Mmm… those aren’t burnt bits, I assure you. Just extra deliciousness… (Seriously, they’re not burned… it’s this silly story about how I went to buy soy sauce and well, my mom bought me a bottle last time and said, “This is the good stuff to use,” and when I went to the store on Sunday, I bought what I thought I remembered her getting me: premium dark soy sauce. Turns out she’d gotten me premium soy sauce; the dark stuff is super dark.)
Mmm… even more delicious is the side that goes with it. No. Wait. They’re both super delicious. I can’t decide which one is better.
The story here is that, if you haven’t already heard, I’m going mostly-meatless for most-of-Lent. I’m not religious and the two aren’t very related at all, just the time frames overlap (Lent is February 25th through April 12th; I’ll be going meatless from February 28th [that’s tomorrow] through April 9th), so it seems like a lot of people are assuming the two are related. They really aren’t.
It’s just a challenge I’m posing to myself. As anyone who eats with me or reads my food blog or talks about food with me, I am a huge meat eater. I eat meat. It’s part of who I am, and I simply don’t feel full if I don’t have meat in my meal. I like to have a meat, a veg and a starch in most meals, although I’ve been able to curb the starch portion sharply in recent years for a number of reasons… but meat has always been there for me.
On the other hand, I did grow up eating a lot of vegetables – I love vegetables cooked properly, or not cooked at all – but have fallen very far from that area in my life. When I first moved away from my mother, I found I had a lot of trouble keeping fresh vegetables. When I moved again, I had a bit of better luck (long story involving why I had trouble with that at the other place), but living with a veggie-phobe or veggie-hater really strained my desire to buy and keep fresh vegetables. And now, living by myself, I’m half and half – it can be hard to eat all of any given vegetable before it goes bad, but I’m trying because I really do love eating fresh veggies, and I think I’m doing alright.
To encourage the latter and curb the former, I’m going to go completely meatless (NOT to be confused with vegetarian!) for this time period. I will allow myself to eat fish, but meat – chicken, beef, pork, duck, etc. – is not allowed. Dishes made with animal products and/or fats are allowable as well, just no bits of animal parts. It’s not vegetarianism by any means. I expect my restaurant-dining to drop down to near-nil.
And so, to that end, I’m easing myself into things this week, with a very healthy, delicious and vegetarian side dish, along with a nice piece of fish. (I’ve also slacked on eating fish since I moved away from my mother, but am working to fix that, clearly.)
Ready? Ok, go!
Starting with this yummy side dish…
soba noodles, cooked al dente (the instructions on these say 5 minutes in boiling water, but I pulled them at 3 and probably could have done with 2 minutes, as they were a touch too close to mushy for my tastes) – I used two of the above bundles
raw sugar snap peas (cleaned)
raw shredded Napa cabbage, I had 5 small leaves there
raw bean sprouts
raw red bell peppers (two long, skinny ones that I julienned)
lightly steamed enoki mushrooms with a dash of salt
Use any combination of crunchy, fun yummy veggies that you like, seriously. This is what was on hand for me. And to be honest, I might leave out the mushrooms next time – surprisingly, they added a very meaty taste to the noodles that I didn’t find as appetizing as I’d have liked.
For the vinaigrette, I took:
rice wine vinegar
premium dark soy sauce
mirin (rice wine)
juice of a lemon or two
Whisk together in the bottom of a large bowl.
Toss with everything. Chill and serve cold… enjoy! So delicious and super healthy – buckwheat noodles are pretty healthy, and all those veggies really round it out so you aren’t eating that many noodles. Yummy!
As for the salmon, well, the soy sauce – as I mentioned, I accidentally bought the dark one, but it tasted pretty darn good. I bought a 2lb. piece of salmon filet, and cut that into 5 pieces. In a gallon ziploc bag I mixed:
premium dark soy sauce
brown sugar, about equal to the soy sauce
Then I put the 5 pieces of fish in there, tossed it around, and let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. The fish turned really dark, but it tasted delicious, so who cares?
Popped it into a baking sheet lined with tin foil and baked it at 350 for 20-25 minutes (depending on how thick your fish is). The sauce thickens nicely in the bottom of the pan, so reserve that for drizzling over rice if you serve it with rice instead of the salad. So freaking good!!!
And yes, you could call this teriyaki if you like, the taste is very similar.
Mmm… enjoy & happy eating!!!