I am finding being back in London a bit of a struggle. Whilst it is something of a thrill being able to speak English to everybody, visiting favourite south-east London haunts and seeing comfortable old favourite London landmarks from the top deck of the number 12 bus, getting back into a regular routine is proving to be harder than I expected. Getting up in the morning is by far the most difficult part, and I find myself needing several cups of coffee before I begin to feel normal. By the evening, I am completely wiped out and good for no more than watching the Tour de France highlights and falling asleep on the couch. I think it’s the sudden withdrawal of the lengthy afternoon naps I enjoyed on holiday. Breakfast and dinner, as you can imagine, have suffered as a result.
Did I also mention that I am skint? Whilst being a fairly cheap country in comparison to the rest of Europe, Spain will still put a dent in your wallet if you spend two weeks eating out and visiting local attractions. All the more if you like wine. If you like wine and gin, well, you can guess how this ends.
When on holiday, I have the best of intentions for my return home. I will go to the market and buy lots of lovely fresh food and make wonderful, healthy dinners, I will exercise every day and will not eat chorizo with every meal. I will not drink at lunchtime. Of course, this is the guilt of eating chorizo with every meal and downing a couple of glasses of red before passing out on a lounger for an afternoon nap talking. The reality is vastly different. Tired and (albeit temporarily) poor, I want to sleep as much as possible and make meals that have inexpensive ingredients and take half an hour to make. Tops.
Before going to Spain, I had the good sense to stock up the freezer which, considering how many errands I was running in those last few weeks, is nothing short of miraculous. This included a £10 bag of frozen squid from my local fishmonger, Moxons. Although I tend to only buy fresh or smoked fish, the frozen squid has proven itself on many occasions to be a godsend. A bit short on a fish pie: defrost some squid. Need a quick last-minute pasta: defrost some squid. You get the idea. Keeping a bag in the freezer means that in those cash-poor few days before pay day, you can make a decent meal without having to fork our your precious pennies on protein.
This squid stir fry is from a Thai food book that I picked up many years ago from a church fete book stall for about 50p. I think it dates roughly from the early 2000s and I’m not sure how authentic it is, but there are a few gems in there, including some lemongrass pork on skewers that I have been meaning to try for a long time. There are a lot of curries in there, but the stir fry recipes are the ones I struggled to resist. This stir fry in particular is so simple and quick to make, and contains very few ingredients. If you used dried noodles, you’re looking at ten minutes; if you use fresh noodles you can probably do it in less than five. As well as the squid, the sauce is flavoured with a simple combination of garlic, ginger, soy, lime and sugar. It is one of the few stir fry recipes I use that contain no chilli (although we tend to douse it in Sriracha afterwards), which is sometimes good to have on hand when you have houseguests that can’t handle the heat.
Stir Fried Squid with Ginger
3 nests noodles (I used Sharwood’s Medium Egg Noodles)
7 ready-prepared baby squid
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 inch piece of root ginger, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp granulated sugar
4 spring onions, finely sliced
Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain and divide between the two bowls.
Rinse the squid and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut the bodies into rings and halve the larger tentacles.
Heat the oil in a wok and cook the garlic for 30 seconds until golden brown, being careful not to let it burn. Add the squid and stir fry over a high heat for a further 30 seconds.
Add the soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sugar and spring onions and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Serve over the noodles.