January is a month for new beginnings, healthy outlooks, nourishing ourselves and comfort, but it can often be a challenge to see how all of these things fit together to be satisfying and virtuous. The good intentions of January – to detox, or at the very least to break from the heavy excess of December – sit in stark contrast to the general malaise of our moods and the weather. If this feeling rings true, or, just as importantly, if you love the goodness and warmth of a pool of broth brimming with noodles as much as I do, then let me present to you the Clementine Miso Noodle Bowl; your January saviour.
Have you ever made your own noodle broth? It’s a lot simpler than it sounds, and so much more wholesome (not to mention tasty) than using a pre-made sauce or paste. All you need are a few simple but striking ingredients and some hot water, and you’re away. No added sugar, no nasty additives. I really wanted this dish to taste fresh but earthy – to bring energy to the new year but also comfort from the cold – and I think the combination of zesty, punchy clementine with brown miso and the gentle familiarity of spring greens and squash really do just that. This noodle bowl is a heady combination of western winter and eastern heat.
Miso adds that all-important umami element to the bowl. For dressings I like to use white miso, which is lighter and sweeter, but for this recipe I’ve used a brown ‘live’ paste, to give a rich savoury flavour that balances nicely with the tang of citrus. If you’re unfamiliar with miso as an ingredient I urge you to give it a go – you’ll soon come to love this staple of the Japanese diet!
And you’ll be amazed at how much flavour the tofu soaks up in this dish. The citrus, miso, chillies, ginger and garlic all work together to create something wonderful, with each mouthful bursting with fragrance.
This recipe is an irresistible source of winter-wellness! Some of the many benefits you can look forward to are:
- revitalised skin and immunity from the vitamin C found in clementines;
- minerals such as zinc and calcium from the squash, which are great for bone strength;
- the super powers of spring greens, which, aside from huge amounts of vitamin C, contain natural compounds that are thought to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties;
- the medicinal properties of garlic and ginger – your secret weapons to combat a cold;
- nutrients and antioxidants galore from the fermented miso, bringing you friendly bacteria; and
- an incredibly delicious meal, ready in just over half an hour, that will impress any noodle-lover!
So here is the recipe for a bowl of bright orange sunshine to look forward to at the end of a cold January day.
- 1 squash
- 2 red chillies
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
- 6 garlic cloves
- Peel from ⅓ clementine (unwaxed)
- 10g coconut oil (approx 1 tsp solid)
- 200g firm tofu
- 2 tbsp brown miso
- 3 tbsp tamari (or another good soy sauce)
- 750ml water
- 2 pak choi
- 6 spring onions
- 100g spring greens
- 125g shiitake mushrooms
- 160g buckwheat noodles
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- Handful of fresh coriander leaves
- Peel the squash using a sharp knife. I find it easiest to top and tail it, then cut in half across the middle and peel each half. Once peeled, slice in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and fibres, then chop into small cubes.
- Slice the chillies and garlic, peel the ginger then slice into long, thin slivers.
- Slice the clementine peel into very thin strips, no longer than an inch.
- Drain the tofu and pat dry using kitchen paper. Cut into small cubes.
- Melt the coconut oil in a large pan on a moderate heat. Once hot, add the chillies, garlic and ginger. Let these cook for a couple of minutes before adding the clementine peel and tofu pieces. Give it a gentle stir to ensure the tofu doesn't stick.
- Next, add the miso, tamari and water, followed by the cubes of squash. Stir, cover with a lid and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, thinly slice the stems of the pak choi (I like to keep the leaves whole), the greens and the spring onions. Slice the mushrooms in half.
- After 20 minutes, add the mushrooms, spring greens and pak choi stems to the broth and cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.
- To assemble the bowls, start with the noodles, followed by the broth, pak choi leaves and spring onions.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and coriander leaves to finish.