Spice Up Your Life – with these quick spicy Thai-style noodles

I have no idea how authentic these are – my honest guess is ‘not at all’ – I made them to go with the spicy crab cakes I wrote up for Cooking the Books, but they’re just too good not to deserve a recipe post in their own right. There’s a sort of a dressed noodle salad vibe going on, I suppose, but served hot – though, come to think of it, they might be very good cold, too! As well as making a lovely side dish, these would make a really great quick lunch or supper dish in their own right.

Actually, I’m a little bit gutted about the timing of coming up with this recipe – I’ve spent the last two years working somewhere with no microwave to heat up lunches, and the succession of cold lunches and soup from a flask gets a bit wearisome after a while! If you were to replace the egg noodles in this recipe with the thin white rice noodles that you can cook just by adding boiling water, this would have made a perfectly fabulous hot lunch (think top-notch, gourmet pot-noodles)! Obviously, I’ve just finished working there.

The heart of this dish is the spicy dressing for the noodles, which should keep well for a little while in a jar in the fridge if you end up with more than you need.

For the dressing, combine the following, and mix well –

  • Spicy noodle ingedients2 tbsp chilli oil
  • 2 tbsp of a neutral oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil, but olive oil would be fine)
  • 1/2 tbsp of roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 heaped tsp of honey

How hot this dressing ends up will depend on the character of your chilli oil, the ratio of chilli oil to neutral oil (there’s nothing to stop you using 1:3 – or 3:1, for that matter, if you’re a hard case!) and your personal taste in chilli heat. These proportions work for me, but feel free to experiment. I would keep the combined amount of chilli and neutral oil at 4 tablespoons, though, or the balance of the rest of the flavours is likely to be off.

Cook your noodles according to the instructions (these fine egg needed to be boiled for 3 minutes – I allowed one ‘nest’ per person). You could use fine rice noodles instead, or even thin pasta, if that’s what you have to hand.

Now, prepare –

  • Prepared vegetables & dressingHalf a carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • A few peanuts, roughly chopped, if you have them (cashews or pine nuts might work, too, to give a little crunch)

When your noodles are cooked, drain them, add the dressing, mix through with the carrot, spring onions and coriander, and serve with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Enjoy!

Serve with side dishes of your choice

This is really really good, quick, fresh, tasty (and healthy!) food. The balance of hot, sweet and sour is perfect (well, for me anyway), and there’s a real depth of flavour and complexity, and a deep satisfying savouriness from the sesame oil and soy sauce.

This dish breaks down really well as ‘lunch-box’ fare, too – just take the dressing in a little pot, and the prepared vegetables separately, and cook the noodles just before eating.

Read more from the Country Skills blog >>

Creamy home-smoked salmon pasta

Time: 10 minutes – Patience: 10 minutes – Difficulty: Simple – Knackyness: Low

Yesterday, I had a first experiment at curing and smoking salmon at home.  Tonight, I made a creamy smoked salmon pasta with the cold smoked fillet I’d produced.

Smoked salmon pasta - some ingredientsIngredients –

  • One tail fillet of home-smoked salmon, around 100g
  • Two home-reared pullet’s eggs
  • One clove of home-smoked garlic, crushed
  • A small handful of grated parmesan or pecorino
  • A glug of double cream
  • Pasta of your choice, sufficient for two portions

Method –

  • In a dry frying pan, start to cook your whole smoked salmon fillet
  • In a large saucepan, bring some salted water to the boil
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water, along with a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil
  • Once the salmon fillet is cooked, break it up into flakes in the pan, then add the crushed garlic clove and continue to fry gently for a couple more minutes
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl or jug, beat the eggs with a fork, add the glug of double cream and 2/3rds of the grated parmesan, along with a generous pinch of cracked black pepper
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the saucepan.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the frying pan with the salmon and garlic, and almost immediately transfer all of these into the drained pasta
  • Mix swiftly, the heat from the pasta will cook the egg, and the texture should end up thick and glossy.  But don’t worry if it looks a bit like scrambled egg with salmon in it, it will still taste marvellous
  • Serve into two bowls, topped with the rest of the grated parmesan

Simple, tasty, and all the key ingredients home-produced. And done in the ten minutes it takes to cook the pasta. What could be better?

Verdict on the smoked salmon? Undoubted success. Cooked in this dish it is distinctively and recognisably smoked salmon, has a good firm texture and slightly salty flavour and lovely smokey aroma.  Result!

I have an apology to make, however – it was a long day at work, and I was hungry… so I didn’t stop to take photos of the cooked dish, I just ate it!