The stir fry 2: January is a month for trying out recipes from books received over Christmas. So far Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Bible has yielded some lovely potatoes with ginger and a super-tasty coriander chicken dish. Actually the latter is particularly satisfying to prepare because of the quantities of thick green goo involved. The other book to have entered our hands over the festive season is a little guide to stir fries, possibly intended to help us quit our high-maintenance relationship with DIY Thai, the carry-out shop at the end of our street.

Although some serious rummaging in the Chinese supermarket round the corner might possibly solve the problem, the stir fry book falls down a bit on demanding the impossible (or at least the unusual) ingredients-wise. But as a source of inspiration it has been dynamite. So much so that our wok is now blackened, scratched and generally a bit shot to shit.

The success story has been cooking pork in a combination, loosely inspired by a recipe in the book, of red wine vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, sugar, garlic, ginger, chilli. However this has highlighted one problem with my approach to cooking — or some might say to my personality, period. When following a recipe I am a total jobsworth: stickler for exact quantities, specific ingredients and accurate timing. Not good for the morale of anyone you share a kitchen with, and probably not good in general for a discipline which is, after all, hardly an exact science.

But when improvising I go to the other extreme. Sluicing a wok in sauce and vinegar is all very well when it turns out some exquisite pork slices: but when you’re asked to repeat your achievement and have no idea how much of anything went in… well, less impressive, certainly. Somewhere there’s a happy medium, I assume. If anyone has any pointers to where it might be found, you can now comment below to let me know!