This is a quick dinner that I made some time ago, and recently re-discovered in my unpublished photos folder. Sometimes weeknight cooking can feel unimaginative, or uninspired, because you just want to get dinner on the table and sink gratefully ito your favourite chair. Even people who love to cook and spend time in the kitchen, like me, can get fed up of being in there now and again. Sometimes, after a long day at work, I just want to eat crisps for dinner and read a book until an indecently early bedtime calls the whole day to a close. Sometimes I do exactly that. Other times, I want to feel like I’ve fed myself something nourishing, that my body will thank me for, but I want it to be an easy process. This was one of those times.
I started out with mostly storcupboard and fridge items, and a brief stop at the shops had let me pick up a couple of mackerel fillets and a pack of asparagus tips. Back home, I assembled the noodle ingredients on the board:
A little bundle of fine egg noodles, a spring onion or two cut into rounds, a sliced bird eye chili, a big ole clove of garlic and some fresh ginger, smushed up, and a good sprinkling of sesame seeds. The asparagus tips, sliced down the middle so they’ll cook quicker and take some nice griddle markings while they’re about it. It took hardly any time at all to get this lot ready for action. By this point I was feeling happier about being in the kitchen, anyway, as I always do when something looks like going very, very right.
All I did with the mackerel was sprinkle a little salt over both sides, then start it off in a medium hot pan, skin side down. I’d seen a tip for cooking fish just before I made this: fry skin side down until almost completely cooked through, then flip over just for a minute or two to finish. I’ve often had trouble with the skin sticking to the pan or the fillets breaking apart, but this time it worked like a charm. By the time you flip it over, the skin is really crispy with lovely colour. I love how mackerel skin looks, all stripes like a shiny tiger.
The fish only took about ten minutes to cook, all in. About half way through, I threw the asparagus into the pan, and started a pot of water boiling. I turned the asparagus now and again for the next five minutes, and put the noodles on to boil. They only take three minutes, at which time I drained them and added a good splash of sesame oil, both to keep them from clumping up and for the flavour. I put a wok over a high heat and added a drop of groundnut oil, then the chili and garlic. Once those were fragrant and starting to brown, I added the spring onion and the cooked noodles, stirring around to mix he flavours, but not worrying about the noodles getting a little bit singed and crispy. A wee splash of soy sauce and the sesame seed thrown over the top finished them off. By now, the asparagus and fish were ready, and I brought it all together; noodles, asparagus, mackerel.
I added some pickled radish slices to the side of the plate – you remember the gingery pickled radishes? They were such a good addition to this meal, the sharp pickles and the oily fish got along like the proverbial.
Alright, this wasn’t as quick as opening a packet of crisps, but it was so much better. I ate it with those cute rabbit chopsticks. They really are a force for good.