At times when I was recipe-testing for Sweet Home, my new dessert cookbook, no joke, we had cakes, cookies and pies on every counter surface.
I swear, when my neighbors saw my number on caller ID they avoided answering the phone fearing I would inundate them with more plates of sweets. We all (my neighbors included) were on sugar overload. Even my kids had had enough. At one point, my twelve-year-old daughter Anna asked if we could have a “really healthy dinner” every night for a week. “No desserts!” she said.
Mind you, we generally eat quite healthfully. However, this was my chance. You see, Anna was quirky when it came to salmon. She ate it raw and smoked, but would not touch it grilled or roasted. No cooked salmon for her (and I never forced the issue because she ate any other cooked fish).
I was determined though because as much as I like to please my family, it drives me nuts when I’m forced to be a short-order cook. Whenever I made fresh salmon, I always prepared something else for my quirky gal.
“Hmmm, salmon is extremely healthy Anna, in fact, it’s one of the healthiest fish you can eat. How about if I make it slightly undercooked, so it’ll taste almost like raw?” She bit. “Sure, I’ll try it.” I was speechless, but went with it.
And because she likes all things teriyaki, I made salmon with a simple soy sauce glaze. It had to be easy so I had little invested in the meal. I didn’t want the disappointment of slaving over the stove only to hear, “I don’t really like this Mommy.”
I also cooked up some soba noodles—my all-time favorite go-to pasta because it cooks in about three minutes—and veggies in case she just couldn’t down the fish.
Guess what though, she did—and exclaimed how much she liked it.
The lesson I learned: Never give up. When you are certain a family member won’t try something, still casually offer. (Even my 80-some-year-old father-in-law swears he hates blueberries yet he still downed two servings of blueberry crisp last summer. I just served it up and he ate it. We’re not sure if this was sheer forgetfulness, did he forget for a short moment that he doesn’t like blueberries, or has he had a change of heart late in life?). Anyway, just keep trying!
This meal may take you all of thirty minutes. If you mix up the sauce and prep the vegetables in the morning (wash and chop them), you can be done in fifteen, which leaves time to make dessert! Oh, that’s right, this is part of the healthy dinner week. Okay, maybe top off the meal with a small serving of fruit sorbet instead. Enjoy.
Teriyaki Salmon and Soba Noodles with Vegetables
1/2 pound soba noodles
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup low-sodium tamari soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 pounds center-cut wild salmon fillet
1/2 cup baby carrots
1/2 head bok choy, coarsely chopped
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped scallions, plus extra for garnish
1. Preheat the broiler. Boil the soba noodles according to the package directions and drain. Toss with the sesame oil and set aside.
2. Steam or boil the vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes or longer according to your preference. Drain and set aside. (I actually just toss the noodles and veggies together and boil, but if you like your vegetables cooked longer than 3 minutes, cook them separately.)
3. Meanwhile, stir together the tamari, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to simmer until the mixture becomes slightly thicker and reduced by about one third. Remove from the heat and stir in the scallion.
4. Heat a lightly-oiled grill pan or oven-safe skillet over high heat. Put the salmon skin-side down in the pan. Reserve 1/4 cup of the soy mixture and brush the top of the salmon with about 1/2 of the remaining soy mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes. Brush the fish with the remaining mixture (not the 1/4 cup you set aside). Transfer the pan to the oven and broil for another 3 to 7 minutes depending on desired doneness. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes while you toss the noodles.
5. Place the drained noodles and vegetables in a large bowl. Pour the remaining soy mixture over the noodles and toss.
6. Cut the salmon fillet into 4 or 6 pieces, sprinkle with scallion, and serve with a heaping pile of soba noodles.