When it comes to food, there are few things I love more than Asian noodles. It doesn’t matter which country in Asia it’s from or whether there’s soup or not– if it’s a noodle dish I’ll eat it. (For pasta I’m a little pickier since I don’t generally eat white sauce, but I also adore pasta.)
The amount of noodle dishes in Asia can be pretty mind-blowing. Most of the time the choice of going for noodles with or without soup comes down to my mood or my tummy. When I’m especially hungry or feeling like I want some comfort food, that’s when I go for ramen or wonton noodle soup. There’s something about the warmth of them– and the fact that you’re most welcome to slurp them to you heart’s content– that makes them so satisfying. (In some parts of Asia, slurping your noodles is a sign that you take pleasure in eating it!)
Probably my least favourite type of noodles are the stir-fried ones that end up being too oily, like when yakisoba or misua is not properly cooked. (It doesn’t mean I don’t eat them though haha!) My favourite noodles however are those that don’t actually have soup, but they aren’t as dry as stir-fry either. Those that are slathered in a sauce with a special mix of ingredients to make them flavourful, like Korean bibimguksu, or Chinese Dan Dan Noodles. It’s the same thing for noodles you dip in a sauce, like tantanmen or zaru soba.
Most of the time I prefer noodles like this Sesame Soba– a saucy type of noodle that has a light and bright dressing. It has just enough sauce to coat each and every strand of noodle so as to make it juicy and slurp-able, and it’s really simple and straightforward. It doesn’t need any toppings or special flairs, but you can totally add a side-dish if you want.
Just for the heck of it, I decided to top my noodles with some sweet-spicy broiled salmon. Both components of this Spicy Honey Salmon with Sesame Soba dish are equally simple, and I just thought this combo would be perfect for Lent as well so I’m writing about it now.
This also served as a perfect recipe to try out these supermarket soba I came across at Rustan’s. I am a huge sucker for cha soba because I love the colour, and I love that it has that lovely light scent of green tea. This Hakubaku brand is organic as well, and quite frankly I’m quite impressed with the quality of this. So impressed that I bought more packs in different varieties!
To flavour the noodles, it’s a simple matter of mixing into the noodles some sesame oil, chilli, honey, and soy sauce, along with scallions, cilantro, plus sesame seeds. It’s kind of amazing how a bunch of simple ingredients can make such an impact! These noodles were sweet and tangy, just a bit spicy and a little garlicky. The sesame oil binds it together really nicely. You can eat this hot or cold, which is great!
In the same manner, the flavours used for the salmon are all pretty standard pantry stuff too. Chilli, paprika, garlic powder, plus salt and pepper of course. Then there’s honey to sweeten it up and lemon juice to add a lovely tartness.
This one is a little bit more labour-intensive than the noodles just because you need to keep brushing the salmon as it broils. It’ll be worth it though as the salmon will absorb the flavours of your spices better. The most important thing to watch out for is overcooking the salmon as it’ll get too dry if you do. The smaller your salmon is the faster it’ll cook so adjust your cooking time accordingly.
The common spices used between the salmon and the noodles make them complement each other rather nicely. I love how they have this really bright and almost tangy taste that keeps you reaching out for more. I know this dish has two of my favourite things in the world in noodles and fish, but the noodles in particular were just so hard to resist for me!
Serves 4 to 5
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 7 ounces (200 grams) soba noodles
- 1/2 cup scallions
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Nori sheets, cut into think strips
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Generous pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more for topping
- 900 grams salmon fillets
- Olive oil
- 1. Bring unsalted water to a boil and cook the soba according to package instructions. Make sure to keep it al dente.
- 2. Meanwhile, in a small microwave-safe bowl, combine canola, sesame oil, and chilli flakes; microwave for 3 minutes. Set aside to let cool a bit; be careful while handling as it'll get very hot.
- 3. In another small bowl, combine honey and soy sauce, then add in the oil mixture. Whisk all together until honey is completely dissolved. Set aside the dressing while waiting for the noodles to finish.
- 4. Once noodles are cooked, drain into a colander and rinse the soba under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.
- 5. Give the dressing a last whisk, then pour over the cooked noodles. Add green onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Toss everything together until all the noodles have been coated with the dressing and toppings. Noodles can be served chilled or at room temperature.
- 6. Preheat the broiler and move the top rack to about 4 or 5 inches below the heating element. Line a roasting pan with foil and lightly brush with olive oil (or cooking spray).
- 7. In a small bowl, mix together all the spices. In another small bowl, mix honey and lemon juice together. (If honey is too thick heat it for about 10 seconds in the microwave to make it runny.)
- 8. Place salmon on prepared baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Brush each fillet all over with half of the honey-lemon mixture. Then rub each fillet with an equal amount of the spice mix, making sure to rub the top and sides of the fish.
- 9. Broil salmon for 5 minutes, then brush with remaining half of the honey mixture and broil for about 2 more minutes until the spices look like they’ve melted on top of the salmon. Don’t overcook as the salmon might become dry. Remove from oven and get ready to serve.
- 10. Transfer noodles to individual serving bowls or plates, then top with one or two portions of the salmon fillet (portion depending on the size of slices). If desired, squeeze a bit of lemon on top of the fish. Serve immediately.
But daaaaamn, just look at those saucy noodles. Staring at this picture I suddenly don’t care so much about sides and just want a gigantic serving of noodles all to myself!