Updated: Jul 7
Try this super flavourful and colourful dish that only takes 20 minutes to fry up!
Welcome, welcome back fellow foodies!
Regular readers know that I used to love, love, love travelling back before it was too dangerous to be aboveground, back when we could. I would try all the local cuisines, and then return home with easy-to-incorporate ideas, and share them with my friends and family. Now that those trips have had to stop, I focus on sharing all my favourite recipes, everything that I collected from those trips and travels to far off places (although maybe they're nearby for you!).
I know most of you can't easily leave the tunnels – not that I can either, ha ha! – but hopefully these recipes will help you to feel like your home is your holiday!
Last month, I focussed on comfort foods for managing underground living. These are great ways to keep the blues at bay, with meals full of vitamin C and foods that are great for healing if you’ve had to venture aboveground. We’ve all been there!
We all know it's a struggle to grow enough greens and oranges and zesty herbs in our home garden kits to supplement our rations, but I was so proud of everyone who tried last month’s recipes and shared the results. There was so much joy in the responses you all sent in!
Remember, it's not about perfection of the dish or the ingredients, but how much you enjoy the process. Cooking is healing, friends.
What to expect this month
This month I'm going to focus on the little things you can source through your special supplier. You know the one. The person you go to when you need a little more of something the government has run out of? The one who always has a little extra, if you ask just right? That friend. They’ll have this stuff, I'm sure of it. Don’t ask where they got it, though, you don’t really want to know.
You can be sure to thank them later with an extra roachflour muffin or algae jelly roll (some of our most popular November recipes).
This week, I’m going to talk you through a fatpacket sizzle. I picked up this nifty little recipe on a trip to the Thailand archipelago a few years back, after a bumpy night flight that left us all needing a real pick-me-up. It was an extraordinary trip (you can check out the blog we wrote about it here). Did you know their underwater tunnels are where all their greenhouses are? The ocean does the light filtering, and the views are spectacular! It’s amazing how something that seems so dead can still supply us with so much yummy goodness – like some of the ingredients we’ll be using for this meal!
Whenever I cook this up, I think of that trip and all the friends I made when I was there, and I feel so happy that they managed to get those tunnels finished before, well, you know. I hope it makes you happy, too!
What you need to get
This recipe is all about creating that feeling of safe sunlight and calm waters right at home.
You can use your government-issued rice as a base, no problem, but if you’re not already growing it, you'll want to get your hands on some purified turmeric root and some live cochineals if you can. These are both great for boosting the immune system, and give the rice a gorgeous red glow that makes you feel cosy and warm.
You'll want to ask your supplier to source you a packet of processed reclaimed adipose. They’ll know what you mean, and might be a little surprised, but go with it! Don't read the ingredients on the packet, though. Just trust me on this, it cooks up great. One packet should do the trick for a single person, but it’s basically one packet per person, so get more if you're cooking for more than just yourself.
From your home garden, you'll want some thyme, baby nettle leaves, peppermint leaf, a few washed and sliced button mushrooms, and 1-2 washed and chopped burdock roots. If you’re growing all of these, well done you! The air outside may be toxic, but your home pod is clearly hale and healthy! If you’re not at that stage yet, maybe do a swap with a neighbour – they can supply some of what you’re missing, and you can cook them up a fatpacket sizzle! Great excuse for getting out of your pod and meeting up. But remember, folks: be safe and wear a respirator until you’re both sure you’re blue plague negative!
Also, you’ll want a pinch of mixed standard table salt and potassium iodide.
What you need to do
Soak the contents of the packet in hot water for an hour, then throw that water away. Seriously, don't use it. Do a second hot water soak for 20 minutes, and that water you can hang onto for later.
At the same time as you’re soaking the packet, pop your cochineals into the freezer. It's the kindest way to dispatch them. Leave them there for about an hour, or until you're ready to cook. When you’re ready to cook, stick them into the blender for 2 minutes or until smooth.
Bleach your rice. Remember, you don't know where it originally came from. Besides, a bleach bath beforehand helps prime the rice, and brings out the bright reds and warm oranges of the turmeric and cochineal later. When you're ready to cook, strain the bleach and boil the rice in the leftover adipose water for 6-10 minutes (or until soft and the scent of bleach is gone). Add the turmeric and cochineal mash 2 minutes or so before it’s ready.
While the rice is cooking, fry up the contents of the reconstituted packets in some cooking oil, adding in the salts, herbs, and chopped roots as you go. If you're a spice lover, you could even add a pinch of dried jalapeños or pickled ginger, but remember to always check that they're within date – we wouldn't want you to come down with rad sickness!
You know the dish is ready when the contents of the packet look like the image below (it’s an old picture of something called ground beef that I found on the net). If it’s still pink then it needs more time, and maybe a little more heat. Cook it until it’s browned all the way through to protect yourself from anything that might have survived processing and drying. It shouldn’t take too long, and it’ll totally be worth running your hot plate for that long, I promise!
Serve over your rice with a sprinkle of poppy seeds on top. It’s great with a side of ginger soyfu, too (recipe here)!
The full recipe with measurements can be found here.
I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s one you can impress your friends with using just a few easy-to-get underground ingredients. Let me know how it goes in the comments, and remember to tag me in photos of your meals!
Until next week, safe eating!
Emma Burnett is a researcher and writer. She has been published in Elegant Literature, The Stygian Lepus, Roi Fainéant, The Sunlight Press, Fairfield Scribes, Five Minute Lit, Microfiction Monday, and Rejection Letters. You can find links to her fiction and academic work at emmaburnett.uk, and you can get in touch at @slashnburnett or @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artwork by Julien Hamilton, an artist currently based in the Netherlands. He works mainly with paintings but often seeks to expand and combine it with digital mediums in playful visual experimentations. The images shared here are part of Julien’s online presence: a combination of personal and impersonal images that he creates by distorting photos from his archive. In these images he tries to convey a digital and alien reality, distorted objects taken from the soft context they exist in.