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FoodThe Croft2022

The Empty Fridge Forum: Ria McMillan's Curried Broccoli Stalk Ramen

The Croft Magazine // Ria McMillan challenges herself to make the most of the tins at the back of her cupboard and her leftover bits of veg and create something resembling a hearty meal rather than a sad snack.

By Ria McMillan, Fourth Year French and English

The Croft Magazine // We’ve all been there: the student loan doesn’t come in till next week and stretching your last big Sainsbury’s shop is looking trickier by the day. You end up pulling together some concoction of pasta and ketchup or spaghetti hoops on toast which just leaves you feeling emptier than before. Ria McMillan challenges herself to make the most of the tins at the back of her cupboard and the leftover bits of veg and create something resembling a hearty meal rather than a sad snack.

Looking in my fridge for inspiration, I had a couple of mushrooms, a stalk of broccoli and a chilli (the remnants of a stir fry earlier in the week). This made me think of the spare nest of noodles sitting in my cupboard which is always a good base for a student meal. I did think about doing another stir fry, but I think it would have paled in comparison to the previous one. With the weather getting colder by the day, I found myself craving something hot and spicy. Enter spicy coconut curry noodles: the antidote to cold weather blues and with versatile enough ingredients that I could make it with the sparse offering in my cupboards.

Ⓒ Ria McMillan

I chopped up two cloves of garlic and a chilli (I would’ve put half an onion in as well but as previously mentioned, the cupboards were pretty bare). I also had a bit of ginger I grated into this mix. I fried all of that off in a large pot for a few minutes with a couple of teaspoons of curry powder and a little bit of curry paste and then added in the veg. The stalk of the broccoli doesn’t look quite as good as the florets but is still really good for you and reduces your food waste, so I cut that into matchsticks and chucked it in with three chopped mushrooms. This was just what I had in my fridge, but you could use any vegetable here really: carrots, peppers, cabbage and Bok choi would’ve all worked well in this.

@Ria McMillan

By this point the kitchen was smelling very tasty and my flatmate happened to emerge, insisting she also had nothing to eat and what I was cooking looked really good. Luckily, even with just the one nest of noodles, this recipe makes enough for two!

Once the vegetables had been in the pot for a few minutes, I added in a can of coconut milk and filled up the can with water and put that in too. At this point you can season it however you’d like but I used soy sauce, a bit of lime juice and some turmeric for colour. I had some leftover fried tofu from the aforementioned stir fry so I added that to the pot at this point for a bit of extra protein, but you could use any protein you like here or omit entirely.

To limit washing up, I thought I could use the same pot to soft boil my eggs as to cook the noodles and realised they needed about the same amount of time – 6 minutes – so I just put it all in a pot of boiling water together while the broth simmered. After that it’s just a matter of assembly so I divided the noodles into two bowls and poured over that spicy, creamy broth and topped it with the egg and some sesame seeds and a bit of chilli oil. Delicious.

Ⓒ Ria McMillan

The best thing was, it only took about half an hour from start to finish so it was only marginally more time consuming than instant ramen and kept us fuller and satisfied for much longer. I’m definitely going to be looking to the cupboards for inspiration the next time I think: “I have nothing to eat!"

Featured image: Ria McMillan

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