There’s a terrific Nigella Lawson recipe that uses about 30 cloves of garlic and guarantees that people will be standing about two miles downwind of you for a good few days. That inspired this recipe, which also uses a frightening amount of garlic but tastes absolutely fine. By cooking the garlic a little, you take away that honking smell and are left with a smooth, mellow flavour that lifts this otherwise simple dish. That said, we call this our date-wrecking beef for good reason. Serve with a shot of Listerine on the side, that’s all we will say.
Our first date wasn’t especially memorable – I turned up at Paul’s house with a bunch of flowers because he wasn’t very well, and we proceeded to do exactly what you’d expect two young gay men in the first flush of lust to do. Watched Family Guy, fell asleep. It was only when Paul broke wind so loudly in his sleep that he woke me up that I knew he was the one for me. Fun fact: on the second date, Paul came back to my house in Newcastle, and never went back to his house in Portsmouth. Who could blame him? I had name-brand crisps and a Wii; he had a packet of fish fingers and a rent deficit. There’s a glorious picture of us cuddled up on our games room wall – I’m looking into the camera with eyes full of love, he’s looking over my shoulder at my wallet sitting on the table.
Ah, young love. This is the moment in the book where I say we’re still hopelessly in love and the romance never died.
Serves 4 259 calories
2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 tablespoon fish sauce 6 cloves of garlic, crushed 500g (1lb 2oz) beef strips 1 × 200g (7oz) pack of mushrooms, sliced – try to choose an exotic mix 1 onion, thickly sliced A pinch of salt and black pepper 2 spring onions, for garnish
1 In one bowl, mix together the liquids. In another bowl, mix together the garlic with the salt and pepper to make a paste.
2 Spray a frying pan with a little oil. On a high heat, fry the beef and mushrooms until brown, then remove from the pan and set aside.
3 Add the onions to the same pan and cook for about 5–10 minutes, stirring constantly, until they start to turn golden. Add the garlic paste to the onions, making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
4 Return the beef and mushrooms to the pan and stir well to combine.
5 Add the sauce mixture and get everything coated and sticky.
6 Serve with rice and garnish with sliced onions.
A note from Paul
Mushrooms are one of those foods that many people say they don’t like, but they’ve grown up on button mushrooms – try an exotic mix from the supermarket instead, finely sliced – the taste is so different. If you’re still not sold, swap them for more beef, or add some sliced red peppers.