ALL OF THE UMAMI!

My intention this week was to make salmon and egg donburi, and a strawberry baked Alaska, to test my new blow torch out! However, yesterday I discovered I did not have any rice in the cupboard (how the Hell I let that happen I do not know), and my strawberry ice cream appears to be edible anti-freeze.

So... I replaced the rice with soba noodles and made something else with salmon that I have been calling, as you might guess from the title, ALL OF THE UMAMI!

Umami is the fifth taste, or maybe it isn't. The jury is still out on that point. If it's not a taste, its chemical constituents are certainly a flavour enhancer, much like salt. It works with other compounds to give our tastebuds a whale of a time. It's the savoury, comforting taste of meat broths, smelly hard cheeses, spag bol, anchovies... but enough science.

My recipe involved a bunch of things high up on the umami list, with some tangy flavours for contrast. I took a few elements from different recipes for ALL OF THE UMAMI. The soba dressing from the hipster-tastic Turntable Kitchen, which pairs music from new artists with its recipes, and the salmon dish was based on one from Eating Well.

First things first; I set aside a mixing bowl with cold water and some ice cubes to dunk the soba noodles in once cooked. Very important!

Then the food! I fried up four or five sun dried tomatoes in the olive oil they had been kept in, along with a handful of sliced spring onions (only the white parts, the greens I used later), half an orange's zest and half a clove of garlic (I'd use a whole one but the boyfriend is intolerant, literally; strong garlic makes him sick). Once the tomatoes had started browning I threw in a handful of kalamata olives (unpitted, but whatever), gave them a little stir and added a salmon steak, seasoned with black pepper and rosemary. I covered it with a pan lid and let it do its thing while I boiled the kettle for the soba noodles.

Soba cooks quickly; in already boiling water for six to eight minutes, depending on the desired texture (it's all on the back of the packet). Thank you, Google Now. I talk to my phone a lot while cooking.

"Okay Google! Give me an alarm in 7 minutes."

"Setting alarm for 15:39."

"Thanks, Google."

There's no need to say thank you, it's just polite.

Turn the salmon. Make some tea...

I don't usually like al dente. I'm not a big fan of crunchy food that gets stuck in molars. I went for the authentic soba texture though, boiled the noodles for only seven minutes, drained and dunked them straight in the ice water. Soft on the outside, with enough bite in the centre to, supposedly, please the teeth. Hmmmm...

A dash of olive oil, again from the sun dried tomatoes, dark soy sauce, a fingernail of finely chopped fresh ginger, a squeeze of lime juice and tiny nub of brown miso made the soba dressing. I also tossed the chopped green ends of the spring onions through the soba and dressing.

I removed the skin from the salmon, and flaked it, pulling out the bones as best I could, mixed it up with the tomatoes, olives etc and plonked it all down next to the soba.


I'd do the soba longer next time. I just... don't like the chewy thing. Not too long though; cold, totally mushy soba doesn't sound any more appetising.
Other than that; taste-splosion! The umami and tangy flavours basically did battle all over my tastebuds, vying for attention and sparking off each other. The Man in Black and Inigo Montoya, on a plate...

No, wait... reel that thought back in!


Everything worked together just beautifully. Warm olives are a revelation. They are going in more dishes. Way more dishes. Admittedly, they're a little hard to grab with chopsticks, even when softened by the cooking.

Now... is that bloody ice cream frozen so I can do the baked Alaska yet?!
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