Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Solo Birthday Meal

This year on my birthday, I was alone for dinner. Before you think I’m complaining, I must say, I was really tired from a crazy weekend, so the solo time was actually appreciated. Plus I’d had a totally indulgent Belgian waffle and a side of sausage-cheese grits. (Yes, that’s right. And it was amazing.)

However, it was my birthday, so I did want to treat myself to something delicious for dinner. I chose some beautiful salmon from Whole Foods, a bundle of soba noodles, a package of nori, some veggies, and a bottle of Asian-style dressing. (I was feeling indulgent, but also too lazy to make my own dressing.) The salmon seared quickly, the veggies didn’t require much besides a little bit of chopping, and the noodles cooked in a lightning-fast dunk in boiling water—this is my kind of fast, easy, but totally delicious birthday dinner. I call it a sushi bowl because all the sushi flavors are represented. You could definitely substitute sticky white rice for the noodles for an even more sushi-like concoction.

Sushi Bowls with Soba Noodles

serves 1 birthday girl with leftovers for lunch (though it would easily double)

This was great the night of, and actually even better the following day, cold. You could make this ahead, chill it, and serve it cold for an easy, satisfying summer dinner when it’s just too hot to cook.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 (8- to 10-ounce) salmon fillet (make sure you ask for the thickest piece available)
Pinch of salt
6 ounces soba noodles
3 to 4 tablespoons store-bought Asian soy ginger sauce*
1/2 cucumber, peeled, and chopped into matchstick pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled, and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 green onions, cut thinly on the bias
3 sheets nori (look for it in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 to 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Rinse and pat dry salmon fillet, and sprinkle with salt. When oil is very hot and shimmering, carefully place salmon in pan. Sear for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn and continue cooking until salmon is just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.**

Meanwhile, add soba noodles to a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water, stir gently, and cook for 4 minutes, or until al dente. Drain noodles, and rinse well with lukewarm water.***

In a small dry skillet, toast nori sheets until they are warm and crisp to the touch, about 2 minutes.

In a wide serving bowl, toss together the cooked noodles and the dressing, to taste. Toss in the veggies, then top with the salmon. Crumble the toasted nori on top, sprinkle on sesame seeds, and drizzle with additional dressing, if desired.

*I used 365 Organic Soy Ginger Sauce
**I like my salmon on the just-barely-cooked side. If you like yours more done, cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, but don’t let it go too long or it will be dry.
***Rinsing the noodles is very important; otherwise they will stick together and lose their delicious texture.

No comments: