This was a task for which I was thoroughly prepared: I’d bought all the ingredients (taking a list as long as my arm!); I’d watched the TV programme for the recipe I was going to do so I could visualise everything I should be dong and when; I had the book open at the right page; I placed ALL my equipment, and I mean all, out ready to use; the pan of hot water and warm frying pan were on and ready to go.
What more could I do? Well, little things did come up but I’ll tell you about those as we go!
So, the timer was at the ready to begin! And so was I!
I worked quickly and methodically through the instructions but soon confused myself. Actually, it wasn’t me that caused the confusion, it was Jamie! His TV show told me to do the pudding of frozen berry yoghurty ice-cream first, whereas that certainly wasn’t the first step in the book, but the last. I decided I’d like to get that done and get it in the freezer to chill, so I slotted that in earlier in the instructions. It also meant I didn’t have to do it when everything else was hot and ready to be served.
The second thing I soon realised was that having to read the instructions as I went along really slowed me down: moving the cookbook from surface to surface as I chopped, added to a bowl, popped into a pan, etc.!
As I chopped, sliced, stabbed, opened, threw, yelled and grated, I was desperately trying to think of things I could do to save even more time so I’d definitely make the 30 minutes deadline: peeling the little stickers off the lemons and limes, for example! One thing I hadn’t considered was the mess, and when I say mess, think every surface covered with a mixture of unopened and unused ingredients, bits of chopped off sweet potato, chilli seeds, the ends of the asparagus, empty packets of fish and pancetta, opened jars and bottles with their lids strewn around (probably on another surface or, indeed, the floor), splashes of berry and yoghurt mixture across the floor…you get the idea! It’s a good job I’ve got a kitchen with quite a lot of surface area as it really did cover the place. One reason is you can’t use the same table spoon twice, for example. It’s been dipped in honey and is then used for fennel seeds. Now normally, we’d wash it in between, but there simply isn’t the time – and I admit it, I didn’t count the amount of spoons I would need before beginning so found myself woefully short, using up valuable time to retrieve some from the dishwasher and hope they were clean.
The timer was still ticking as I turned the fish over to ensure the flesh was just cooked and as I began to plate them on top of the mash, it sounded its final bell.
Fortunately I’d also set the stopwatch, which was still going strong, so I continued. We sat down to eat 33 minutes after beginning the cooking process. The flavours themselves, as usual with any Jamie recipe, worked beautifully. With the addition of sesame oil, soy, ginger, lime and chilli, the meal was definitely Asian themed and although quite strong, complemented the fish rather than overpowered it, but one less wouldn’t have been missed. The OH actually went so far as to say that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked and I must admit, it was very tasty.
As I’d worked quite quickly, it was hard to actually relax into the meal, and when I looked across at the kitchen, even less so. Although the dinner was very tasty and didn’t take that long, I didn’t enjoy the experience of eating it. A real shame. It is, however, easy and if you didn’t push yourself, (say, went for 45 minutes) cleared up as you went along , knew the recipe and flavour combination so you didn’t have to read as you went and peeled the sticky fruit labels before beginning (!) it would be a far more pleasurable meal!
If you’d like a go, why not see if you can beat my time? I’d be interested in knowing what you’d do differently to try to save valuable minutes. Watch the recipe at jamieoliver.com before you begin and see what you think! Read about the experience of others at the Guardian’s TV & Radio blog – I only found this as I was writing this post!
(Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures – the camera had a little tantrum!)