible results with that every time so usually give it a defrost in the microwave first. Tonight I was lazy and chucked the frozen hake into a dish with halved tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, some tomato juice leftover from last week’s mince and put it in the oven for the 25 minutes said on the packet. It was still cold and raw at that point and took another 25 before I could eat it with some black olives scattered in and brown rice on the side for the only colourful meal of the week.
Back to brown food for Friday night’s tea. The tomato fest of the night before made me feel dreadful as it turns out tomatoes are a low fodmap food affected by portion size, variety and ripeness. I can apparently safely eat 4 cherry tomatoes at a sitting but assumed on the Monash app that the all green traffic lights for that meant tomatoes have no fodmaps at all. Plus I forgot that they are a fruit and thus full of my other nemesis fructose, especially when summer ripe. (Which if you can do these are Sunstream tomatoes from Lidl from England and they are almost homegrown good FYI.)
The whole day was spent feeling like a mule had kicked me in the head before taking turns to sit on my shoulders and stomach. I was also as grumpy as a mule and I wanted sugar to cheer me up. The other bit of pork fillet got turned into a fodmapped version of this caramel pork with long grain rice on the side. I left out the aromatics, added some Chinese five spice and it was really good and took less than 10 minutes to make.
I dithered about having it with rice noodles but I just wanted rice. Soothing comforting rice which can be served with a difference every night. You can see why it’s my other carb of choice after potatoes…