This recipe has risen straight to the top of my light, healthy, and incredibly delicious list. It’s an absolute winner, a fabulous combination of soft, comforting noodles bound together with an incredibly complex sweet-sour-citrus dressing, brimming with the tang of lime, the fiery rasp of fresh galangal and the richness of soy, brown sugar and tamarind.
There are some dishes that are just so beautifully light, healthy and nourishing that you could eat them by the plateful without feeling full or sickly or overindulgent. Every now and again I come across a recipe that fits into this category. I actually have a little list of them at the back of my handwritten recipe book, a series of go-to dishes that I can whip up if I’m feeling the need for gorgeous, fresh, vibrant food that’s light on the stomach and the waistline.
For such dishes, you can’t beat Asian flavours. Something magical happens when you combine the heat of chilli, the tang of lime, the saltiness of soy sauce and the sweetness of brown sugar: it’s like an instant cure-all for overindulgence. Add them to rich ingredients like crab, and you have a perfect marriage.
There are bright, moreish edamame beans for crunch, chilli for heat, and then the rich, sweet taste of fresh crab meat, all topped off with chunks of sweet pomelo and toasted sesame seeds. I’ve essentially thrown all my favourite far-Eastern flavours into a pan with some noodles and some crab, and it emerged as something far more than the sum of its parts. It’s very loosely based on an incredible dish of glass noodles with crab and garlic that I ate in Vietnam, but with an added arsenal of punchy flavours that work magically together.
There are a few ingredients here you might not be familiar with. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit. You can buy the juice in small bottles in Waitrose, it has an incredible deep citrus flavour, sharp like grapefruit but with an intriguing floral note. It’s not cheap, so I’ve listed substitutions for if you can’t find it or don’t want to splash out. Galangal is a root similar to ginger, but with a slightly hotter, more citrussy flavour; you can use fresh ginger though if you can’t get hold of any. Pomelo look like big grapefruit but have a sweeter, lighter taste and much firmer flesh which you can easily shred into chunks with your fingers. You could also use grapefruit for this recipe, but try and find pomelo (Asian grocers and larger branches of Sainsbury’s/Morrisons sell them), because their flavour is just delicious, especially if you find grapefruit too sour. Edamame beans are also known as soya beans; you can now buy them frozen in most supermarkets as you might peas or broad beans. Glass noodles are sometimes known as cellophane noodles, and are usually made from mung bean flour instead of rice or wheat flour. You can get them in Asian grocers, and they require only a brief soak in hot water before they’re ready to use. If you can’t find them, though, you can substitute thin rice noodles.
here's what you'll need...
- 150g glass noodles or thin rice noodles
- 1 red chilli
- 2 spring onions
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
- ¼ pomelo, or 1 grapefruit
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 150g cooked edamame beans
- Meat from 1 dressed crab
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp yuzu juice (optional)
- Lime wedges, to serve
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp grated fresh galangal or ginger
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 tbsp yuzu juice (or substitute with grapefruit juice/more lime juice)
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp tamarind paste
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt