10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

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I love all the traditional feasting around Christmas and the warm, inviting smells that come from the kitchen. Sometimes however, I think it is rather refreshing to have a completely different, spicy type of dish to feed the family over the Christmas week.

Squid is very economical, especially if you are feeding large numbers and takes minutes to cook. So I imagine you have been feasting royally over Christmas and Boxing Day and you crave something a little lighter and perhaps a chilli kick. You want minimum fuss to prepare a work of wonder. Step forward my ‘Asian Squid with Noodles’ to feed the family. It really is ridiculously easy and quick and you will be rewarded by many happy faces. By all means tone down the chilli if you are feeding to little ones (I tend to do a separate one for my youngest).

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I find the best place to buy squid is fresh from the fishmonger or from the fresh fish counter at your local supermarket. The fishmonger can gut the squid for you so that all you need to do is to cut it into rings. Gutting the squid yourself though can be rather good fun, but perhaps not if you are squeamish. I will do a vimeo of me doing it next time I make this and will then paste it up here for you to see. Watch this space. It’s actually very easy and my daughters actually enjoy helping me with this part.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

serves 4

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 inch of ginger, finely grated

1 red pepper, chopped

2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 handful of fresh sugar snaps

400g squid, cut into rings

1 tbsp five spice powder

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 handful of fresh coriander

250g medium egg noodles

1 lime, quartered

1. In a bowl add the five spice powder to the squid rings and put to one side.

2. Place the oil into a wok or shallow pan and add the onion, garlic, ginger. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the red pepper, green chillies, sugar snaps. Cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the five spiced squid.

3. Move around the pan so that ingredients do not burn. Add the soy sauce and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Boil the egg noodles according to the packet and then drain and serve into bowls.

5. Just before serving add the fresh coriander to the squid.

6. Spoon the Asian squid onto the noodles, place the lime on top and serve immediately.


Black Sesame Paste Soba Noodles with Salmon and Spring Onions

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There are some plates of food that when presented in front of you you are a little bit sceptical that the dish will actually taste good. This dish, being predominately grey and black with only a splattering of green and white from the spring onions and the delicate pink from the salmon, is a case in point. You are going to have to trust me on this one when I say that this meal is seriously delicious. It also ridiculously quick (I know I know I say that with most of the dishes I put up on my blog) – it takes the amount of time that you cook your salmon in the oven – 15 minutes.

 

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Black sesame seeds may require a bit of effort to hunt down – I found mine at my local Asian grocers, but other than that you should be able to get hold of the rest of the ingredients pretty easily. If you don’t have tamari, just use soy sauce – they are very similar.

 

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I ate mine with a hot cup of fresh lemon verbena tea, which I have become rather addicted to since I was sweetly given a bag full of the stuff last weekend. Have you tried it before? Does anyone grow it in their gardens? Is it easy to maintain? I’d love to know as lemon verbena has a wonderful aroma and taste.

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I hope you get to try this dish very soon. I adore buckwheat soba noodles – I tend to buy the Clearspring variety – they look like this. They’re wheat free noodles, low in fat and a great source of protein and fibre. Go on give this dish a go and leave me a comment below.

 

Black Sesame Paste Soba Noodles with Salmon and Spring Onions

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s ‘Super Natural Everyday’ – Black Sesame Otsu

Serves 4

black sesame seed paste

1 tsp sunflower seeds

1 tsp pine nuts

60g black sesame seeds

1 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 1/2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

2 tbsp brown rice vinegar

pinch of cayenne pepper

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350g buckwheat soba noodles

4 salmon fillets – skin removed (optional)

3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

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1. Preheat your oven (I use a fan oven – if you are not increase the temperature by 10 degrees) to 180 degrees. Equally you can steam the salmon if you prefer. Using a cooking brush gently wipe each salmon fillet with sesame oil. Place in a non stick dish and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a frying pan dry roast, on a low heat, the pine nuts and sunflower seeds for a couple of minutes so they begin to bronze. You will need to keep moving the pan to prevent burning. As the pine nuts begin to bronze add the black sesame seeds and move them around the pan for a minute. Transfer to a spice grinder (or pestle and mortar).

