Baked Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables

It’s obvious that I like to cook.  I love the creativity and discovery involved and of course I love eating the results.  I also love the idea of cooking for other people, of providing them with a cozy meal and good company.  But the reality of cooking for other people makes me duck and cover.  I get nervous that something won’t turn out.  I’ll burn it at the last minute or I’ll accidentally add too much salt, ruining the whole thing.  Or (possibly worse) they’ll just think my food is kind of mediocre.  This is why you see so many “serves 1” recipes on this site.  I just can’t take the pressure.

And so I got a case of the heart palpitations last night when Jeremy mentioned he was having a client over to do some work at exactly the same time that I was planning on making dinner.  “But I’ve never cooked salmon steaks before!  What if she hates bok choy?  And how am I going to take my food photos without her thinking I’m a total weirdo?!?!”

Well, I solved that last problem by hiding around the corner in the kitchen and snapping some poorly-lit shots before serving the food.  As for the rest?  It turned out just fine.  In fact, I don’t think I could have chosen a less fussy, more rewarding dinner for company.  The brilliance is that everything goes in the oven at the same time and comes out at the same time.  Very little risk of forgetting something and burning it.  And salmon always bumps up the “wow” factor.

I chose to use salmon steaks because there was a killer deal on them at my local market.  One good-sized steak can easily serve 2 people.  Just divide it up after it cooks.  You could easily use another cut instead but your cooking time may be different.

Salmon Steaks with Ginger Sesame Vegetables
serves 4

Ingredients
– 2 salmon steaks (Wild-Alaskan preferred)
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 2 heads baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise and carefully washed
– 2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
– 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
– 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
– 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
– a few Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Place salmon steaks in a small glass pan and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set aside.  If you plan on serving this meal with rice, you can get that started now, too.

2. Place bok choy halves in a large glass pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Top with salt.

3. In a large bowl, toss cabbage, mushrooms, remaining olive oil, sesame oil, and ginger together with salt.  Add to the pan with the bok coy.

4. Put salmon and vegetable pans into the oven together.  Bake for 12-16 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.  Stir vegetables about halfway through.

5. Before serving, divide the salmon steaks in half, lengthwise.  Simply slide your knife along the line where the bones are.  Remove the larger center bone and all the smaller bones where you cut.  Don’t worry, they’re not too hard to find.  You can also remove the skin before serving if you’d like.  Serve with rice and top everything with toasted sesame seeds.

* I added this post to this week’s Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food 101, Fat Tuesday, and Gluten Free WednesdayMonday Mania.

Asian Sesame Slaw (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Good morning!  How are everyone’s New Year’s resolutions going?  We’re almost a week into the new year and so I hope they’re still going strong!  My resolutions are about the same every year, which should give you an idea of about how successful I am at keeping them.  🙂  I like to think that I’m inching closer to my goals, though.  For example, when I make a resolution to “eat healthy food”, I have an image of myself always choosing broccoli over ice cream and never, ever stuffing myself with pizza to the point that I just want to go lay down.  That image is just not my reality and may not ever be.  But I do think that I’m doing better than last year and believe I can do even better than this year.  Maybe it’s best to just think of resolutions as friendly reminders rather than commandments set in stone.  Just a thought…how do you make your resolutions useful?

Well, because eating healthy food usually involves some vegetables (or LOTS of vegetables), here’s a recipe to help extend those healthy resolutions into another week of 2012.  This Asian Sesame Slaw contains a good deal of cabbage, a lovely cruciferous vegetable that has been found to have anti-cancer properties when eaten raw.  Since different varieties of cabbage contain different cancer-figthing compounds (called glucosinolates) you’ll maximize your health benefits by eating a variety of cabbage types.  This recipe uses red cabbage and savoy cabbage so your bases will be covered.

Eat up for a healthy new year!

Asian Sesame Slaw
serves at least 10
adapted from My New Roots 

Ingredients
– 3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded (I used the slicer blade on my food processor and got the perfect “slaw” consistency)
– 1 cup savoy cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
– about 5 leaves lacinato kale, thinly sliced
– 2 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
– 2 scallions, finely sliced
– 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
– 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
– 2 Tbs olive oil
– 1 Tbs lemon juice
– 2 Tbs rice vinegar
– 1 Tbs honey
– 1/3 cup tahini
– a few pinches of salt, to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, kale, carrots, scallions, parsley, and sesame seeds.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice vinegar, honey, tahini, and salt.

3. Pour dressing over salad and toss.  Alternatively, you can plate the salad and add the dressing afterward.  This will help the leftovers to stay crunchy in the fridge for a few days.

* This post is part of this week’s Whole Foods Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Lunchbox Love, Wellness WeekendFresh Bites Friday, Real Food 101, and Monday Mania.

Spinach Ohitashi and Sushi Night

Near the very beginning of our relationship, Jeremy and I discovered a mutual love for sushi.  And then we discovered a mutual love for good sushi, which usually translates into expensive sushi.  Lately, I’ve been looking for ways to trim our dining-out expenses and sushi seemed like the perfect place to start.  A new shop has opened near our apartment that focuses on sustainable seafood, grass-fed meats, and local eggs and dairy (oh, Portland, I love it when you live up to your stereotypes).  The owner is extremely knowledgeable about all of his products and he carries a good selection of sushi-grade fish along with frozen seaweed salad and octopus salad.  I think that sushi night at home is going to become a tradition.

Please excuse the poor-quality photo.  We had our chopsticks poised and ready to go when I remembered that I wanted to take a quick picture.  🙂

This is also a meal that allows us to cook together.  Our kitchen is so small that there really is no way to get two people in there at once.  With sushi night, I’ve been taking over all the make-ahead meal components and Jeremy has been artfully composing the nigiri once we are ready to eat.  I think I’m going to use some of my winter break to learn more about Japanese cuisine that I can cook at home.  Stay tuned for more on that!

My first venture outside the realm of  sushi rice was when I made Spinach Ohitashi last week.  The recipe was fast and simple and the ingredients were already in my pantry.  Cooking a new type of cuisine can be intimidating and so it felt nice to start small.  The simplicity of this dish made me feel that I could tackle it without any mishaps and the simple, healthy flavors were a wonderful complement to the tasty sushi we enjoyed.

Dan likes sushi night, too.

Spinach Ohitashi
serves 2

Ingredients
– 4 cups spinach, rinsed
– 2 tsp soy sauce
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1.  In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to a boil.  Add all the spinach at once and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes.

2.  Drain spinach and quickly submerge in ice cold water to shock it.  Remove from water and carefully squeeze out excess water.  It may take several minutes of squeezing to get out most of the water.

3.  With a fork or your fingers, separate the spinach a bit so it is not too compact.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil and mix.

4.  Transfer spinach to serving bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

*This recipe is included in Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Freaky Friday at Real Food Freaks, and Fresh Bites Friday and Real Food, Whole Health.