I refer to myself as a lazy cook.
That’s not to say I hit the microwave meals every night I’m home. More that if I can find a cheat’s way that works just as well as a longer way, I’ll use it. If I can find something that will help me create something nutritious and (more importantly) taste good, again, I’ll use it.
So it’s no surprise that I love a good spicy sauce or two. Used in the right way they can be an addition to your finished dish (good mango chutney and a curry), they can be a quick add when you’re missing an ingredient (Tabasco in the place of fresh chillies) or simply dip into – yes we’re back to the mango chutney but with poppadums this time. Or maybe even Thai crackers and chilli sauce.
And it’s no secret that I love spice. I have a (big) bottle of sriracha both at work and at home. I adore sambal – that sweet, salty, crunchy so-hot-it-sets-your-mouth-on-fire heat. And I adore kimchi.
So when Encona asked if they could send me something spicy, I had to say yes. Again, I’m no stranger to their sauces – what would ackee and saltfish, or brown chicken stew be without a bottle of pepper sauce to add to the spice.
Whatever the level of heat you prefer, there’s a sauce style for you – because they’re not just about spice. Even those described as ‘hot’ have a real fruitiness to them.
For me, they can be a the best friend of a lazy cook.
Marinade chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer) in a sauce of your choice, chuck it in the oven for 20 minutes, and you’ve got a quick, tasty dinner. Just add salad and a baked potato and you’re done, or add chips for a spicy take on chicken and chips.
I even made a (very) lazy (and inauthentic I’m pretty damn certain) pepperpot stew with the Extra Hot Pepper Sauce – adding it to the beef and vegetables, along with thyme, allspice and a bay leaf before leaving it to cook slowly for a couple of hours.
But my favourite dish of the weekend was something based on a recipe of my mum’s. Marinades are a great way to add flavour with naff all effort, and as I had heat and pepper, all I needed was a little help from my store cupboard for a Thai inspired stir fry. It’s easy, tasty, and I bet you have most of the ingredients in your kitchen at home.
- 300g Beef sliced into strips (you could use chicken or pork if preferred)
- 2tbsp Encona Hot Pepper Sauce
- 2tbsp Encona Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce or chilli jam
- 2tbsp Sake (or rice wine or dry sherry, or even vodka)
- 4tbsp Soy sauce
- Small piece ginger grated (about 1cm)
- 1tbsp coconut oil, or vegetable oil for frying
- Pack of stir fry vegetables
- Pack of ready to wok noodles (or dry noodles soaked in boiling water until almost cooked)
- Put everything except the oil, vegetables, noodles and beef into a bowl, dish or tub.
- Mix until combined.
- Add the beef and cover.
- Put into the fridge - preferably overnight, but anything from 30 minutes will do.
- When ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok.
- Add the beef, keeping the marinade reserved in the dish/tub.
- Cook the beef for three minutes, stirring, then add the vegetables.
- Cook the vegetables for a minute, then add the noodles, and the reserved marinade.
- Cook til the marinade has formed a sauce, coated the noodles, the beef is cooked and you can't resist it any longer and you need to eat it all.
- You can cook the beef as a separate stand alone dish, simply omit the vegetables and noodles.