Oodles of noodles
Have fun with this mix-and-match Japanese noddle-bar party. Prepare the dishes ahead and join in with your guests to create your own unique combinations.
Have fun with a mix-and-match Japanese noodle-bar party.
Set the scene
Make your guests feel as though they are sitting in a noodle restaurant in the middle of Tokyo. Decorate a focus wall with Asian newspaper, calligraphy and a couple of pictures that fit in well with the theme. The colour scheme can be really bright with black and pink accents. Decorate the table with an assortment of ceramic bowls and cups from the East and arrange everything in a symmetrical and structured way. We covered an oblong wooden box with pink scrapbooking paper and placed it in the centre of the table for serving – your guests can help themselves to noodles from there. Round off with a couple of lanterns and a playful ‘open’ neon sign.
Bento box starter
Put each prepared dish in a separate container or section of a bento box. Accompany seafood dishes with a selection of vegetables. Use sliced sweet corn, steamed green beans and asparagus sprinkled with sesame seeds. Carrot slices, baby tomatoes and cucumber slices are also ideal. Clockwise from top left: selection of green vegetables, sliced sweet corn, sesame fish balls, smoked salmon sushi pieces and lollipop prawns. (Recipes on pages 8-10.)
Prepare two types of noodles, two to three different types of meat, and a few bowls filled with stir-fried vegetables like sweet pepper or Chinese cabbage. Also have two to three different dipping sauces, and bowls of Japanese pickle, shredded spring onions and chopped roasted peanuts or cashew nuts. Put everything on the table so your guests can help themselves and make the noodle dish of their choice by mixing and matching the ingredients.
Cook 1 packet of Chinese noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix 30ml lime or lemon juice, 30ml soy sauce, 5ml brown sugar, 5ml sesame oil and 45ml freshly chopped basil or coriander. Pour over the noodles and toss well to coat.
Cook the soba noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and then add 250ml stock made with instant dashi granules, or use chicken or vegetable stock. Add 3 thinly sliced spring onions, 10ml grated fresh ginger and 1 clove of crushed garlic. Stir well.
SOY AND GINGER: Mix 120ml light soy sauce, 5ml sesame oil, 30ml water, 3 finely chopped spring onions and 15ml finely chopped pickled ginger.
SOY AND CHILLI: Mix 120ml light soy sauce, 30ml water and 5-10ml chilli paste or finely chopped chillies.
SWEET AND SOUR: Mix 90ml sugar and 15ml cornflour together. Stir in 35ml white vinegar, about 150ml water, 30ml light soy sauce and 15ml tomato sauce (ketchup). Cook over a low heat, stirring until thickened.
Buy a masu, a square wooden sake cup, at an Asian store and spray paint it gold. Insert the invitation, a fortune cookie, sweets and chopsticks and round off with a satin ribbon in a colour that fits with your theme.
Sesame fish balls
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes
500g fish fillets
4 spring onions, chopped
10ml grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
10ml soy sauce
10ml lime or lemon juice
3ml sesame oil
100ml sesame seeds (black and white)
oil for deep-frying
sweet chilli sauce or sweet-and-sour
sauce, to serve
1 Put the fish, spring onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar and sesame oil in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. 2 Roll the mixture into balls and then roll in the sesame seeds. Deep-fry over a medium heat until golden and cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or sweet-andsour sauce for dipping. TIP As a healthier alternative to frying, bake the balls at 180oc until done.
Smoked salmon sushi pieces
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: about 1 hour, plus chilling time Cooking time: 10 minutes
300g sushi rice
60ml rice wine vinegar
15ml castor sugar
100g smoked salmon slices
1 ripe but firm avocado
nori sheets, to garnish (optional)
1 Rinse the rice. Drain and put into a saucepan. Add 350ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until most of the water has gone. 2 Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a very low heat for 10 minutes. Switch off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes. 3 Heat the rice wine vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt together until the sugar has dissolved. Stir into the cooked rice. 4 Line a 20cm square tin with a double layer of plastic wrap. Wet your hands and then press the rice into the tin. Cover the rice with the slices of salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2-3 hours. 5 Just before serving, unwrap the mixture then dip a sharp knife into hot water and cut the sushi into small squares or rectangles. Top each one with a few slices of avocado and a small piece of pickled ginger.
