Food & drink

James St Recipes: Spice it up for January - Japanese udon noodle soup and Malaysian squash curry

Japanese udon noodle soup
Niall McKenna

NOW that the Christmas holidays are a distant memory, and with temperatures continuing to drop, I always crave something warming, hot and spicy in the month of January.

These two flavoursome soup recipes are easy to make and are packed full of healthy nutrients. Soup is a great lunch option for those getting back on track in January.

If you are fan of spice, I highly recommend visiting the Asian supermarket on the Ormeau embankment to fill your cupboards with the essentials.

For more information, or to book an experience at the Waterman Cookery School, visit


Malaysian Squash and Coconut Laska

(Serves 4)

1 squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt

4 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 tablespoons curry paste (3 red chillies, deseeded; 2 teaspoons chilli flakes; 4 chopped shallots; 5 cloves garlic; 3 lemongrass stalks; 3cm ginger; 1 tablespoon ground coriander; 1 teaspoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ground turmeric; and 4 lime leaves - place all ingredients in blender with 6 tablespoons of water and blend until even; place in clean jar and refrigerate).

3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar

1 ½ teaspoons seas salt

1 lime, juiced and zested

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

2 x 400ml cans coconut milk

400ml vegetable stock

Handful spinach leaves

200g rice noodles

½ red onion, sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded, thinly sliced

Small handful mint leaves

1 lime, quartered


Start by making the curry paste and blend to a shop bought paste consistency.

Preheat the oven to 180C, drizzle the squash with oil, season with salt and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

In a deep-frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to the heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft.

Turn down the heat and add 4 tablespoons of the curry paste to the pan, cooking for 7 minutes. The curry paste should become fragrant.

Add sugar, salt, lime zest, lime juice and the tamarind paste, cooking until everything is sizzling in the pan. Add in the coconut milk and simmer, stirring gently for 10 minutes.

Once cooked, taste and season with salt, and add in a little more lime juice or sugar if required.

Add the cooked squash, spinach leaves and cook until wilted.

Add noodles into boiling water and cook according to the packet.

To serve, ladle the coconut broth into a bowl, add cooked noodles and scatter with red onion, chilli and mint. Serve immediately and garnish with a wedge of lime.


Japanese Udon Noodle Soup

(Serves 4)

200g Tofu, drained

5 tablespoons dark soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (ordinary sugar will work)

Sea salt

Rapeseed oil

200g mangetout

400g udon noodles

2 spring onions, washed, sliced

1.5 litres fish or vegetable stock

3cm ginger, grated

Sesame seeds to garnish


Start by removing moisture from the tofu by wrapping it in a clean tea towel and squeezing. Then chop into bite sized cubes.

In a clean bowl, add soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Mix with the tofu and place on clingfilm leaving it to infuse for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, cook off the mangetout and remove when al dente. Once removed refresh in cold water.

In the salted water, cook off the noodles as per the brand instructions.

In a small saucepan add the stock and ginger and bring to a simmer. Remove the tofu from the marinade and add the marinade to the stock, leaving on a gentle simmer.

Add the oil and tofu to a heated frying pan and cook on each side until golden. Once cooked, remove from pan and place on a clean towel to drain off the excess oil.

To serve, add noodles and mange tout, to the stock and cook until warmed through Add the spring onions and tofu and top with sesame seeds.

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