One of the things I love most about Bank Holiday weekends in London (especially when you have two in succession!) is that they give you the opportunity to get out to all the places you love to visit but often don’t have time to cram into a normal, piddly-short, weekend.
For me, one such treat is a visit to The Japan Centre on Piccadilly. Bursting at the brim with fresh Japanese food (including a fairly extensive sushi selection), ingredients and cooking utensils to inspire you to dabble at home, The Japan Centre is a cornucopia of delights for any foodie keen on Japanese fayre.
After whetting your appetite in the store there’s a restaurant, Toku, conveniently located next door where you can dash in for a quick and delicious meal if you can’t wait to feast until you get home (always my downfall – I’m too impatient).
We nipped in there over the weekend for a bite to eat and enjoyed it immensely. A word of warning however is that the menu is pretty vast so it helps to have an idea of what you fancy before you go in otherwise you’ll end up like me, scratching your head for 20mins trying to decide before spotting the meal of the diner on the next table and just picking whatever they’ve got. The good news is that it all looks delicious enough that it’s a tough choice for a good reason, rather than there’s just nothing you’d want to risk eating.
I ordered the Teriyaki salmon with salad, rice and a bowl of miso. At £11 it didn’t come cheap but the portions are overwhelmingly generous and (even!) I was unable to finish. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the lady at the next table for choosing the same, as it was simply delicious. The salmon was cooked perfectly and melted like butter in the mouth. If there was one criticism however the salad could have done with being a touch fresher as some of it was rather wilted, however, if like me you view salad as simply a garnish to a meal you’ll just push it to the side to make more room for rice and scrumptious salmon.
Suitably inspired I returned home with my bag full of goodies from The Japan Centre and, the following evening, decided to make a healthy, Japanese inspired, salmon dish myself. Taking only 15mins to prepare and cook, this is a fantastic option for when you return home late from work and want something quick & easy, but still quite healthy.
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 fresh Salmon fillets
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp chopped, dried chillies
White miso paste
Punnet of chestnut mushrooms
3 Fresh spring onions, thinly sliced
Dried rice noodles
450ml boiling water
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark4.
2. Lay a large square of tin foil on your kitchen worktop. In the centre of the foil place the salmon fillets side by side and drizzle over a little olive oil. Sprinkle one third of your chopped garlic and ginger over the fillets, and then add the whole teaspoon of black sesame seeds. Drizzle over a little soy sauce and mirin and the wrap the foil around the salmon to create a loose, however fully sealed, parcel. Place the parcel on a baking tray and put in the middle of the oven to cook for 10-12minutes.
3. When the salmon has been in the oven for a couple of minutes, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan, over a medium heat, and add the remaining garlic and ginger along with the dried chillies. Sweat the garlic, ginger and chillies in the oil for a couple of minutes stirring continuously. Chop the mushrooms and add to the saucepan, continuing to stir. After another minute add 2 dessertspoons of white miso paste and stir rapidly. Quickly pour in 450ml of boiling water and stir through so that the miso paste dissolves thoroughly. Lightly simmer for 3-4mins and then add in 2 portions of rice noodles and the pak choi. Continue to lightly simmer for a further 2 minutes. Taste to check that there is enough miso flavour, if not then add more paste to taste.
4. When the noodles and pak choi are soft, ladle the noodle soup out into 2 bowls. Sprinkle over the sliced spring onions.
5. Carefully remove the salmon parcel from the oven and unwrap the foil. With a fish-slice pick up the salmon and transfer to the bowls placing atop the noodles in the soup.