The Novice vs Jamie

I’m celebrating.  I’ve managed to cook one of Jamie Oliver’s 30- minute meals in one hundred minutes.  That’s my best result so far.  Somehow, I don’t think a letter of congratulations is going to arrive any time soon from Jamie Oliver Central.

Do you have Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals cookbook?  It’s sold millions of copies so I’m sure you do.

I used to let it upset me that I couldn’t rise to the occasion and deliver to the table these wonderful meals in the required time.  But now I take solace in the fact that he’s a professional chef with loads of energy and years of experience however I just wish he would be a little more realistic when setting the bar for the bumbling and stumbling novice home cook.

Browning the Chicken

A few nights ago I cooked Green Curry, Crispy Chicken Kimchee Slaw and Rice Noodles.  The ingredients list is quite extensive and so there is a fair bit of preparation to be done – that’s where the first 30 minutes went!  In Jamie’s defense, I didn’t follow his steps to putting this meal on the table in 30 minutes.  I just couldn’t.  It was so confusing because you have to be a highly-skilled multi-tasker and have many things on the go at the one time and with the phone ringing and Archie texting me about not coming home for dinner after all and Alfie needing a bath and the washing to be brought in and the dogs wanting dinner and Arabella crying about her inability to memorise her monologue for drama, I just couldn’t add to the mix five pots on the stove at once.

So I poured myself a wine.

I would love to see what I could achieve with no distractions or interruptions but that is not my reality.

So here’s how I blew out 30 minutes into one hundred:

First of all Jamie tells you to get all your ingredients and equipment ready.  This isn’t included in the 30 minutes but will take nearly 30 minutes to do.

Crispy Skinned Chicken

Green Curry, Crispy Chicken, Kimchee Slaw and Rice Noodles

Serves:  4


  • 8 chicken thigh cutlets
  • 2 tbspns sesame seeds
  • 2 lge tbspns runny honey

Kimchee Slaw

  • a small bunch of radishes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage
  • a small bunch of coriander
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 limes
  • sesame oil

Curry Sauce

  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • a few kaffir limes leaves
  • bunch of coriander
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • a small bunch of spring onions
  • sesame oil
  • 300ml organic chicken stock
  • 300g fine green beans
  • 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • lime juice
  • soy sauce


  • 250g rice noodles
  • 1 lime


  • olive oil
  • salt and black pepper


  • prawn crackers
  • chilli sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 a cos or romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 a bag of beansprouts
  • a few springs of fresh coriander

Where are those sesame seeds?

For the Chicken:  In a large frying pan over high heat, fry chicken skin side down.  Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper and leave to cook, turning every minute or so for 18 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.  Turn the chicken skin side up and carefully drain away the fat and reduce the heat.  Add 2 tbspns of curry paste from the food processor, toss to coat and glaze the chicken, then turn the chicken over and carry on cooking to make it sticky and delicious.  Check the chicken is cooked through then add 2 tbspns of honey and toss, flipping the chicken skin side down again.

Add 2 tbspns sesame seeds to a small frying pan and leave to toast until golden, shaking the pan occasionally, then put in a small bowl and take the pan off the heat.

For the Curry Paste:  In a food processor, peel the ginger and put in the food processor with the chillies, lime leaves (I remove the centre tough stem part of the leaf) and most of the coriander.  Crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic.  Halve the lemongrass and discard the outer leaves.  Trim the spring onions and add both to the processor.  Blitz to a paste adding a good drizzle of sesame oil and a good few lugs of olive oil as you go.  Pour into a small saucepan that is on medium heat reserving 2 tbspns for the chicken.  Add the stock.  Trim the green beans and add.  Turn up the heat, add coconut milk then add and stir in .  Bring to the boil, then turn down and leave to tick away.  Taste and correct the seasoning with lime juice and soy sauce, cook for another minute or so if you want a thicker sauce then take straight to the table.

For the Slaw:  Wash the radishes well.  Peel and halve the red onion   Shred the radishes, red onion and Chinese cabbage in the food processor.  Tip into a serving bowl.  Add the bunch of coriander and the chillies to the processor and whiz.  Peel and crush in the ginger, then tip into the bowl.  Squeeze in the juice from both limes, and add a pinch of salt and a splash of sesame oil.  Really scrunch together with your hands.  Taste to check the balance then put a large saucepan on a medium heat.

