Some evenings I go for a post-work run and want to come back to something quick and good. One night I popped some mushrooms and cherry tomatoes into the oven and went out. By the time I got back, the tomatoes were on the verge of drying out and the mushrooms prettied much burnt in the toms’ charred juice. Do as I say, not as I do: only leave the vegetables in the oven for max 15 minutes! I suppose you can try this with any other non-leafy vegetable. Think eggplant, courgettes, peppers and the like.
The couscous was very easily done: some vegetable stock (I use an organic no-msg stock powder) and a quick buzz in the microwave, then top with chopped basil and the grilled vegetables and it’s good to go. If you feel like you can’t do vegetarian, try adding a chopped anchovy or top with a grilled chicken breast. Quick and cheerful for a weekday dinner.
This recipe of course has way too much couscous. Keep the rest for another meal.
handful mushrooms, I used oyster mushrooms in this recipe
as many cherry tomatoes as you like, I used yellow ones here
¾ cup vegetable stock
½ cup cous cous
handful basil leaves, finely chopped
1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
1 wedge lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a roasting tin with foil and set the mushrooms and tomatoes on. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 10 minutes or until the vegetables just start to brown.
Heat up the vegetable stock and pour over the couscous. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Set aside for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
When the vegetables are done roasting, pour it and any pan juices onto the couscous. Stir in together with the basil and add salt and pepper to taste. If you’re using chopped anchovies, add them here too.
In the Zhuang village, one of the local specialties was bamboo sticky rice. Glutinous rice was soaked in water and mixed with corn, mushroom and carrot. The mixture was then stuffed into a bamboo section then roasted over a charcoal fire. The fragrant rice would swell to fill up the whole container and form a delicate layer of rice paper coating the entire length of bamboo. It was delicious.
It’s probably one of the earliest convenience foods. Locals would take the prepared raw bamboo packets with them as they went into the forest to work. For lunch, they would build a fire and cook the bamboo packets. Et voila! Lunch on the go. The best part was that the packaging is biodegradable and left in the forest. Free hands to take timber back to the village.
For the tourists’ bamboo rice, grills were put behind the restaurant. Check out the nifty built-in handle carved out of the bamboo.
At the Dong village, we ducked into this little noodle shop for lunch. It was the only food shop in the vicinity and it had only one dish on the menu. The best part was watching our noodles made before our eyes outside the little shack. This was mingling with the locals at its best.
As we eagerly waited for our noodles, this group of boys happily slurped theirs down. They were eating with such gusto, it had to be good.
And it was! This version was slightly lighter than the one in Yangshuo. It had far more fresh vegetables (pumpkin shoots, very yummy) in it and there was the option of adding extra chilli to taste. Wonderful. It cost all of ¥3 per bowl.