I could eat this dish for every meal: a soft tangle of earthy noodles, the creamy sweetness of the crab, and the assertive rasp of citrus and galangal. I recommend the pink-fleshed, grapefruit-sized pomelos here, but the big yellow ones will do, too (if so, you may want slightly less – a quarter instead of half). Bottled yuzu juice is available in many major supermarkets now – use lime juice if you can’t find it, but it is definitely worth seeking out for this dish. You can vary the herbs according to your taste, and use cooked prawns instead of the crab, or tofu if you are vegetarian. If you can find grapefruit mint (often sold at garden centers), I highly recommend using its fragrant leaves.
For the dressing
1 tablespoon yuzu juice
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil, such as groundnut or sunflower
juice and finely grated zest of ½ a lime
2cm piece of galangal or ginger root, grated
1 tablespoon light brown soft sugar
For the noodles
150g soba noodles
1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 dressed crab, white and brown meat
½ fennel bulb, very finely sliced
½ pomelo (ideally one of the pink, grapefruit-sized ones)
1 avocado, stoned, and flesh cut into 2cm dice
4 tablespoons roughly chopped mint, basil, or coriander
First, whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small jug. Taste and adjust – you may want it a little sweeter, or sourer, so add sugar or lime juice accordingly.
Bring a pan of water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles according to packet instructions (usually 4–5 minutes), then drain well in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside in the colander to drain and dry a little.
Heat the rapeseed or olive oil in a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, chili, spring onions, and sesame seeds and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the garlic, spring onions, and chili are fragrant and starting to soften. Do not let the garlic brown or burn. Add the crab meat and cook for another 1 minute, stirring to combine everything, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the drained noodles in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well to coat the noodles. Add the fennel to the noodles in the bowl. Remove the tough outer skin and pith from the pomelo segments, breaking the flesh into small, roughly 1cm pieces. Add the pieces to the bowl with the fennel and noodles.
Gently toss the noodles with the fennel and pomelo, then add the crab mixture, avocado, and herbs and toss again gently to combine. Divide between two bowls and serve immediately.