Most of the last week has been spent completely avoiding food, hence my silence. Some stomach bug or other got me last Tuesday and only really gave me my appetite back this afternoon. Although I ate over the weekend, it was always with the thought that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea just yet.
Once past the first few horrible days, the first thing I could bear to eat was steamed rice, or rather steamed Thai-flavoured rice. Thai food always seems restorative to me: it’s clean-tasting, free of animal fats (when vegetarian) and since it tends to be soft (there’s barely a crunch in most Thai dishes) it’s easy to eat. And whereas once upon a time I would have sought out the healing powers of packet chicken noodle soup, these days I turn to rice.The following recipe is adapted from one in Appetite and last week I made several bowls of this and sat eating them cross-legged on the sofa in my pyjamas. Heaven, if you’re well; not so heavenly if you’re not.
Thai-flavoured steamed rice (adapted from Appetite)
(makes two bowlfuls, which helps when you can’t face the kitchen more than once a day)
You will need:
a dessertspoon or so of sunflower oil
something oniony (I used two spring onions; a small onion or some Thai shallots would do too), peeled and chopped
1 cupful of basmati rice
1 or 2 sticks of lemongrass, bashed with a knife blade so that slightly crushed but not chopped into bits
4 or 5 fresh lime leaves
1 small Thai red chilli (I’m sure you could use a green one, or even whole dried ones too. I haven’t, but this isn’t a fussy recipe; in fact, it’s barely a recipe at all)
a handful of chopped coriander
1) Rinse the rice in a sieve in cold water.
2) Warm the oil in a pan (with a lid) over a gentle heat, then soften the onion in it, but don’t let it colour.
3) Tip the rinsed rice into the pan with the chilli, lemongrass and lime leaves. Add salt and pepper if you think you need it.
4) Cover the rice with water (about three cupfuls should do it), turn the heat down so that the water is just simmering then put the lid on the pan.
5) After about ten minutes, take the pan off the heat and let it stand for ten minutes. Leave the lid on (it’s going to steam now, so peeking will defeat the object).
6) After ten minutes or so, take off the lid, remove the flavourings if they’ll bother you, and fluff up the rice with a fork.