When it feels like I haven’t cooked anything new in ages, I start to feel the pressure to pull out all the stops and whip up something amazing. Maybe it’s something that’s been on my bucket list for a while, or the latest thing I’ve seen on Instagram, or something seasonally fabulous.
(It’s spring people and do you know what that means? It means asparagus! It means artichokes! It means leeks, and rhubarb, and rutabaga!)*
All this pressure to cook THE meal makes me stop wanting to cook ANY meal and then I order bibimbap from Seamless and it comes disassembled with shamefully cold, uncrispy rice and I have to throw it into my wok and cook it angrily until it resembles the bibimbap I was hoping to get in the first place.
There’s been added pressure lately because my mother gave me a cast iron skillet so now I’ve been ransacking the internet for “spring meals that you cook in a cast iron skillet” and in the process I found out that you have to season your skillet before using it. It all started to seem too intimidating, hence, angry bibimbap.
All of this is unnecessary buildup to say that at the end of the day, if you don’t know what to cook for dinner, as yourself this revolutionary question: “What am I in the mood to eat?”
Your self will answer that you’re craving pan fried salmon marinaded in the perfect salmon marinade, with cold sesame noodles. And you will whip up that exact meal and be very glad you did.
Perfect Salmon Marinade
(adapted from food.com’s The Best Salmon Marinade)
I find these quantities work for anywhere from 2-4 salmon filets
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Whisk together all ingredients.
Place salmon filets and marinade in a ziplock bag, and refrigerate for up to an hour (any more than an hour and the salt in the soy sauce will start to cure the salmon).
Grill/bake/pan fry the salmon as desired.
(adapted from The New York Time’s Take-out Style Sesame Noodles)
1 package udon rice noodles (I used Eden’s 8.8 ounce package of brown rice udon noodles, you can also use Chinese egg noodles, ramen noodles, soba noodles, or heck, even Italian spaghetti if you have to)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (I used tahini here, apparently the difference is that Chinese sesame paste involves toasted sesame seeds, but I use toasted sesame oil so I think it works)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced**
1/2 cup julienned or grated carrots (I used Trader Joe’s shredded carrots)
1 red bell pepper, julienned or thinly sliced
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes; they should still be a bit chewy. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar and garlic.
Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss–it’s easiest with your hands. Mix in the vegetables, and serve.
*I did not know what rutabaga was when I wrote that sentence. Now I do. Rutabaga is a root vegetable rather like a turnip.
**I actually kind of hate radishes, but they’re pretty and if you slice them thinly enough you get mostly crunch and very little radishy flavor.
The Best Salmon Marinade: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-salmon-marinade-286303
Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9558-takeout-style-sesame-noodles