You can also wrap thin strips of nori around the pieces of sushi, as a garnish. Cut strips of nori and brush a little water onto the ends of the strips so you can stick them together to hold them in place around the sushi.
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time Cooking time: 5 minutes
10ml grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 red chillies, seeded and chopped
100ml lime or lemon juice
10ml brown sugar
60ml peanut oil (or use sunflower)
400g prawns, peeled
1 Mix the ginger, garlic, chilli, lime juice, sugar and oil together. Pour over the prawns and marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. 2 Use small wooden kebab sticks or bamboo skewers and thread one prawn onto each one, so that the tail and head are both secured and the prawn forms a circle. 3 Heat a griddle pan or frying pan and cook the prawns for about two minutes on each side, until they turn white and are cooked through.
Tender brinjals with tofu
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
400g brinjals, sliced lengthways and
200g firm tofu, cubed
45ml sunflower oil
5ml instant dashi granules (or use
vegetable stock powder)
1-3ml dried crushed chilli
5ml fresh grated ginger
fresh coriander, to garnish
1 Wipe the salt off the brinjal slices. Cut into cubes. Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown the pieces. 2 Add 250ml water along with the remaining ingredients, except for the tofu and coriander. Bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until tender. 3 Heat a little more oil in a frying pan and fry the tofu cubes until browned. Add to the brinjals. Mix together and garnish with fresh coriander.
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: about 10 minutes
30ml sunflower oil
4 breast fillets, thinly sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into julienne strips
80ml teriyaki sauce
30ml chicken stock or water
1 Heat a large wok or frying pan. Add the oil and stir-fry the chicken over a high heat for two minutes. Remove from the wok and set aside. 2 Add a bit more oil and stir-fry the onions and carrots for a few minutes until the vegetables are cooked, but still crunchy. 3 Stir the cornflour into the teriyaki sauce and stock. Mix into the vegetable mixture and add the chicken. Cook, stirring, until thickened, being careful not to overcook. Remove from the heat.
Pork mince and mushrooms
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
1 litre prepared chicken stock
1 pack chicken wings
45ml sunflower oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
5ml grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g pork mince
125g mushrooms, sliced or chopped
35ml soy sauce
10ml brown sugar
15ml black bean sauce
15ml sake (optional)
5ml sesame oil
chilli oil, to serve
30ml white miso paste
(available at Asian shops)
15ml sake or dry sherry
15ml castor sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g steak (preferably rump)
Serve a selection of fresh fruit and a pot of green tea for dessert. You can also buy fortune cookies or a selection of Asian sweets to serve after the meal.
1 Heat the stock and add the chicken wings. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Remove the bones and skin and return the meat to the stock.
2 Heat the oil and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for two minutes, then add the mince. Stir for 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, sugar, black bean sauce, sake and sesame oil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
3 Stir in the stock with the chicken pieces and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season to taste. Serve spooned over the noodles with a dash of chilli oil.
Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus marinating time Cooking time: about 10 minutes
1 Mix the miso, sake, sugar and garlic together. Spread over the steak, cover and marinate for 1 hour or overnight.
2 Heat a griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan over a very high heat. Wipe the excess marinade off the steak. Add a little sunflower oil to the pan and then cook the steak for about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the meat. Rest for 10 minutes, then cut into thin slices. Add to some noodles and accompany with shredded radish, cucumber pickle and sesame seeds.
Let your guests eat out of takeaway noodle boxes. (You can use our instructions on page 92 to make your own boxes, if you prefer. Use only the template outline, so your boxes are white.) Search for a picture of a geisha on the internet and copy it in colour onto white paper. Stick it on the front of the box and use Chinese newspaper to decorate inside the flaps.