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

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

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

If you are a spice lover, I strongly advise you to go to the Asian supermarket on the Quai de l’Ormeau to fill your cupboards with the essentials.

For more information or to book a Waterman Cookery School experience, go to cookinbelfast.co.uk.


Malaysian Squash and Coconut Laska

(For 4 people)

1 squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt

4 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 tbsp curry paste (3 red chillies, seeded; 2 tsp chilli flakes; 4 shallots, chopped; 5 cloves garlic; 3 stalks lemongrass; 3cm ginger; 1 tbsp cilantro ground; 1 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp ground turmeric; and 4 lime leaves – place all ingredients in a blender with 6 tbsp water and blend until smooth; place in a clean jar and refrigerate).

3 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 lime, squeezed and zested

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

2 cans of 400 ml coconut milk

400ml vegetable stock

A handful of spinach leaves

200g rice noodles

½ red onion, sliced

1 red pepper, seeded, thinly sliced

Small handful of mint leaves

1 lime, quartered


Start by making the curry paste and blend until you get a store-bought paste consistency.

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

In a sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to high heat. Add the shallots and cook until tender.

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

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

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

Add cooked squash, spinach leaves and cook until wilted.

Add noodles to boiling water and cook according to package.

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


Japanese Udon Noodle Soup

(For 4 people)

200 g drained tofu

5 tablespoons dark soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons coconut sugar (regular sugar will work)

Sea salt

rapeseed oil

200g mange-tout

400g udon noodles

2 spring onions, washed, sliced

1.5 liters of fish or vegetable stock

3 cm grated ginger

Sesame seeds to garnish


Start by removing the moisture from the tofu by wrapping it in a clean kitchen towel and pressing it down. Then cut into bite-sized cubes.

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

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook the mange-tout and remove them when they are al dente. Once removed, refresh with cold water.

In salted water, cook noodles according to brand instructions.

In a small saucepan, add the broth and ginger and bring to a boil. Remove the tofu from the marinade and add the marinade to the broth, letting it simmer gently.

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

To serve, add the noodles and mangetout to the broth and cook until heated through. Add spring onions and tofu and garnish with sesame seeds.

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