This can be a very depressing time of year. The darkness and cold can be so enervating that after a long day at work the temptation is to stick a ready meal in the microwave when you get home as a prelude to collapsing on the sofa.
However, why do that when you can make this quick Thai stir-fry, which is full of zingy freshness? It takes only a couple of minutes to cook (plus a little extra time to chop things up) and can make the gloomiest winter evening into a festival for the taste buds.
Whether or not this recipe - which was my own invention - is remotely like anything served Thailand is a moot point. However, it does adhere to the Thai code for flavouring dishes in that it incorporates the four essential tastes - sour, sweet, salt and spice.
I use beef here but you could equally use chicken, lamb or even fish. Likewise, the only stipulation with the veg is that it can be stir-fried in a matter of minutes - I advise letting the supermarket do the work for you by buying a pre-chopped stir-fry selection. Kaffir lime leaves can be tricky to find but it is not a huge problem if you cannot locate any. The Thais use fish sauce to give that authentic salty note. However, light soy sauce makes an acceptable kosher substitute.
Serves four people
● 2 medium steaks, fat removed and sliced into thin strips
● 400g wok ready noodles
● Large bag stir fry vegetables
● One onion, peeled and roughly chopped
● Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
● 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
● One green chilli, finely chopped
● 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
● Juice of a lime
● 1 teasp sugar
● Light soy sauce to taste
● Handful chopped mint
● Handful roasted cashews, roughly chopped
● Vegetable oil
● Heat your wok until it is smoking. Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and sear the beef until browned but still rare inside.
● Remove from pan into a colander.
● Add another tbsp of oil and add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. (Depending in how hot the chilli is, you may need breathing apparatus at this point).
● Fry for 1 minute on high heat, then add the vegetables, a good splash of soy sauce, the lime juice, the sugar and the kaffir lime leaves and continue to stir-fry until the vegetables have softened.
● Add the pre-cooked noodles and stir to incorporate, then add the beef and stir for a further few seconds.
● Now add the chopped mint and the cashews.
● Check for seasoning and serve.