Eating out, whilst being enjoyable and extremely convenient, is a costly affair. The immense variety of restaurant choice that now dominates our high-street, is a constant temptation to fulfil our dietary requirements whilst out and about. However, perhaps the heightened availability of eating-out options means that we can strive to replicate exciting dining in our own home, adding a certain sense of luxury to a home cooked meal to fulfil our need for top quality food.
To create a dish at home that competes with a restaurant quality meal, it is important to invest in a few key ingredients that are of a slightly higher quality to those of your usual student budget standards. Meat and fish invariably taste better if they are sourced from a butchers or fish mongers. Whilst this is likely to be pricier than the products found in the aisles of Lidl, the extra cost is worth the improved flavour and you can be assured that the product is far more locally and ethically sourced than the supermarket equivalents.
Furthermore, buying in smaller shops means that you are supporting local businesses, helping with the diminished states of our high-streets. If the extra cost is still a concern, reducing the amount of fish and meat in your weekly diet will balance the costs and also make it more of a luxury when you come to cook with these ingredients.
Fresh is always best in terms of the quality of fruit and vegetables. Whilst fresh food comes with a heftier price tag, it has a superior texture and taste to its tinned or frozen options. It is also much better for you. A study by the American Council of Exercise showed that the blanching process before freezing vegetables reduces their vitamin content. Furthermore, the extended cooking time for frozen vegetables further reduces their nutrients. So next time you do your food shop think twice before being drawn in by Farmfood’s tempting offer of five packs of veg for a fiver.
Investing in a range of herb plants is another way to add an element of luxury to your home cooked food. These remain fresh for much longer than pre-cut herbs, so work out better financially and coincidentally the herb plants can look quite aesthetically pleasing in a dull student kitchen. Fresh, as opposed to dry herbs, add considerably more flavour and nutritional value to a meal, and mimic the exciting flavours of a meal out.
Cooking at home allows you to be completely in control of everything that goes into the dish, making the culinary experience far more honest, giving you the opportunity to make a tasty dish that is potentially far healthier and definitely far cheaper than a meal out. So, this January why not try eating out, at home?
If you’re looking for a recipe to try out first, then try this Honeyed Sriracha Salmon and truly enjoy a fine-dining meal from the comfort of your own home.
1 salmon fillet
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
5 cm piece of cucumber
3 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh mint
Handful of fresh coriander
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Lay the salmon on a lined baking tray and season.
- Cover salmon with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the sunflower oil, garlic, sriracha, soy sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly until the mixture has reduced.
- Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil and seeds.
- Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the salmon and cook for another 8-10 minutes until cooked through.
- Whilst the salmon is cooking prepare the side salad. Finely chop the onion, tomato, cucumber, mint and coriander and combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This refreshing salad is the perfect accompaniment to the sweet and spicy salmon and this recipe is the ultimate eating out at home dish. Enjoy!
Image Credit: guillermomuro00 via Needpix