Brown Sugar Mackerel Soba.
I was recently interviewed for a small piece of media (more will be revealed soon) and I was asked to describe myself in the Kitchen and I can honestly say, the only word that sprung to my overcrowded mind was ‘resourceful’. I don’t think I have ever bought an ingredient and only used it once, or for the purpose of one dish. I will only ever buy an ingredient if I know it can be incorporated into at least two dishes and for that reason, I feel absolutely no shame in repeating ingredient pairings.
Resourcefulness is a quality that all home cooks need in their gastronomic adventures. We’re under no pressure to come up with something inspirational and brand new every day. More than that, we are the ones who have to stare at our fridges and pantries every single night and under no circumstance am I going to willingly watch my ingredients decay. I refuse to buy something and only use it once.
As somebody who happily documents what he cooks on a day to day basis, it’s natural for me to repeat ingredients because as I have said before – I cook from a very real Kitchen in very real circumstances so if I cooked with ginger in the last recipe, the truth is I will have a short knob of ginger knocking about in my fridge afterwards. And I’m only ever cooking for one or two people so chances are I’m not using huge amounts. I either come up with recipes that utilise all of my ingredients or I throw things away. And the latter is never an option.
Therefore this recipe is something that I invented within the same week of the cooking the last recipe (the Malaysian Chicken from the last blog post) where I had some of the ingredients still lying about. The liquids were more or less scraping the bottom of the bottles and were no use in any other recipe so I concocted a slick solo supper that utilised everything I needed to use up.
Drain a can of mackerel and place into a shallow bowl before squirting over some lime juice and allowing to sit on the side. Bring a pan of water to a boil before adding some soba noodles and some salt and allowing to boil according to packet instructions. I always feel stupid when I write that because I feel it’s not a ‘recipe’ but there you go. How else do you damn boil something?
In a small pan, fry a roughly chopped chili in some toasted sesame oil before grating in the ginger. Roughly chop a clove of garlic and add to the pain. Lower the heat before sprinkling in some brown sugar and scraping everything together. Pour in a shot glass of soy sauce and stir until everything combines. Drain the soba noodles once they have cooked and add to the pan of black sugary syrup. Now add the lime mackerel before using two spoons to lift and drop everything back into the pan to create spicy sticky noodles.
I think this has to be one of the quickest dinners I have ever cooked for myself. I mean it. The meal literally takes about 15 minutes and has since become my ‘mid-day lunch’ on a Saturday where I’m maybe going for drinks in the night and just want something rapid and quick (but I may leave out the garlic for… reasons you and I both understand but don’t need to mention).
But this meal is just a utilisation of store cupboard ingredients that perhaps you didn’t know what to do with once you had used them once. It’s amazing how using the exact same ingredients but in a totally different capacity have the capability of totally transforming a meal!