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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Instant noodly, sticky, spicy, satisfaction

I’m celebrating my love of the food columns and supplements in The Guardian by trying to cook at least one recipe from each issue of Guardian Feast in 2021. Find out a bit more about that here.

Like Lara Lee, I’m a huge fan of ‘two-minute noodles’ – although I’m not a great lover of the flavour sachets that come with them (the eldest daughter declares that ‘sometimes that’s just the flavour you want’). Anyhow, I was sold on Lara’s noodle recipes in Guardian Feast Issue No.160 when I saw the distinctive tangle and curl of those little packet wonders.

Instant noodles: curly little packet wonders

After my slight wobble with the sublime coffee mousse with tahini chocolate sauce in the same issue, I’m determined to read the recipe for Lara’s spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles carefully and follow it. I just know this sticky, meaty, spicy dish is what we need for supper on a freezing, gusty Northumberland Sunday in Berwick-upon-Tweed. And I have every ingredient – except pork belly which is in the freezer. What I do have is a chicken. And lashings of goose fat left over from our Christmas goose. Chicken plus goose fat is practically pork belly, isn’t it?

I really resent paying a premium for jointed bits of chicken. It’s so much cheaper to buy a whole bird, butcher it yourself and make delicious stock from the carcass. Yes, it adds prep time but it’s worth it on so many levels – more flavour, less cost, less packaging, the satisfaction of a job done well.

‘I could just go on eating it till I burst’

I once butchered a pig. It was a daunting task but really informative. The key thing I learnt is to be guided by the bones, joints, muscles and sinews of the animal you’re butchering. A chicken is so easy – and the more you do it, the better you get. I’m sure there are loads of YouTube tutorials on hacking up a chicken so I won’t describe that. All I can say is, the more I do it, the better I get.

Lara’s recipe requires 250g skinless, boneless pork belly slices. I decide that both thighs and one breast will be roughly equivalent and use goose fat for all the fat requirements of the recipe – the chicken skin goes in the stockpot.

It is really easy to romp through Lara’s recipe and I get the dish on our plates within the half hour guide cooking time she gives. I don’t quite get the fat hot enough to get our eggs crispy. No matter. This is a brilliant midweek supper dish. Easy to make and richly, lip-smackingly satisfying to eat. With its glossy fat content, I can see that belly pork would be the perfect meat for it, but my chicken version’s not half bad.

The Husband declares that he could: ‘just go on eating it till I burst’. He’s a keeper.

Jackie's chicken version of Lara Lee's spicy pork and peanut instant noodles from Guardian Feast
My version of Lara Lee’s spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles from Guardian Feast Issue No.160

Original recipe:

Lara Lee spicy soy pork and peanut instant noodles

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