Knowing the secrets to building good noodle bowls will always get you out of a ‘I’m starving, what’s for dinner’ situation. The bowls can be prepped and finished off when people need to eat – perfect for houses where there are early and later eaters to cater for.
I tend not to follow a recipe when I make noodle bowls, like tacos, they are usually something I make and use whatever is in the fridge.
Making the perfect bowl is a perfect lesson in balancing texture and flavour. It is also a great way to pile a bunch of leftovers on the table and have people make up their own bowls, saving you time in the kitchen and giving children chance to experiment or be picky without you having invested emotion in cooking.
Noodle bowls also make a great packed lunch when served at room temperature.
The two ways I make noodle bowls
Here are two of my favourite recipes, which include ideas for how to play around with various combinations of ingredients.
Salmon, miso, ginger and herb noodle bowls
This recipe will make enough for 1 person so just increase it as needed. Please use this as a guide but change up the ingredients to suit what you have and what you like. Here are some alternatives to the ingredients in the recipe below:
- If you don’t have miso, you can use chicken or vegetable stock instead. Homemade or fresh bought stock is best.
- Switch the basil to coriander (cilantro).
- Veg wise – beansprouts, thinly sliced peppers (bell peppers), mushrooms and green beans work well.
- You could use prawns or a different fish or cook and thinly sliced steak or chicken instead. Leftover roast chicken, grilled salmon, pulled pork or steak is great. Just add them to the bowls of veg before you pour the broth over.
- Mix miso paste with 350ml /1 and a half US cups boiling water in a large saucepan. I find a small whisk best to mix it. You can use any miso paste – just follow the instructions on the jar for how much to use with the water. Find it in the Asian section of the supermarket in a jar, or, in some shops it is in the fridge.
- Add peeled and sliced fresh ginger, about an inch, and a peeled and sliced clove of garlic. Bring to the boil on a high heat.
- Add dried noodles to the miso broth. I like to use buckwheat soba noodles but you can use udon or egg noodles. Noodles have different cooking times so follow the timing on the packet. Make sure the noodles are submerged in the broth.
- Set a steamer on top of the pan, put a fillet of salmon in the steamer and put a lid over. The steam from the noodles cooking will cook the salmon. If you don’t have a steamer, you can pan-fry the salmon separately. The salmon usually takes about 5 minutes to steam. So once it is ready, lift the steamer off the pan and set it aside, leaving the noodles to cook in the miso broth.
- While the salmon and noodles cook, prepare you vegetables. You can either grate of spiralize them to make them small enough to cook quickly. I usually spiralize a courgette (zucchini), coarsely grate a carrot, chop 30g (1 oz) basil and shred spinach or kale. Put the herbs and raw vegetables straight into the bowl you’ll eat from.
- When the noodles are ready, pour the hot miso broth and noodles over the bowl of raw vegetables. The heat of the broth will wilt them a bit.
- Now you need to add your real flavours that will transform this bowl into something special. Add the following flavours a teaspoon at a time, taste and add more as needed. You need to add something bright and acidic (lime juice and zest or rice wine vinegar), something sweet (sweet chili sauce or some of my chilli jam) and something salty and umami (Tamari, soy sauce or Thai fish sauce). I need some heat so will add fresh chopped chillies, dried chilli flakes or Sriracha.
- Once you’re happy with the flavour of your broth, flake the cooked salmon into your bowl and scatter sesame seeds over. Dig in.
Or make these almond butter noodles bowls which have more of a hearty, satay vibe.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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