Feeling a little down in the mouth today. Just dropped off Doopey, my five year old Bernese Mountain Dog, at the animal hospital in Utrecht for his lung biopsy procedure today. Breaks my heart to think that he will be in pain and will have to be kept in his kennel for the next two days while he recovers. In October the vets noticed a couple of suspicious spots on his right lung and told us to have a repeat chest x-ray eight weeks later to see if the dots were growing. Fair enough, so eight weeks later we went back and they told us the bad news … the spots had doubled in size and seemed to indicate that they were rapidly growing by the day. They took him off our hands that very day to run immediate diagnostics; we were so unprepared for it all and we trudged home that evening feeling like the house was just that little bit emptier without the furry buffoon.
Bernese Mountain Dogs ~ beautiful, hugable creatures with the most amazing temperament ever but the drawback with this breed, apart from the shedding of fur all year round, is they have one of the shortest lifespans of all the dog breeds. They are right up there with the Great Danes when it comes to premature death from various ailments. We were warned prior to getting this dog to ensure that we pay heavily for health insurance cover … and boy, we sure are glad we did. The first few years are always fine but once they hit the four to five year mark suddenly things start to happen all at once … at least for us it did. Some dogs are lucky to have good genes or they have been bred very carefully to eliminate the susceptibility to cancer, and they live a full and fulfilling life to the tune of up to ten years.
We picked this silly pooch up at the animal shelter two years ago on Christmas eve. Doopey (he came already named such and we never bothered changing it) was quite literally in the dog house for biting his previous owner’s mother-in-law. We had done our homework and knew we wanted to adopt a Bernese. We had scoured online three shelters in the Benelux region and found Doopey in a shelter here in the Netherlands. When I first laid eyes on him in person I thought he was way too big a dog for me to handle and he seemed unruly. In truth he was unruly … no manners or training whatsoever. Staff at the shelter could not even get him to calm down enough to get his collar on, but we knew we wanted him and that we would work on his behaviour. Took us three solid months to finally get him in line and to behave in a sociable manner. In those first three months he pulled and pulled on the leash until my arms felt like they were about to fall off … he fought with all the big males he came across in the park and he would just take off in any direction he saw fit.
These days tho he is a changed canine. He’s mellow, he waits for instructions before he eats, he loves people and other dogs … a complete 360º turn around; even the shelter staff could hardly believe the change in him after the three months when we took him back for a visit. He lived in the shelter for five months and they said only one guy was able to walk him then. Today, even the neighbour’s eleven year old can walk Doopey without so much as a problem. He’s become the light of our life and I will be completely shattered when he’s gone. In the meantime tho, while he’s still here with us and being a complete buffoon around the house, providing us with endless opportunities for laughs, we shall continue to shower him with love and the care he deserves. I hope he’s not too upset when he wakes up from the anaesthesia later in the day to find he’s behind bars again with no idea where we are. But if they feed him soon I guess that would make him happier … he’s garbage guts, eats anything that is offered without questions.
Anyway, he’s in there and I am at home trying to keep occupied, trying my hand at Japanese cuisine. Today I attempted some soba noodles with chopped spinach and grilled paprika salmon. Temperatures here have been on the up and up, hence I thought it would be alright for a cold lunch.
I had a couple of salmon fillets in the fridge and I adoooore seared salmon that’s just cooked on the outside but still pretty much raw on the inside. I also like to keep my fish simple in flavour … just salt, garlic powder and paprika. I don’t usually fancy a sweet glaze over the top and I typically sear the fish on a grill pan or broiled for all of five minutes. Always a good idea to buy fillets that come with the skin on and to pat them dry using kitchen towels before pan-frying to avoid nasty spatters of oil.
The noodles are simply plonked into boiling water for three to five minutes, then washed thoroughly under running water. And I mean REALLY wash them well otherwise they get kinda claggy when the starch starts to stick the noodles together. If in doubt use a drizzle of vegetable oil + sesame oil to unstick your noodles. A little bit goes a long way.
The spinach came in mini frozen blocks, so I simply popped those in the microwave for 90 mins and drained them fairly well after. For assembly I tossed the spinach and toasted sesame seeds in with the soba noodles. Rolled them up into nests and plated them in groups of three to a plate. The lightly seared fish fillets were sliced and added to the meal followed by a bowl of customary dipping sauce.
For the dipping sauce I mixed some water with Japanese light soy sauce, sesame oil and grated ginger.
Whoa … this was one of the best noodles meals I have made myself in a long while. Absolutely brilliant for summer or when you just want a quick healthy meal. None of the components take anytime at all to cook, plus everything is good for you. Throw in some cold silken tofu and you’ve got yourself an amazing powerhouse meal right there.
Spinach Soba Noodles & Grilled Paprika Salmon.
- 2x 4oz fillets of salmon (skin on)
- garlic powder
- 4 bundles soba noodles
- ½ cup frozen chopped spinach
- toasted sesame seeds
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Japanese soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- grated fresh ginger
1. Season the fillets with salt, paprika and garlic powder. Make sure the skin side is dry by dabbing them with kitchen towels before adding them to the pan. Sear the skin for 5 mins, then flip and cook for two mins. The inside will still be pretty raw, but that’s how I like my salmon. You can always cook yours for longer.
2. The noodles are simply popped into a pot of boiling water and cooked for all of 3 – 5 mins. Drain in a strainer and wash thoroughly under plenty of running water. Drain again then drizzle some veggie oil + sesame oil. Add the chopped spinach that have been heated in a microwave. Toss to coat and then roll them into nests and plate up.
3. Slice the fish and place them with the noodles. Serve with dipping sauce, perhaps with a side of cucumber salad as well.
~ Enjoy! ~