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Take that, airline food!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Airline food isn't great at the best of times, but the worst meal I've had on board was flying out of Hong Kong yesterday. Chicken and pasta was what I had -- the chicken had a soy sauce-based gravy and the pasta was orzo, the rice lookalike. When you fly coach, you never expect the meal to be fantastic but it should at least be edible. This was awful, even for someone who attended local boarding school for seven years and has eaten chicken with feathers still attached to the skin.

Having been away, my fridge didn't really have a lot, but there was some leftover cooked vermicelli, vegetable stock and tomato salsa. Just a little bit of each but with the baked patties in the freezer, they would make a nice pasta and meatballs for one.

There's no meat in the meatballs actually; they're made of cooked buckwheat (which is a fruit rather than a cereal), and if you toast them before cooking, they could pass off as meat (...if you really, really believe).

In the picture, the cooked patties are reheated in a sauce that's just a couple of tablespoons each of the stock and salsa, tossed through the vermicelli and topped with crushed potato chips.

I don't have an exact recipe -- I just threw a bunch of ingredients together -- and I'm really loath to provide one here but those of you who are skilled at cooking will be able to adapt it to your needs.

Buckwheat 'Meat'-balls
Makes about 12 patties

½ cup dried hulled buckwheat, toasted
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
3-4 tbsp minced onion
2 tbsp chopped spring onions
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped chillies (any colour) or to taste
1 medium egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain flour
Tasteless oil (like sunflower. grapeseed or corn oil)

Cook the buckwheat. There are several ways to do this: you could cook it like pasta (in a lot of salted water, then drained) or like rice (the absorption method: twice the amount of water to buckwheat and cooked over low heat) or even in a rice cooker.

Let the cooked buckwheat cool slightly (or store it in the fridge), the mix all the ingredients except the flour. If it is too wet, add a little flour. Shape into small balls and place on an oven tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Turn on oven to 180°C. Drizzle the patties with oil and bake for about 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.

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