I seem to go through all or nothing phases with this website; a flurry of new content and then silence for a month. The fact I’m still sharing recipes after 12 years must count for something though, right? Just think of me now as a cantankerous old vending machine in need of a kick every now and then to get the Coke out.

I’m very into rice noodles (and soba, come to think of it) once the weather warms up. It’s gloomy today in London but the weather has generally settled into the sweet mid-20’s spot which is pretty much perfect as far as I’m concerned. You can keep your 30C+ until this city gets air-con.

I’ve always got the barbecue lit at this time of year, and we had a piece of really good onglet to put on it. Onglet wants to be cooked quickly and sliced thinly across the grain – this will leave you with just the right amount of chew. Sliced too thicky it can become a real jaw workout. The flavour is incredible, and it’s very inexpensive compared to the swaggering ribeye.

I made a dressing from a pounded scotch bonnet (hi, still me!), garlic, grapefruit juice, lime, honey and fish sauce – the kind of salty/sweet/sour/hot thing that gets me excited during the warmer months. Loads of crunchy veg and roughly torn herbs and you’ve got a pretty amazing dinner. This recipe serves four but we ate it between two followed by Double Caramel Magnums because we are greedy and not even the heat seems to affect my ferocious appetite.

Rice Noodles with Onglet, Grapefruit and Scotch Bonnet Recipe

(Serves 4, honestly)

It helps if you have everything ready before you cooking the onglet unless you are fast at prepping. So make the dressing and chop the veg while you are waiting for the barbecue to be ready.

1 large onglet steak, butterflied (you can ask the butcher to do this)
1 scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and chopped roughly (this is a hot dressing so reduce to half a pepper if you want less heat)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons grapefruit juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
The flesh of 1 grapefruit, segmented
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/4 daikon, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
4 leaves Chinese cabbage, frilly parts thinly sliced
170g flat rice noodles
White pepper, for seasoning the onglet (just use black if you like)

Prepare the barbecue for direct cooking.

Make the dressing by pounding the chilli and garlic to a paste in a pestle and mortar. Stir in the grapefruit and lime juices, fish sauce and honey. Taste and adjust until you have a good balance of hot/sour/salty/sweet – this depends on the sweetness of your fruit and heat of your chilli.

Once the barbecue is hot, season the onglet heavily with salt and less so with white pepper, then grill for 2-3 minutes each side. Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Cook the rice noodles by covering with boiling water and leaving for 6-8 minutes (or according to instructions on the packet).

Once the noodles are cooked, drain and mix with half the dressing. Slice the onglet very thinly and add to the noodles with the vegetables, grapefruit and herbs. Plate up and finish with the remaining dressing.

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.


Cold Sesame Noodles

I refuse to shun big bowls of carbs during summer, although I will concede that a steaming hot noodle soup or heavy pasta eaten in the blazing sun would be a little… sweaty. This is a cold noodle dish I’ve been enjoying for ages now; perfect hot weather carb binge material.

The predominant flavour is, DUH, sesame, which comes from, ideally, Chinese sesame paste. Tahini could also be used, although its flavour isn’t as strong so it needs bumping up with extra sesame oil. In the absence of Chinese sesame paste, however, I would recommend using peanut butter; it’s rather a nice variation.

The noodles are mixed with crunchy slivers of shredded cucumber and carrot. I also added some pickled mango because I had it around after a recent spree in the Asian supermarket; it’s considerably less pickled than one would expect from something labelled as such but it has a pleasing acerbic funk nonetheless.

The sesame dressing makes for one slippery bowl of noodles; I got into a right mess eating them. Catching myself in the mirror I marvelled at the way the sun had really really brought out my freckles. Then I realised my face was just covered with flecks of sesame noodle sauce…

Cold Sesame Noodles

(serves 2 people with proper appetites)

400g egg noodles
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1.5 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or peanut butter)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
1.5 teaspoons rice vinegar
Pinch sugar
Chilli oil, to taste (or chilli flakes)
3 spring onions, sliced (green parts only)
1 small carrot, cut into very thin strips (I have a nifty peeler that does this for me)
1/2 cucumber, de-seeded and cut into very thin strips (again, the nifty peeler)
1 piece pickled mango, cut into very thin strips (optional)
Sesame seeds, to garnish

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain and rinse them under cold water until totally cold. Toss them with the sesame oil and set aside.

Heat a little oil in a small pan and gently cook the ginger and garlic for about a minute.

Mix together the soy sauce, sesame paste, rice vinegar, sugar, chilli oil, garlic and ginger and then thin it out with water until it is the consistency of a dressing. You want it to coat the noodles but you don’t want it too thin either.

Pour the sauce over the noodles then toss with the spring onions, carrot, cucumber and pickled mango, is using. Garnish with extra chilli oil, a little more spring onion and sesame seeds.