I have a bit of a split personality when it comes to food. Sometimes I just want to get meals out of the way, and eat really quickly – and I don’t care what I eat. This is often the case for breakfast on weekdays, where I just want to get on with work (but get properly fuelled) – so I usually go for an oatmeal-in-a-mug arrangement.
At other times I just want to take things slowly and put the meal together properly – and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cook. This usually applies on the weekends and sometimes in the evening too; when I want something satisfying, tasty, and interesting to eat.
So there’s often a trade off between packet-sauces and ingredients-based sauces. A typical example would be a stir-fry sauce: a brownish-liquid with a claim to be oyster sauce or plum sauce or hoisin sauce. I honestly couldn’t identify them on a taste test.
However, putting them together from ingredients is much more satisfying. So yesterday my meal plan subscription (they provide fresh ingredients and you do the cooking – just not the deciding or the shopping) gave me what was essentially a stir-fry. It was a really complex affair with cornflour on the beef and all sorts of other preparation, but the key thing here was the sauce. It had a bunch of ingredients:
- Light soy sauce
- Chinese 5 spice
- Muscvado sugar
- Beef stock
- Squeeze of lime juice
How much better is that than a store-bought packet! You have good control as to what goes in (let’s face it, who has read an ingredients list and understood every single ingredient?), and there is more likelihood of having individual characteristics of each of the ingredients coming through. So rather than being a gloopy generic flavour, you get hints of lime and the five spices and saltiness and so on. And it taught me a little bit about sauces too, something I don’t know enough about. It was completely worth the extra 10 or so minutes it took to assemble the ingredients rather than open a packet.
So I resolve: next time I make a stir fry, I’m going to look into making it from scratch.