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Donal Skeehan’s easy meals that really pay off

Try these recipes for a trendy poke, simple pasta or tofu stir-fry


Salmon Poke

Salmon Poke

Spaghetti al Limone with Prawns & Broccolini

Spaghetti al Limone with Prawns & Broccolini

Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Stir Fry

Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Stir Fry


Salmon Poke

This week I have three clever kitchen recipes that are big on the payoff when dinner time rolls around. Simple methods, clever flavours and all very easy to prepare.

As food trends come and go I find myself either highly sceptical or easily sold. I am, after all, someone who has made their name on Youtube with a One Pan Pasta recipe, so I certainly cannot sit here and write about my ambivalence towards the wild world of online food trends.

Hawaiian Poke bowls had their moment a couple of years ago but I have to confess it’s taken me until now to muster up excitement for them. Hawaiians have been enjoying their national dish since the 1800’s and although there are many variations, in simple terms poke (pronounced po-kay) is a bowl of white rice topped with fish (often salmon or tuna) with soy sauce, sesame oil, spring onions, chilli flakes, ginger & seaweed.

In poke restaurants you’ll find plenty of extra toppings like cucumber, avocado, edamame beans, so you can see why a customizable dish like this could become popular the world over.

From a homecooks perspective, this is essentially an easy to prepare supper that packs a punch- bonus if your kids will try fish as you assemble these bowls at the table and everyones a winner.

Anyone who has cooked from my books will know my love for all things Italian food. The pay off from a pasta dish is almost instantaneous, 10 minutes to al dente in which time you can toast and crush peppercorns and grate Pecorino for cacio e pepe or fry off pancetta or better yet chunky pieces of guanciale for the bones of a really good carbonara. In my kitchen when it comes to dinner time, more often than not pasta is the answer. The spaghetti al limone here is made slightly more substantial with prawns & broccolini and is the type of clever cooking kitchen recipe I find myself turning to. The secret to simple recipes is the quality of ingredients - choose the best and you will see the results in the finished product.

Tofu is often overlooked in my house but I have gotten into the regular habit of using it at least once a week in different dishes as a meat free option. It’s not an ingredient I grew up with so it’s taken a little practice to make it a regular ingredient in my arsenal. The silky smooth stuff is great for soups but what I’m particularly interested in is the more firm variety. It fries beautifully and the trick is to press as much liquid from it as possible, this will allow you to fry it hard and get crispy golden results. If you are a tofu novice, allow me to convert you with the recipe here for spicy tofu & mushroom stir fry- just be sure to pick up a pack of firm tofu and you are good to go.

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Spicy Tofu & Mushroom Stir-fry

Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

What you’ll need
280g firm tofu
3 tbsp sunflower oil
170g mixed Asian mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, enoki), torn into equal-sized pieces
4 spring onions, cut into 2cm pieces
150g sugar-snap peas
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chilli-bean sauce
Coriander leaves, to serve

Press the tofu firmly between sheets of kitchen paper to dry it out, then cut into 2cm cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or frying pan and fry the tofu cubes for a few minutes, turning, until golden brown. Remove to a plate, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, and fry the mushrooms over a high heat until they are browned all over. Add to the tofu.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan, add the spring onions, sugar-snap peas, ginger and chilli, and fry for a few minutes over a medium heat to soften.
Mix in the soy sauce, rice vinegar and chilli-bean sauce and cook for 1 minute. Then return the mushrooms and tofu to the pan and toss well until everything is combined.
Serve with a scattering of coriander leaves.

Spaghetti al Limone with Prawns & Broccolini

Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

What you’ll need
350g dried spaghetti
320g tenderstem broccoli
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of chilli flakes
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
100ml single cream
30g grated Parmesan cheese
150g cooked prawns

Cook the pasta in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, adding the broccoli to the pan for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking. Just before the cooking time is up, remove 200ml of the cooking water and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic, chilli flakes and lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the cream and Parmesan and whisk well to combine. Gradually whisk in enough of the pasta water to make a glossy sauce.
Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the sauce with the prawns. Toss to combine, adding more pasta water if needed. Check the seasoning, add a little squeeze of lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Salmon Poke Bowl

Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

What you’ll need
225g sushi rice
500g sashimi-grade salmon, diced
2 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 tsp sesame oil
Generous pinch of sugar
1 avocado, sliced
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp white and black sesame seeds

Rinse the sushi rice really well, changing the water a few times until it no longer runs milky-white. Fill a saucepan with 350ml of cold, salted water and add the rice. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes. Then fluff up with a fork and leave to cool slightly.
Use a fork to blend the soy sauce with the mirin, chilli flakes, sesame oil and sugar. Pour over the salmon and let it stand for no more than 5 minutes.
Divide the just-warm rice between four bowls. Top with the salmon, avocado and spring onions.

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