I should’ve posted this when the weather was bonkers-hot and the idea of cooking *anything* was repellent but I think we all know I am not that organised. It’s still a perfect noodle salad for summer and the effort is minimal, so hear me out. Soba noodles take but two minutes in boiling water and I’ll let you into a secret – hardly military base level stuff this – I often use those ready-cooked salmon fillets from the supermarket. I know. This is where someone jumps in to tell me they’re cooked in arsenic steam or vapours of Piers Morgan. Chop chop now, head right down to the comments before the urge gets cold.

They’re really handy for a working lunch because you just flake them into whatever you’ve made and it feels pretty luxurious. You didn’t even look at a steamer basket! No burns for you. Pretty much any vegetables will work here, but I like to use a combo of avocado and cucumber if it’s really hot because: no cook. I’ve also enjoyed those little baby courgettes that are around now though — sliced thickly, they take just a minute to soften to optimum level and you can cook a handful of edamame or peas at the same time (just lob them in with the noodles for the last minute of cooking and save water like a hero).

The real superpower here though is the furikake. What is this word? It is the name of a Japanese seasoning consisting of seaweed, bonito flakes, sesame and other savoury bits and bobs, to be sprinkled on top of rice and other cooked foods – i.e. you use it as a finishing seasoning, rather than add it as an ingredient during cooking. Like most seasonings, it adds umami and the seaweed here ties in very well with the fish, as you can imagine. It’s great on loads of things including rice, eggs, tofu, soup, noodles or spaghetti. Go wild*. There are lots of varieties of furikake, and this is one we made with bits that were hanging about. The Japanese do these seasoning mixtures so well. See also: shichimi tōgarashi.

Anyway, this is a bold salad that’s cooling, delicious and takes barely any effort to make once you’ve got your furikake together which, to be honest, is an investment for the future anyway. What more do you want?

* There is an excellent and really quite mad furikake recipe from Freddie Janssen in Issue 02 of Pit. What are you waiting for?! 

Cold Soba Noodles with Avocado, Salmon and Furikake Recipe

This makes a substantial, dinner-sized salad for 2 greedy people. If you’re making it for a lighter meal I’d suggest reducing the noodles to 150g and adding 1 salmon fillet.

For the furikake (scale up as needed)

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon blitzed up seaweed, such as nori
Large pinch salt
Large pinch dried red chilli flakes
Large pinch bonito flakes (or ground dried shrimps or anchovies)

For the salad

1 or 2 cooked salmon fillets
200g soba noodles
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1/4 cucumber, quartered and sliced
A handful of frozen edamame beans
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of coriander leaves
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Chilli flakes

Make the furikake by mixing all the ingredients together and storing in an airtight container.

Cook the soba noodles for 1 minute in boiling water then add the edamame and bring back to the boil. Drain and run under cold water until cool. Add the sesame oil and mix through the noodles (easiest with your hands).

Combine the noodles and edamame with the avocado, cucumber, herbs, soy, vinegar and a good pinch of chilli flakes to taste. Mix well and serve sprinkled with furikake.

Chipotle Potato Skins

Potato skins, particularly when ‘fully loaded’ can be grim. I’ve come across one too many chewy potato boats harbouring a glob of rubbery cheddar and a smattering of flaccid bacon bits. No, thank you.

I’ve taken a slightly different approach to skins by baking and scooping out the potato flesh as usual, but then brushing them with a paste made from oil, salt and chipotle flakes before re-baking them briefly. This maximises crispness on the outside and leaves them coated in a salty, smoky chipotle crust. The top part has a thin layer of soft potato, which I topped with a blob of blue cheese dip and lime-heavy avocado salsa.

We ate them on New Year’s Eve as nibbles presented like this, but you could of course just make a pile of skins and serve the dip and salsa alongside. They’re like the best crisps ever. They were so addictive I nearly spoiled my appetite for the rest of the meal but then the rest of the meal was rib-eye with Béarnaise followed by chocolate cake so, you know, I struggled on…

Chipotle Potato Skins with Blue Cheese Dip and Avocado Salsa

(makes 16)

For the potato skins

4 baking potatoes
Chipotle flakes
Oil (e.g. vegetable or groundnut)

Prick the potatoes and place directly on the oven shelf at 200c for about 1.5 hours or until cooked through. When they’re cooked, cool a little and then cut in half. Scoop out the flesh from each potato, leaving a thin layer inside each skin. Cut each potato skin in half lengthways.

Mix together 1 tablespoon cooking oil with 1 tablespoon chipotle flakes and about half a tablespoon of salt. Brush this paste onto both sides of each skin. Arrange the skins on a baking tray and put back in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes. When ready, top with the blue cheese dip and salsa.

For the blue cheese dip

150-200g blue cheese
200ml sour cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (ish)
1 teaspoon mustard (I used sweet American mustard)
1 tablespoon chives, snipped with scissors

Make sure the garlic is well crushed then mix with all the other ingredients. Add some black pepper. It may need a little salt.

For the Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, finely diced
Small handful coriander leaves, picked and finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime

Mix the spring onions, coriander and avocado together, then squeeze in half the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper then taste and decide if you want more lime juice.