On the rare occasions when the man of the house has a day off during the week, he takes himself out for lunch. This is just one of the ways in which we are very different, because I’d never, ever do that. Or maybe it’s because I never have the chance to lunch alone (cue violins and the Martyr Mother choir, please). Anyway, I do encourage him to do this because a) normally he eats two meals a day hunched over a keyboard, and b) he often comes home with good ideas. This lovely dish is vaguely inspired by something he ate a few weeks ago at one of his favourite lunch spots.
Spicy fish and soba noodles
We went through a big soba noodle phase a few years ago, then stopped when we got sick of picking them up off the floor. The Small Girl is a bit more adept now, so they’ve come back on the menu. This is a great family-friendly dish as you can omit the spicy sauce, or tone it down, for young eaters. Everything sort of happens at once, but stay focused and you’ll find this a very easy after-work dinner.
270g soba noodles
2 Tbsp sesame oil (for the noodles)
3 Tbsp oil (for frying the fish)
500-600g white fish fillets – gurnard, snapper, blue cod
greens – two to three handfuls of green beans and/or bok choy
6 spring onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dried shrimps, optional
For the sauce:
100ml lemon juice (use a bit of lime juice if you can find good limes)
100ml fish sauce
2Tbsp brown sugar
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
a good grating of fresh ginger – about a tablespoon or so
Put all the sauce ingredients in a jar and shake until well blended. Set aside.
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water according to packet directions (they cook in about three minutes). Throw the greens in for the last minute of cooking, then drain everything and toss through the sesame oil.
Cut the fish into manageable pieces. Heat a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add the oil, then add the fish and fry until it flakes when pressed with the point of a knife. Remove from the heat.
Divide the noodles and greens between four bowls, then top with the fish. Pour over the dressing, then garnish with the finely chopped spring onions and dried shrimps. Serves four.
Are you a lady – or gentleman – who lunches? Where do you like to go?