Hands up if you would come home from school in the late 70s and early 80s ravenous, only to find it was boring old 'mince and tatties' for tea again. No wonder microwave pizzas were so alluring when they came on the scene around the same time!
Tonight I have eaten those same two main ingredients, not under the guise of a northern England delicacy, but as part of a Thai dish - Laab neua. Those familiar ingredients were magically transformed using Thai staples of fish sauce, lemongrass, lime, and fresh herbs of mint and coriander.
But the reason this recipe stood out, and what aroused my curiosity, was the requirement of a tablespoon of dry roasted rice! Sounds a little unappetizing I reckoned, but as the recipe was from a reliable and trusted source, I placed my faith in his hands. I was right to do so too. The rice had a distinct dry, salty taste - very similar to salted popcorn - with a real crunchy bite.
Fresh crisp lettuce leaves filled with a combination of sour, hot, salty, and zingy flavoured meat was a real delight. Added to the plate were simple seasoned potato wedges and a bowl of hot chilli sauce for dipping.
Cost per Individual Serving £0.97
250g Beef Mince £1.00
1/2 Iceberg Lettuce, leaves separated £0.25
2 Lemongrass Stalks, peeled and sliced £0.43
1 Green Birds Eye Chilli, thinly sliced £0.10
3 Shallots, peeled and sliced (home grown)
Splash of juice from 1/2 Lime £0.15
Splash of Fish Sauce (to taste) *
Handful of Mint and Coriander, chopped (home grown)
1/2 Tsp Dry Chillies, chopped *
1 Tbsp Roasted Rice (see below)
1 Tsp Vegetable Oil *
* denotes store cupboard items
1. Dry roast your rice in a wok/pan on medium heat for a few minutes until turning brown. Keep shaking pan
2. Put rice into mortar and pestle and grind until a mix of powder and broken smaller pieces
3. Heat oil and fry mince in wok/pan for a couple of minutes on medium-hot heat, stirring constantly, until
brown and cooked to personal preference. Drain fat and put mince into a bowl
4. Stir in all other prepared ingredients and mix well
5. Arrange lettuce on plates and spoon mince filling onto them. Roll up and eat
6. I served mine with potato wedges and chilli sauce