For the Noodles:  Put the noodles in a small frying pan with a pinch of salt and cover with boiling water.  Leave for a few minutes and as soon as the noodles are soft enough to eat, quickly drain, then rinse under cold water and return to the frying pan.  Drizzle over some sesame oil and a good squeeze of lime juice.  Add a pinch of salt and toss.

For the Garnishes:  Pile some prawn crackers on a serving board with a good pool of chilli sauce.  Cut the lime into wedges, put some on the side and squeeze one of them over.  Click off the lettuce leaves, wash and spin dry.  Put into a bowl and add the bean spouts and coriander.  Take to the table.

To Serve:  Divide the noodles between 4 bowls.  Put the chicken on a platter and let everyone lay up noodles, chicken, beansprouts, kimchee slaw and sauce.  Finish with a pinch of toasted sesame seeds.

All plated up minus the garnishes and sesame seeds

And that’s all there is to it.  In my haste to race the clock I forgot all about the sesame seeds.  I would love for you to try making this dish and get back to me with how long it took you.  For the one hundred minutes it took me it was definitely worth it because this is a delicious dish full of amazing flavours.

Green Curry, Crispy Chicken, Kimchee Slaw and Rice Noodles

Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef has interviewed me for her Food-Writer-Friday series.  For everything you ever wanted to know about me and my blog, just click here!  

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  1. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Perhaps it is 30min to eat, not 30min to make…?

  2. Hi Charlie, I’m new to your blog but just read your interview at The Orgasmic Chef and wanted to come say hello! Your noodle dish looks scrumptious, ready in 30 minutes or not! This looks like a dish worth trying!

  3. I’m impressed you managed this in 100 minutes – some of my Jamie Oliver 30 minute meals take that long and they are the simpler ones! I think his omission of the preparation time is a bit mean, because getting the ingredients out (and sometimes even chopping those ingredients!) is quite a crucial step.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s right. I had to wash and prepare a lot of ingredients before I even started the stop-watch. I think all of that plus cleanup time should be included (but then we’d all be so depressed we wouldn’t buy the book!) xx

  4. Yes, sometimes I think the 30 minutes is really just for reading through and compiling all of the ingredients. Oh Jamie Jamie Jamie…

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s right. It took me 30 minutes to read through the recipe, about another 30 to write out the shopping list, another 30 to do the shopping, another 30 to get out everything that was needed etc, etc. And the mess! I think this week I’ll be cooking one-pot wonders! xx

  5. Juliet Batten says:

    Ah, the realities of life. 30 minutes sounds totally unrealistic to me, but I guess it sells books.

  6. I’ve always resisted buying that book – and I’m a big JO fan – because watching that particular tv series always made me feel a bit carsick. It always went at breakneck speed! I think you did brilliantly to manage all this in 100 minutes!

  7. A_Boleyn says:

    As a previous poster said, I think the 30 minutes is an indicator of long it takes to read and try to figure out the recipe. Ridiculous. 🙂

  8. I have that book 🙂 And i agree! That it is quite difficult to do what Jamie does in 30 mins…and have you heard that he’s coming out with a new book 15 minute meals? LOL I’d be happy to just do it in 60 minutes 😛
    I have his Food Revolution book and find the recipes in there are the simplest and anyone can prob make them in the given times…but the recipes in the 30 minute meal book can be a little unrealistic because Jamie obviously has 2 or 3 sets of pots and pans and the bowl for the food processor 😀

    But either way I still love Jamie and all his recipes ~ Good work Charlie! xox

  9. Emily and I used to watch him doing his 30min meals on
    TV. The only one I’ve tried & loved was his Red curry Prawns. I think you did well to dothat dish in 100 mins! Ingrid

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Ingrid. I watched the show on TV too and thought it was like watching something on fast-forward. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly inspired by the guy and have so many of his cookbooks. I just think his expectations of the home cook are a tad unrealistic and a recipe with over 30 ingredients that all require washing and peeling and chopping and dicing is not going to be cooked in 30 minutes! xx

  10. Eva Taylor says:

    Oh my, firstly I wouldn’t consider you a bumbling home cook, Charlie. This is indeed a complex recipe with a multitude of ingredients; the list is daunting. I’ve heard you say that before about Jamie’s cookbook; it has deterred me from buying it! Now I’m heading over to read the interview, congratulations.
    PS your images don’t resize on my iPhone. I think it’s a setting in WordPress, but I’m not sure what you use.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Oh, I’m using wordpress so I’m not sure what wrong with the images. I size them all to medium I think. I’ll get my husband to look into it – that sounds like a job for him! xx

  11. Hehe! Well done on 100mins… I know plenty of people who haven’t cracked the 2hour mark yet. Jamie has somehow managed to make using his cookbook a competitive sport!

