Thursday, 26 March 2009

Soba Noodles with King Prawns, Pepper & Broccoli

I try and use soba noodles wherever possible in my far-east Asian dishes. Soba noodles, often also called buckwheat noodles, are a flavourful alternative to ordinary rice or egg noodles. There is some debate about whether soba/buckwheat is a grain or actually a plant.

Whether a grain or a plant, all I know is that this brownish noodle is rather tasty and it comes armed with plenty of nutritional goodness for your health. Those who consider it a grain say it is a grain without gluten which makes it excellent for those unable to tolerate gluten in their diet. Generally, it is a good source of complex carbohydrate, protein and fibre and has B vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s rather versatile and can be used in stir-fries, salads and soups.

I created this extremely yummy stir-fry a few days ago as a special treat for myself after an especially hard-working morning. You can use any combinations vegetables with either prawns or fish. Or you can make a vegetarian version using firm cubed tofu and your choice of vegetables. I’ve used a combination of luscious king prawns, broccoli and red-peppers.

You’ll need:

190g cooked prawns [for the veggie option use tofu which has been browned in a little oil first]

Red pepper – half a large one or one small one, sliced in fine strips

Broccoli – a small bowlful cut into small florets

Sesame oil – 3-4 tbsp

Sesame seeds – 2-3 tsp

Soy sauce – to taste

Garlic – 3 cloves chopped fine

Ginger – 1 cm piece chopped fine

Spring onions – 2 stalks, chopped

Chilli sauce or dry red chilli flakes – according to taste [I used some Chinese chilli sauce which includes some shrimp paste in it]

Soba/buckwheat noodles – 80-85 g

Prepare the soba noodles first according to packet instructions. Keep it a little al dente and rinse with cold water to stop it cooking further and going soggy. Set aside.

On medium-high heat, heat the sesame oil in a pan and add the spring onions. Stir and cook until softened.

Add the chopped ginger and garlic, stir and cook about 30 seconds or so and then quickly add in the pepper and broccoli. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes until just softened.

Add the soy sauce and then the prawns. Keep stirring and cooking until prawns start turning pink.Add in the sesame seeds and stir.

Now add in the prepared noodles. Mix well, cook another minute or so. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and tuck in.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Spinach & Courgette Soup: Liquid Velvet

This recipe is a contribution by my friend PT. This divine soup is like liquid velvet and slips down your throat like warm nectar. Light, healthy, very satisfying and a fantastic way to sneak some veg into children.


  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 large courgettes chopped small
  • 2 large bags fresh spinach (or 500gm frozen)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
  • Single cream or Greek or soya yoghurt
  • Sunflower oil (and or butter)
  • Water

1. Sauté onions in oil and butter, when translucent add courgettes and sauté for 7-10 mins till translucent.

2. Add Spinach and cover and wilt for 2 mins.

3. Add 2 pints of water and cook for 20mins.

4. Make sure everything is thoroughly soft and cooked before blending.

5. Liquidize. Add water to preferred consistency - not too thin not too thick.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste and fresh ground nutmeg.

7. Serve with a swirl of cream or yoghurt.

The Spinach can be substituted for nettles, watercress or sorrel.This quick simple soup was a major attempt to up my iron levels which plummeted when pregnant. It is great for getting G [young son] to up his veg intake if he had it as a starter or as a quick snack with a bread roll before swimming. In summer when the market has big bunches of watercress I do big batches and freeze some. Twice I have done it with sorrel from the farmers market; it is a luxury for me but an acquired tart lemony taste for others (no nutmeg with this one). So it can be made any time using seasonal greenery.

Contributed by PT

NB. As PT states above this soup can be made in large batches and frozen and served other times with little variations. You can bring in different textures and flavours by using a variety of toppings. I serve it with swirls of soya yoghurt which brings in some protein. You can also top it with crunchy croutons, or lightly sautéed chick peas [garbanzo beans], or swirls of tahini [sesame paste] for a nuttier taste, or stir-fried and crispened tofu pieces. By using this soup as a base and varying the toppings you can create many varied soups and broths. Friends and family will think you’ve been slaving away creating so many different dishes…they don’t need to know any different!

A big THANK YOU! to PT for contributing this lovely recipe.