Asian midweek dinners by Donal Skehan
Szechuan pork & green bean stir fry and spicy steak noodle bowl with sesame soy dressing
This month I have been travelling across Asia, taking in six countries; Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Macau and Japan. It’s a whirlwind journey for a new TV series which will air in Ireland and the UK next year. It’s been an incredible opportunity to explore the complex cuisines of a continent that has always intrigued me. The high summer temperatures and humidity have only added to the hustle and bustle of each city and heightened the experience. My days have been spent focusing on specific food stories, like the sweet South Korean LG businessman who teaches baking to his fellow male workmates as a means to help them find partners – it certainly beats the guided tours and catapults you into the worlds of each of the local people I have met. My evenings provide more freedom and an opportunity to sample some of each cities’ best food offerings. A fantastic chance to indulge my love of Asian ingredients and sample some of the more interesting dishes these diverse countries have to offer.
I have been out of my kitchen for over a month and I am already looking forward to getting back to cook through some of the brilliant dishes I have sampled. With that in mind, this week it’s all about simple Asian dishes that make perfect weeknight suppers.
There are many directions to take a pack of minced meat but one way to really make it something special is in a Szechuan pork & green bean stir fry. By simply frying the pork mince with aromatics like ginger, chilli and Szechuan peppercorns and combining with green beans and vegetables of your choosing, you have dinner in minutes with minimal effort.
Simple Asian flavours can be created with great ease once a little time is spent on stocking up on pantry basics. Soy sauce, sesame oil and fragrant spices can be bought in much larger quantities and often with much better quality and more variety by seeking out Asian specialty stores. Many of these ingredients keep extremely well for more than six months, meaning a small investment allows you to make use of them in plenty of dishes. The steak noodle bowl I’ve shared here makes great use of these store cupboard ingredients; sesame seared steak slices on a bed of udon noodles with crunchy Chinese cabbage strips and corian- der leaves are tossed together with a simple dressing – a hit for a quick bite.
Two rather simple dishes that deliver an instant hit of Asian aromatics. Both are delicious for a weeknight dinner but rather satisfyingly, should you have leftovers, each improves in flavour the day after cooking.