While S and I love nothing more than spending a full day working on prepping an amazing meal, the reality of our lives is that on most weekdays, we get home late, grab a quick dinner and then spend another couple of hours working before finally turning in. And I don’t think we’re alone. I think for many couples like us — couples who work together and who work for themselves — time becomes our most precious commodity. Simple, and once regular, pleasures like cooking a meal together or taking the day off to hang out become special events.

It’s become important then to learn to cook amazing meals in as little time as possible. When I was in university, one of my very first and still favourite cookbooks was Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food. This amazing little cookbook offers 350 recipes for great dishes, all of which can be made in under 30 minutes. But these days, even 30 minutes is a pretty long time.

One of our current favourite dishes is grilled Sanma. Sanma, for those of you unlucky enough not to have had one, is also known as Pacific Saury or mackeral pike. It is a long skinny fish with delicious flesh and skin. The great thing about Sanma is when fresh, you don’t need to do much to it. Just sprinkle a little salt, drizzle a little olive oil and cook it under a hot grill for a few minutes. It’s done when the skin starts to blister, the eyes turn white and pop out a little and your kitchen starts to fill with a lovely, cooked fish aroma (well, I like the smell… you might not).

The best thing is that the whole meal takes just 5-10 minutes to prep and cook. And while one person is looking after the fish, the other can throw together a quick salad or pop open a bottle of wine.

Other ultra-quick faves include Mentaiko pasta, and roast duck noodles, and bara-chirashi, all of which I’ve written about before.

So what’s your favourite ultra-quick meal?

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!


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9 November 2008


This is a ‘gotcha’ post…I was expecting something about Taco Bell or Burger King and was all set to give you ideas of how to have healthy meals quickly. Got-me.

What a great idea! I haven’t had sanma in ages.
To follow in your fishy tradition, what I haven’t done since a kid but absolutely love, bake a small salmon steak and top over green tea and rice, sprinkle furikake: sake chazuke!

Time is precious, even more so when kids get into the picture. Just wondering if you have any tips for a quick and simple meal for couples with kids?

Grilled fish is my favourite “fast food” too! I do this almost every week with blackspot threadfin. Just a dash of sea salt, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and cooked in my La Creuset grill pan makes a heavenly dinner.

Shrimp that has been marinated for a few minutes in olive oil, garlic, lemon and basil. Throw quickly onto my grill pan with a few scallions (I drizzle the remaining marinade on those) and throw everything on top of greens. I love how quickly shrimp cooks up, and how easily it takes on other flavors.

Mmm, those little fishies are making me so hungry!

In a much less gourmet way, breakfast for dinner is very popular ground these parts, as are grilled sandwiches with soup or anything in a tortilla.

I am so hungry for lunch now!!!

Your sanmas bring back fond memories of eating smoked herring in Holland. My favourite quick dish is my cheesy potato melt: small hashbrown potatoes, diced onion, diced red pepper, a pinch of paprika and salt and pepper, all fried together and with grated cheddar melted on top!

yum… samma! one of my favorite fish for nigiri when our local spot has it fresh. broiling fish over high temps is a fantastic idea for a quick dinner. we like to use hamachi kama when we can get a hold of it, since it stays so moist and juicy under the heat. otherwise, if time is super tight, we’ll do a quick spaghetti with a bright sauce of canned san marzano tomatoes, garlic and chili flakes. 12 minutes start to finish!

I really enjoy your blog – and this topic is fantastic. My fav fast food would have to be good italian bread toasted – rub garlic, with thinly sliced motz cheese, thinly slices Jersey tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pep, and fresh basil on top.

If you have a moment can you check out my blog and what you think http://lastmealjourney.blogspot.com/ ? I am trying to get a critique from the other blog authors that I enjoy.

Thank you in advance,

Mmmmmmmmmmmm beautiful!! sometimes the most simplest way of preparing food is the most beautiful, looking at it reminds me of the countless fresh and raw kip fillets i’ve consumed back in the netherlands… makes me wish i was back there 🙁

My fav super quick goto staples are: baked vegetables (zucchini and tomato tossed with basil and olive oil with an egg on top) and mah poh tofu. Quick, tasty, and healthy!

grilled fish fingers, topped with tomato ketchup in the middle of toast. taken off a jamie oliver cook book.

if not, just a simple canned cream of chicken. i just throw in sliced cheese, a small can of mushrooms and fresh diced tomatoes. 🙂

I just recently started reading your blog, and what a great one it is. A lot of attention and detail given to the writing, the food and your lovely kitchen. Bravo!

P.S. My favourite “fast” food – buttermilk roast chicken drumsticks. You can premarinate it and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it!

I love cold soba noodles. Best recipe I have found is by Nigella Lawson. I am not a fan but some of her older recipes are very good.
Just takes patience with the noodles to leave them, so the flavours mingle and get better…..

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