  12. LOL I’ve watched the 30 minute shows and everything is already washed or in a packet. I don’t have any children at home so I can get it down to 65 minutes if I set a target. 🙂

  13. Good God, i am reaching for the wine as we speak!! tasty though! c

  14. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    I would venture to guess that preparing this meal would take me 10 times 100 minutes. Clearly you love cooking way more than me. Your family is so lucky to have you preparing all those delicious meals.

  15. Ooooh.. this one is well worth the extra minutes, me thinks!! Yes.. Jamie.. I often fantasize about having his life.. living in a house that has a wee cottage/kitchen out back. I would wander through the garden in my wellies, plucking tender greens and root veggies.. saunter into my kitchen making lovely dishes.. THEN my family arrives and I present.. *sigh*… (oh, and I’d have a lovely wool sweater on in the fall as well!) xoxo

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes Barb, he does seem to live the perfect life. I love his home in the country with the veggie garden too – that’s probably what I covet the most – so much more than the wool sweater! xx

  16. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    This looks well worth the extra time–and a good excuse for a glass of wine! I seriously doubt, Charlie, that you are a fumbler or a bumbler–not after having read your blog and drooled over your recipes for a very long time now. I think you are probably a wise cook who just knows how to pace herself!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Victoria and yes, I was happy to pace myself and not get into a tizz about failing to bring this to the table in under 30 minutes xx

  17. What a beautiful meal! I don’t need Jamie, I have you! I am amazed that with your very busy life you prepare such lovely dishes! And I think it’s safe to say that with most professional chefs, they don’t start the clock when they first begin preparing their ingredients! I think you did great. 🙂 I’d love the chicken and must try that slaw! Debra

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Debra, the slaw was delicious but in the recipe it says to put it in a saucepan on medium heat and then he doesn’t mention it again. I don’t usually cook slaw so I wasn’t sure what to do but just let it cook for a few minutes only so that the ingredients remained crunchy xx

  18. love2dine says:

    Wow. Definitely want this

  19. Sawsan Abu Farha says:

    Reading the recipe alone requires a good 10 minutes. I don’t have the book and now I don’t think I will get it !
    I hate it when people set the bar so high and claim it is for everyone to cross!
    I do have to say though that you did a wonderful job and the meal looks mouthwatering good

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Sawsan. Sorry to have put you off the book. It’s a fabulous book if you forget that it’s called ’30 Minute Meals’. Like you say, it’s just setting the bar too high. xx

  20. That is me Sawsan from chef in disguise by the way

  21. This looks like a delicious meal, even if it did not take exactly 30 minutes, only a little more 😉
    I think all chefs decrease the time it takes because when they make a meal, they have assistants to set up everythiing for them 😉

    Choc Chip Uru

  22. Jennifer Cullen says:

    I can’t even try this! It would take me an hour just to figure out what ingredients I have to buy. And after the 100 minutes, how long did it take to clean up? Though I’m sure it tasted fabulois!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Jennifer, yes, it was quite a business cleaning up. I had mess everywhere. This is definitely not a one-pot dish! xx

  23. Glamorous Glutton says:

    I love Jamie’s 30 minute meals but I don’t think they’re always straightforward for the everyday cook. However, this chicken looks delicious and is worth the 100 minutes. GG

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes GG, it is worth the 100 minutes. The dish could be simplified by buying good quality green curry paste – that should shave off some minutes! xx

  24. ChgoJohn says:

    30 minutes. Ha! I was reading through the ingredients and could hear a tick-tock in my head. The only way I could come close to having these dishes prepared in 30 minutes is if I had double the support Staff Jaime had off-camera. Despite all that, however, it does sound like a wonderfully flavorful dish. But 30 minutes?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi John, yes, it’s a great dish but there are so many things going on that for mere mortals the 30 minutes is just too unrealistic. And the mess! This dish is no one-pot wonder. I had dishes piled up everywhere. But, it was delicious! xx

  25. yummychunklet says:

    I agree. No matter how fast recipes are, the assembly and measuring time is never under five minutes. Oh, well. This dish looks great!

