I've always been a fan of Japanese food - it's so fuss-free and wholesome, yet incredibly tasty. What surprises me the most about it, is how seldom I make it at home! People often shy away from making Asian food simply because they lack the ingredients - and who wants to go to a specialist store and buy a vast array of food stuff of which you're only going to use a fraction, with the remainder using up valuable pantry space until you finally have the guts to throw it away ten years later...
This dish uses things I readily have at home all the time and I guess most cooks would have the ingredients at hand - the Teriyaki marinade is made from scratch and any of the more unusual condiments can be easily substituted. If you cannot find green tea noodles, I often use plain buckwheat soba noodles (which is even healthier, eliminating the wheat), the Noilly Prat I used for the marinade can be replaced by Fino sherry or sake, white wine vinegar can easily stand in for the rice vinegar. The hot chilli bean paste is optional, but if you don't have it and want to add some spice, try wasabi instead.
For the marinade:
50 ml light soy sauce
30 ml Noilly Prat (or Fino sherry, or Sake)
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 stalks spring onions (thinly sliced)
1 small red chilli (finely chopped)
1 tsp sesame seed oil
300 g veal fillet (in one piece)
1 tbsp coconut or grapeseed oil (or anything you can use for frying)
150 g Japanese green tea or soba noodles
toasted sesame seed oil
a handful toasted sesame seeds
150 g fresh green asparagus
For the dipping sauce:
30 ml light soy sauce
15 ml rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 generous pinch caster sugar
hot chilli bean paste (to taste, I used half a teaspoon)
2 spring onions (thinly sliced)
Marinate the fillet at least 2 hours in advance, best overnight.
For the marinade, combine all the above ingredients in a tupperware container large enough to hold the veal fillet. Trim the fillet of fat and sinews and place in the marinade. Close the container tightly and shake to cover the meat evenly. Shake every 15 minutes, less frequently if leaving overnight - we all need our beauty sleep!
For the dipping sauce, stir the ingredients well, then fill into individual dipping bowls for serving.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Preferrably on a gas stove, heat a large frying pan. Add the oil to the pan and swirl around to coat it evenly. Place the fillet in the pan and fry to seal on all sides. Transfer into a casserole dish or plate and place in the oven for 15 minutes or to desired done-ness, I like mine medium.
While the meat is roasting, bring two large pots of water to a boil. Add some salt to the water when it starts boiling. In the one pot, cook the noodles to package instructions (usually 5 - 10 minutes), then drain, refresh and toss with a dash of sesame seed oil and sesame seeds. Trim the asparagus stalks, cook in the salt water until al dente (for thin stalks, this will take about 3 minutes), refresh in ice water, then toss in some sesame seed oil and sesame seeds.
Arrange the asparagus and green tea noodles on a large serving plate. Remove the fillet from the oven, slice thinly and place on the tray. Alternatively, you can serve the noodles in individual bowls.
Eat by dipping the asparagus and veal in the dipping sauce and enjoy with the noodles on the side.
* Adapted from "Diva Cooking" by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Jennifer Joyce - one of my favourite cookbooks. If you want dishes you can impress guests with, but that are easy to do, look no further!