July 31, 2008

Filed under: Far East, Chinese, Oily fish — ros @ 6:41 pm

We are now on a tighter budget than ever before. In a couple of weeks I will be putting down a deposit for a rented flat. I suspect that many of you are lucky enough to not have to deal with the London rental market at the moment. To give you an idea of what it’s like, a small studio flat suitable for one person, that is not near any tube station requires an up front payment of just over £2,100. The ones near tube stations were approximately 30% more expensive.

This is why Goon and I will not be living together next year. He is still looking for a job and there is no way I can afford a flat to fit two people, especially not after I’ve supported both of us through the first year of my career.

Needless to say, I’ve spent most of this week with my head buried in various bargain bins around Hackney and Islington. Apologies to the peaople that I’ve hissed and/or snarled at for getting to the best deal before I could fight my way forward. Hunting for cheap food brings out the killer instinct in me. To make things even more exciting, as soon as the hot weather started, our ancient freezer let out a final wheeze, fell over and died. No more hoarding bargains for me- everything is now bought on the day. Of course, we’ve been having a lot of vegetarian food (more on that when camera is fully fixed) and eating meat only when it’s on offer.

Last Sunday, I was doing my usual rounds when I found a pack of two decent sized salmon fillets for just over £2. It was carried to the tills in a vice like grip. Salmon cheap! Salmon mine! Since it was the end of the week, I had spent all but £1 of our budget and so the salmon would have to be paired solely with things I had in the house already or could be bought at practically no cost. 

I carried out a cupboard and fridge audit and discovered that I have a lot of very useless stuff: little that could help me with the salmon. However, with a quick trip to the Turkish Grocers across the road, my remaining £1 bought me some coriander, three chillies and a red pepper, which combined with storecupboard stuff, made this.

crunchy sesame salmon

I’ve heard it said that, in order to enjoy salmon, you don’t need to do much to it at all. Just grill it until the skin is crisp and the fillet is slightly pink in the middle before serving with a wedge of lime and some buttered new potatoes. Not this salmon. This salmon was from a farmed fish, a touch fatty and just about to go out of date. Simplicity would merely accent it’s lack of freshness. But this is what strong marinades were made for. The fish was subjected to a burst of honey, soy, garlic and ginger, coated in sesame and fried untll golden. Then i contrasted the sweet saltiness with some earthy, spicy noodles. 

Crunchy Marinated Salmon with Hot Coriander and Peanut Noodles 

For the marinade… 

  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 level tablespoon light soy
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh root ginger
  • 1 teaspoon five spice
  • a touch of dry sherry or rice wine- enough to make this into a thin paste

and the rest….

  • 2 skinned salmon fillets (around 175g each)
  • sesame seeds- around 100g
  • 2 portions egg noodles, cooked.
  • half of a large bunch of coriander
  • 1 large green chilli 
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 red pepper, cored and sliced
  • 100ml sesame oil
  1. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade
  2. Cut the salmon into bite sized pieces. Toss in the marinate and refridgerate for at least an hour.
  3. Scatter the sesame seeds into a thick layer over a small plate. Keep another small plate at its side.
  4. Take a piece of salmon, shake off the marinade, then roll it into the sesame seeds, pressing down firmly, until it is well coated., Put it on the spare plate and repeat with the rest of the salmon.
  5. Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan. Fry the salmon pieces over a medium heat, turning every 30s or so, until they are golden brown. You may need to do these in batches, so keep a side plate handy.
  6. Put the salmon pieces on a plate, cover with kitchen foil and keep warm.
  7. Put the corianderand chilli into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Adding a little oil, at a time, continue to pulse until you have a medium thick paste. stir in the peanut butter and mix until smooth. This will prbably thicken the mixture, so you may want to blend in some more oil.
  8. Quickly stir fry the noodles woth the paste until heated through and well coated. Keep warm while you finish up.
  9. Sautee the red peppers in a little vegetable oil until they have softened slightly.
  10. Pour over the excess marinade from the salmon and let it bubble down to a glaze.
  11. Serve the crunchy salmon on the noodles with the peppers, pour over the reduced marinade and garnish with coriander leaves.

 

8 Comments »

  1. Wow Ros!! That’s a pretty ambitious meal for a woman on a budget - I’m deeply impressed :) The idea of crunchy salmon has me drooling… and the vision of you, snarling like American Werewolf in London while taking your salmon to the till while warding off other contenders, is priceless!!

    Comment by Jeanne — July 31, 2008 @ 7:05 pm

  2. Great salmon … but I hate reading about you young people having such struggles, it seems terrible that a highly qualified maths teacher should have such difficulty finding a decent place to live at a reasonable price.

    But I hope you can manage to snaffle yourself as good a rental bargain as you did with the salmon - as Jeanne says, priceless ;)

    Joanna

    Comment by Joanna — August 1, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  3. Jeanne, to be honest, I’m also trying to clear out my cupboards as well as save money- I don’t want to be shifting too much when I move. It so happened that I had a big bag of sesame seeds and loads (like 2 bottles) of sesame oil as well as the other bits and bobs.

    Joanna, I would not complain about my salary or my career for a second, but the housing rental market is nasty now. Up front payments of 10 weeks rent, just to move in + agency fees mean you’re looking at well over a grand, even if you’re sharing. To be honest I am in an odd situation. I was thinking I’d be joint renting again next year, but Goon’s income has only been just enough to pay his rent since October, which means I’ve paid for all entertainment, food and household expenditure and hence saved nothing. That will deplete even a reasonable salary like mine. Once Goon gets a job, things will be fine but that may take a month or two and I have to move before term starts again.

    In reality, I’m lucky. Three of my friends have been made redundant in the last 6 months- they all are intelligent ladies in their mid twenties with degrees from the best universities in the country. I have to be thankful that at least maths teachers will be in demand for years.

    Comment by ros — August 1, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

  4. Sorry to hear you’re having such trouble finding somewhere. It seems I’m perpetually skint too, so I definitely know how you feel. 10 weeks upfront is seriously steep though. It’s much cheaper South East ;)

    Interesting use of 5 spice - often in Chinese cookery five spice is used in marinading and stewing / braising meat. I’ve noticed Ching He-Huang chucks it all over the place in her cookery programme though!

    Comment by Lizzie — August 4, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  5. If you can come up with something as good as this on a small budget - I would love to see more of the same from you!

    Comment by Margaret — August 10, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  6. Hi Ros, I sent you an email about the Market Kitchen Quiz - you’re on the team! Could you send me an email asap to confirm please, either on ukfoodbloggersassociation AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk or asliceofcherrypie AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk. Really looking forward to meeting you! Julia

    Comment by Julia — August 12, 2008 @ 7:37 am

  7. I am more than familiar with the London flat rental market, having been robbed blind every month myself for the past couple of years now. Currently in SE London, no tube station but still plenty of daylight robbery. I am very impressed with your budget meal though! I love a good store cupboard scramble. You made a little masterpiece out of yours.

    Comment by Helen — August 12, 2008 @ 11:43 am

  8. Schmoof, to be honest the five spice wnt in largely because that used up the last of it. It worked though.

    Margaret, I’m not entirely sure I’d class this as a budget meal. I happen to have a lot of crazy stuff in my storecupboard. In fact, I might do a post about that soon.

    Helen, it sounds like S.E. London is the place to be. I probably should have looked for a job at Dulwich school!

    Comment by ros — August 12, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

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