My favourite thing about travelling is the massive variety of food and drink that you can try. Whilst I haven’t been able to do this over the last year, I’ve challenged myself to cooking new recipes from all over the world every week. I wouldn’t say much of my cooking is 100% authentic as I’ve adapted recipes so that I can cook them in our tiny student kitchen. These recipes are all for two servings and take up to an hour from start to finish.
Quick and Easy Korean Beef with Beans
200g beef mince (this also works with pork or vegetarian mince), 3tbsp light soy sauce, 1 spring onion, 2 garlic cloves, a chunk of fresh ginger, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 apples, and 130g basmati rice.
The best part about this recipe is that it’ll take only as long as your rice takes to cook. First thing first is to start your rice cooking, following the packet instructions, depending on which rice you have. While the rice is cooking, chop the ends off the green beans and halve them, then set aside until needed.
To make the Korean mince, peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger, adding it to a large bowl. Next, finely slice the spring onion, adding the white part to the ginger and garlic, while saving the green tops for later. Grate the apples with the skin on into the same bowl, avoiding the hard core of the apple. To this, add the mince (if you’re using frozen mince, add everything directly into a frying pan and mix while it’s cooking), sesame oil, soy sauce and brown sugar, and mix until everything is combined.
Heat a large frying pan with a small amount of oil – whichever you usually use to cook with – and add the Korean mince and the green beans. This should take around 8-10 minutes to cook, stirring occasionally so nothing burns to the pan. Add the spring onion greens to the now cooked rice and season with a little salt and pepper.
Serve the Korean mince with the rice and if you’re feeling fancy a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top. The leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, depending on what mince you’ve used.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
1 small butternut squash, 180g arborio rice, 2 white onions, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of each rosemary, sage, and thyme (fresh is great, but dried works just as well), 1 dried bay leaf, 2 tbsp smoked paprika, 50g unsalted butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 vegetable stock cubes made up to 1L with boiling water, 125ml of white wine (optional) and 50g cheese.
Whilst this is quite a luxurious recipe, we all need a little treat every once in a while. This is also really easy to make vegan as well – just swap out the butter and cheese for whatever alternatives you enjoy! It takes a little longer to make but is nice for a weekend or if you have friends around.
First, preheat the oven to 200 °C, then peel and chop the squash into medium-sized cubes. Next, spread the squash on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with a half of the olive oil, sprinkle with the smoked paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 20-25 minutes, or until it starts to look golden and is cooked through.
Whilst the squash is cooking, add half the butter and the other half of the olive oil to a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Finely chop the garlic and onion and the fresh herbs, if using. Add these to the melted butter and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the bay leaf and the arborio rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
At this point, turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the white wine, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this process with about 150ml of the liquid stock, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. This is a little hands-on but the more you stir, the better the risotto is, so it’s all worth it in the end! Continue adding the stock until the rice is cooked – you may need more or less stock, depending on how hot your pan is.
Once all the stock is added, add the remaining butter and the cheese, stirring until they’ve melted into the rice. Remove the pan from the heat and you can either mix the roasted squash into the risotto or just pile it on top when serving – it’s entirely your choice. Other than that, serve the risotto immediately. The leftovers will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days.