In The Kitchen With: Cat Sarsfield from Since No One Asked

In The Kitchen With: Cat Sarsfield from Since No One Asked

I've been writing words for Kalinko for the past year, but I also spend my weeks and weekends cooking, eating and writing a tri-weekly newsletter called Since No One Asked, where I figure out my feelings through food. Most of the dishes I cook have a strong Asian influence – usually Korean as that's where my beloved mother and ultimate food influencer is from – but I love food from the entire Asian diaspora. These are three meals that are super quick to whip up, feel like a hug in a bowl (my only aim when I'm cooking and eating) and use up all the cupboard essentials you probably already have in your house. 

Crispy Mushroom Bowl

For two people you’ll need:

  • 4-5 good sized oyster mushrooms
  • One egg, beaten
  • A wide bowl full of panko breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt, a sprinkling of chilli flakes and some pepper
  • 1 cup of rice + 1.1 cups of water
  • A big bowlful of chopped cavalo nero or some other leafy green
  • A thumb of ginger, grated
  • Two garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • Lots and lots of olive oil
  • Around a tbsp of chilli oil
  • A knob of butter
  • Kimchi, sauerkraut, avocado, chilli oil + sesame seeds for a final flourish

Cook the rice in the water (always a 1:1.1 ratio; and remember to let it rest for 10 minutes).

Cut the mushrooms in half, then dip each one in the egg + then into the panko breadcrumb mixture. Place on a plate to one side. You might have to refill the panko bowl, just remember to add the salt and chilli flakes again. Heat up the butter and chilli oil in a big-ish pan, then add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and cook until soft and fragrant (you might want to open a window – it’s going to get a bit spicy in the air).

In another pan, add a liberal amount of oil (it needs to not only coated but there should be a pool of it – you’ll need to add more later on so don’t stress about how much oil there is; it’s shallow frying!) – then once it's hot enough (place a chopstick in and there should be some bubbles) add your oyster mushrooms. Once done, place back on the plate.

Add the cavalo nero into your other pan and let it cook through. Then push the mixture to one side, add a little more oil and cook up the remaining panko breadcrumbs. Once crunchy, mix together with the greens.

Serve up with soy sauced and sesame oiled rice, sliced avocado with sriracha, kimchi and kraut, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and perhaps a packet of seaweed to wrap it all up in.

Pork Noodle Soup

For two big (and I mean big) servings:

  • 2 (Bonne Maman sized) jars of chicken (or veg) stock
  • 3 sausages, with the meat removed from its casing (obviously ignore if you’re going veggie)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger, grated
  • 1 thumb of turmeric, grated
  • 1 tablespoon of gochujang paste
  • If you have it – some chopped kimchi and kimchi juice!
  • A few teaspoons of soy sauce
  • A huge squeeze of sriracha
  • A handful of chopped spinach (if you can find proper big leaves, I think they taste better than baby spinach – these will disappear into nothing; if not, use kale or cavalo nero)
  • Enoki mushrooms (especially if you’re going veggie – makes it taste quite meaty!)
  • Your choice of noodles (for dinner I used a packet of ramen noodles –perfectly portioned for one person!; for lunch the next day, I used a small handful of thin rice noodles)
  • Coriander and chopped spring onions to serve
  • Chilli oil (optional)

In a small pot, heat up some oil and cook the sausage meat or pork mince. Break it up so it’s in pieces. Take it out then in the same pot (with a little more oil) cook the ginger, garlic, onions and turmeric. Add the meat back in once they’re soft, then add the gochujang and stir in. Then pour in the stock, plus a 1/2 -3/4 jar extra. Add the soy sauce. Throw in the noodles and mushrooms, and once they’re almost cooked, add the spinach. Squeeze the sriracha in, taste and add more soy sauce if needed. I added a little spoonful of Sichuan chilli oil for extra kick, and sprinkled over some chopped spring onions and coriander leaves.

Rendang Pasta

You’ll need:

  • 1 handful of your favourite pasta: this is fusilli lunghi
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 shallots, sliced lengthways
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and roughly chopped
  • Around 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • Lots of olive oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp of Rendang curry paste
  • 4-5 cavalo nero leaves, de-stalked (I like to keep the length on them so they twirl around the fork like pasta)

Boil your water with a spoonful of salt and cook the pasta until your desired bite (I like mine more overdone than al dente). In a separate pan, heat up a big glug of olive oil then add the anchovies until they melt, then goes the shallots and garlic. Keep the heat low-medium so nothing burns, just softens in the oil. I like to add some oil from the anchovy tin to keep it salty. Add the tomato paste and a little pasta water to loosen, then the rendang. Maybe some more pasta water. Taste and season. Once the pasta is done, add it to the pan and the cavalo nero. Add more pasta water to loosen, but just remember to keep tasting so you don’t lose the umami spice. Serve up and finish with lemon zest, chilli oil, salt and pepper, and a showering of pecorino. 

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