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Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick and Easy for Weeknights!

Don’t you find weeknight cooking is a challenge?  After a long day of work, who (even those of us in the food world!) has the energy to tackle recipes that are time consuming or complicated? For meals that follow hectic days, I turn again and again to my old stand-bys. My “go to” choices often include a short-cut version of New Orleans red beans and rice (a nod to my Southern upbringing); Italian-style sautéed chicken breasts with capers, lemon, and white wine atop pasta; and grilled turkey burgers crowned with blue cheese and red onions garnished with a green salad.

Now I have a new dish to add to this fast and fresh repertoire.
Last week I marinated salmon fillets in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, and then slid them into a very hot oven to roast for about 10 minutes until moist and flaky. While the fish was cooking, I sautéed shiitake mushrooms with garlic, green onions, and baby bok choy, and added  accents of fresh ginger and red pepper flakes all in about 10 minutes. 

I served the vegetables spooned over mounds of white rice and topped them with the fillets. My husband--not a huge fan of salmon--loved this all-in-one entrée. I did too, not only because it looked and tasted so good, but because it had been quick, easy, and healthy—always a winning combo for weeknight cooking.

Roasted Salmon on a Bed of Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms

2 tablespoons soy sauce (Light soy works fine.)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
4 salmon fillets, 6 to 7 ounces each and about 1-inch thick
Kosher salt
4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted, optional (See note.)

Baby Bok Choy and Shiitakes
1/4 cup canola oil plus extra if needed
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1 bunch green onions, roots and all but 2 inches of stems removed, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces baby bok choy, cut crosswise, into 1/2 inch wide strips (See note.)
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups cooked long grain white rice

For salmon, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and oil in a shallow nonreactive dish. Add the salmon, flesh sides down, and marinate, turning once or twice, 1 hour or up to 2 hours.

To roast the salmon, arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with lightly oiled foil, and place salmon, flesh sides up, on the sheet and salt them. Roast until salmon is opaque and flakes easily when pierced with a sharp knife, about 10 minutes. (Roasting time can vary slightly depending on the thickness of the fish.)

While salmon is in the oven, cook the vegetables. Heat the oil until hot in a large, heavy skillet set over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes, using more oil if needed. Add green onions and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute more.  Stir in the bok choy, ginger, red pepper flakes, and stock. Raise heat to medium high, and stir until the bok choy starts to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Salt to taste.

Remove salmon from the oven when done, and cover loosely with foil until ready to serve.

To serve, mound 1/2 cup rice in each of four shallow bowls. Spoon some vegetables over the rice in each bowl, and top each serving with a salmon fillet. If desired, sprinkle each fillet with sesame seeds. Serve warm. Serves 4.

Note: To toast sesame seeds, place them in a small skillet set over medium heat. Stir and cook until they are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove and cool.

Note: Baby bok choy is available in some super markets and in most Asian food stores. It has velvety-tender leaves, and cooks very quickly. If you can’t find it, you can substitute a 14- to 16-ounce head of traditional bok choy. Cut off and discard 1/2 inch of the white base. Then cut the stalks into 1/2 dice and the leaves into 1/2 inch wide strips. Cook until the leaves are wilted and the diced stalks just tender.

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