3. After whizzing the ingredients for 10-15 seconds so that they are properly blended, transfer the paste into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients to make the black sesame paste. Place to one side.

4. Place the soba noodles in a pan of boiling water and cook according to instructions – should be around 5 minutes on a low heat. Before draining save 100ml of the noodle water and leave in a jug. Drain the soba noodles and run under cold water to prevent further cooking. Before adding the soba noodles to the black sesame paste, remove 1/4 of the paste and place in a separate cup. Add the soba noodles to the large mixing bowl with the remaining black sesame paste, the 100ml of noodle water, extra virgin olive oil and almost all of the spring onions and gently stir into the paste.

5. Serve a generous portion of noodles to each bowl or plate and place the salmon fillet on top along with a dollop of remaining black sesame paste which you have reserved and a scattering of spring onions.

It can be eaten at warm, room temperature or cold. You can replace the salmon with trout or even with tofu gently fried. It would in fact make an original and tasty lunch box alternative.


Bengali Mustard Fish Curry

This post has been a loooooong time coming. Last week was totally full on with both my daughters now in school. There was a catch however, that being that Little Z was to be weaned on gradually with half days over the course of the week and a half, which mean’t that much of my existence was spent ferrying children in a car back and forth to school – six times per day for me to be precise, therefore allowing very little time to actually get on with anything productive.

At the weekend I threw myself into organsing an a friend’s baby shower so was baking and making in preparation for the event. The spread included: a Victoria sponge cake, flapjacks, egg mayo, smoked salmon with horseradish, cream cheese and cucumber finger sandwiches, rainbow coloured fruit sticks (got to keep it healthy!), a carrot cake and a few other sugary treats accompanied by big cups of tea and coffee, oh and not forgetting peach bellinis upon arrival.

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It’s now Tuesday and calm has reigned once more in my life as Little Z stays at school for her first full day. This now gives me the necessary breathing space to get this blog post out to you all.

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Mustard fish curry – Maach (fish) Jhol (gravy/curry), is probably THE most popular fish dish in Bengal. The Bengali diet includes a lot of fish and mustard oil/seeds/paste is as ubiquitous in Bengali cuisine as pepper is in the west. Traditionally the mustard paste for the curry is made by grinding brown mustard seeds on a ‘sheel nora’ or grinding stone that can be found in traditional Bengali kitchens. I learn’t this recipe however from my husband, Mr B, and my mother in-law who have converted to the quicker version of mixing some smooth Dijon mustard with some wholegrain mustard, which works superbly. Cheating? Well not really, just speeding up the process, which is always a bonus in our otherwise hectic lives.

This time I used sea bream, mainly because it is what I had in my freezer, but mackerel, tilapia, salmon or trout work equally well. Served with a bowl of rice it is perfect for a speedy week(end) night supper.

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Some recipes require that you rub turmeric and salt into the fish first and then deep frying them for a 2/3 minutes and then in a separate pan adding the mustard oil, nigella seeds and mustard paste followed by the fried fish. I have always tended to omit the first part, keeping the dish healthier, but by all means try both versions and see which you prefer. Similarly I often cook the dish with the fish whole, but head removed. However, you can also chop the fish into smaller pieces but do not fillet it as it will not work so well.

Bengali Mustard Fish Curry 

Serves 3 (if serving for 4 add one more fish and an extra chilli or two!)

3 sea bream/mackerel/tilapia/salmon/trout, head removed but kept whole

3 tbsp mustard oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

3 green chillies, halved (more if you prefer it hot hot)

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp wholegrain mustard

pinch of salt

8 tbsp water

1. In a pan/wok/kadai heat up the mustard oil. When it is hot carefully add the nigella seeds, chilli powder and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds before adding both mustards. Stir well.

2. Add the chilli and then place in the fish using a spoon to cover the fish in the mustard juices. Add a pinch of salt and some water and place a lid on the pan so that the fish can steam. Keep the heat low so as not the burn the bottom of the pan. If it is drying out add a little more water or oil if need be. Spoon the juices over the fish from time to time.

3. The fish will be cooked within 10 minutes. Leave to rest. Scatter with chopped coriander before serving. To reheat, simply add a sprinkling of water and warm the pan.

Serve with rice.

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