Green tea noodles & arame seaweed with teriyaki smoked eel & avocado

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Preparation info

  • For

    4

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Green tea noodles (called cha soba in Japan) are a firm favourite of mine. They are the most gorgeous colour and they have a lovely firm texture and subtle earthy flavour. If you can’t find any, use plain soba noodles instead. Soba (the Japanese word for buckwheat) noodles are made with varying percentages of buckwheat flour and wheat flour - the latter giving them elasticity. However, the most expensive soba in Japan are made from 100 per cent buckwheat and they’re more brittle, hence I prefer ones that are around 70-80 per cent buckwheat. If ever you find yourself in Japan, head to a soba restaurant, they specialise in soba noodles as well as soba dumplings and various other delicious treats. The first time I combined smoked eel and avocado was back in 1987 at The Sugar Club restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand. I put them together in an omelette and they seemed perfectly suited. Over the years I’ve developed a fondness for Japanese teriyaki-style cooking, where a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sometimes sake is used as a glaze and marinade for grilling fish, meats and tofu. When cooked over a char-grill, or on the barbecue, the resulting smokiness that is created when the sugars in the teriyaki sauce drip down and caramelise over the hot embers adds a lovely dimension to the food you’re cooking. Failing that, it’s a good idea to use a non-stick pan when cooking this as the sugars can end up sticking to your pan and burning a little.

Ingredients

  • 250 g smoked eel fillet, all skin and bones removed
  • 50 ml soy sauce (choose one that isn’t too salty)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) mirin
  • 100 g green tea noodles (or use soba noodles)
  • 10 g dried arame or hijiki seaweed
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (white or black seeds)
  • ½ avocado, peeled, cut into dice sprouts or cress to garnish

Method

Cut the eel into eight even-sized pieces. Mix the soy and mirin together and place in a flat dish. Sit the eel in, give it a mix then leave for 10 minutes. Turn over and leave for another 10 minutes.

While the eel’s marinating, cook the noodles. Bring a large pot of very lightly salted water to the boil and add the seaweed and noodles, making sure they don’t all clump together when you add them. Give the pot a stir from time to time to ensure they cook evenly. When the water comes back to the boil it can sometimes boil over on the stove. Just before it does this add 200 ml cold water to the pan and again bring back to the boil. Add another 200 ml cold water to the pan then turn to a simmer and cook until they’re done - they are best with the slightest bite to them - a lovely texture. Drain into a colander and refresh under cold running water. Leave to drain for a minute then tip into a bowl and toss with the sesame oil and half the toasted sesame seeds then divide amongst your bowls which have been previously chilled in the fridge.

Take the eel from the marinade, reserving it. Place a non-stick frying-pan over a moderate heat and when it’s hot add the eel pieces, as many as will comfortably fit in the pan at one time. Cook for 1 minute then flip over and cook on the other side until coloured. Once all the eel is cooked add the marinade back to the pan with the eel and cook over a high heat until it mostly evaporates and develops a lovely sheen. Take off the heat and sit the eel on top of the noodles, drizzling on the pan juices.

To Serve

Scatter the avocado, remaining sesame seeds and sprouts or cress on top.