  26. This looks delish! I do enjoy Jamie’s recipes, but like you 30 minutes is never realistic. Doubt it ever will be in my lifetime. 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I know. But his recipes are great so I’ll keep cooking from the book but I might just turn off the stop-watch! xx

  27. Whenever I make Rachel Rays 30 minute meals…..they take me a heck of a lot longer, LOL! This recipe looks delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

  28. gardencorrespondent says:

    I love that book but I have never ever managed to make one of those meals in 30 minutes. Moreover, I don’t know anyone who has. He ought to take that 30 minute thing right off the book. Your meal looks gorgeous.

  29. cityhippyfarmgirl says:

    I don’t have the book, but I so want the challenge now! 🙂
    oh who am I kidding, 3hours these days and I’d be happy completing dinner.
    Many distractions!

  30. Even if it took you longer it looks delicious, we all know that to make those dishes in 30 minutes you need somebody to prepare the whole kitchen, utensils and ingredients for you!!!

  31. kitchenriffs says:

    I’m going to have to take a look at that cookbook – I’ve seen so many people say they can’t reproduce one of his meals in 30 minutes. Recipe writers can be so unrealistic about times. How often have you seen, “saute onions until brown – about 5 minutes”?? Onions are barely translucent at the 5 minute mark, no where near brown! Anyway nice post – thank you.

  32. Reem | Simply Reem says:

    This looks Delicious!!
    You know those timed recipes in any cook book can never be made without a sous/help..LOL
    this really looks good… You have made me very hungry now..
    I am heading to Maureens site to read ur interview!!

  33. Too funny! It would take me 100 minutes, too, plus the 3 hours of shopping time to find all the ingredients! It looks delish, nonetheless!!!

  34. It looks delicious. but definitely not like only 30 minutes worth of work!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’m glad you agree Betsy. I think we would all need to be on speed to bring this in on schedule xx

  35. It would take me quite a portion of those minutes to read through the recipe!

  36. This post made me smile SO big! Thank u 🙂

  37. I love Jamie’s cookbooks but don’t have this one, though I don;t know anyone who has successfully made a dish from it in 30 minutes. Your line about pouring yourself a wine made me smile! 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Em. Yes, I’m yet to meet someone who can bring in one of these recipes in less than 30 minutes xx

  38. Vanessa Carnegie says:

    That does look good. I haven’t tried his recipes but I am notorious for not being able to stick to the preparation time limit. Or to the recipe, for that matter!
    I have discovered that my best (only??) dinner-in-under-ten-minutes is a Donna Hay Thai beef salad… as long as you don’t mind your kitchen looking like a tornado has hit it, you can prep the salad and dressing in the time it takes to cook medium-rare steak. But there will be dressing and vegetable peelings literally all over your kitchen!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s the thing – in order to bring in a recipe in the time they state, you have to ignore washing up and putting away as you go so when the meal is ready your kitchen looks like there’s been a explosion. I much prefer to take my time and keep the kitchen in relatively good shape xx

  39. I have been steadily working my way through Jamie’s 30 minute meals cookbook on my blog and timing it. It has been a struggle to conquer the 30-minute time limit but I have persevered and so far have managed it on one meal. It was the Moroccan lamb chops one and that was one of his most delicious meals. But and this is a big but, I never make the desserts. I prepare everything in advance, like turning on the oven and getting out all the ingredients, and then I go for it. But mostly it takes me 45 minutes without the desserts and that’s motoring. I have taken a break from them in the last couple of weeks but have one to do tonight – the cauliflower macaroni. I haven’t tried your one yet and I don’t have the same distractions, just a husband and a 21-year-old son. But I do have to say, the man knows his flavours and every meal I have cooked of his has been superb.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Suzanne for letting me know I’m not alone and that there are many of us in the 30-minute fail club. But, like you say, the recipes are all delicious and well worth making – you just need to allow a lot more time than 30 minutes xx

  40. Oh wow! You did a fabulous job in 100 minutes! It looks so delicious and totally worth the effort! 🙂

  41. Great job Charlie – I find time estimates in books and sites to be so inaccurate… but then I am quite a slow cook… I like to take my time I have to say. 30 minutes… well, I’d be hard pushed to get anything done in that time to be honest.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Charles, yes, it’s not a good idea to stick to the estimates given – just takes the joy out of the cooking experience and turns it into a panic situation. I’ll ignore Jamie’s 30 minute menace next time I cook from his book xx

  42. I think you did a great job, Charlie. Unfortunately, life is filled with interruptions and things happen 🙂

  43. Charlie, this one put one humungous smile on my face. I am so glad that I am not the only one who manages to make a 30 minute meal into a half a day affair. But I do think that 100 minutes was so worth it. Looks delicious!


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