This, however? This was a HUGE mistake. Pro tip kids: Do not eat salmon you got on sale raw on the second day after you unwrap it. It ends with you throwing up in a Loop restaurant on the way home. Writing the recipe down because maybe I’ll overcome my aversion to it down the road. 

Marinated Salmon Sashimi Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb salmon (seriously, make sure it’s sashimi grade or it will end poorly), sliced into thin strips
  • 1 T miso
  • 1 T mirin
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • pinch shichimi
  • dash lemon juice

Whisk together all of your ingredients except for the lemon juice, pour it over your sliced salmon and toss, and top with a bit of lemon juice. 

Looking for a quick, delicious dinner? Try this!  The flank steak was on sale, so it was cheaper than it would’ve been normally, but everything else you should have in your pantry. 

Asian Steak Bites
Lasts 2 lunches

Ingredients

  • 1.75 lbs flank steak
  • .25 c soy sauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T chili paste (I used sambal oelek) 
  • 2 T olive oil

Slice your flank steak into strips, and then into bite size pieces. Place the pieces in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and chili paste, and pour over the beef, stirring to mix well. Let the beef sit in the marinade for twenty minutes to a half hour.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, and then add the beef, cooking on all sides until browned (about 5 minutes total). Enjoy!

Looking for a quick, neat breakfast for the week? I recommend ojiya. It’s in the same family as the congee from a few weeks ago, but has a Japanese spin on it. Plus, it’s simple, quick, and filling, and a good way to start out your morning.

Ojiya
Lasts 3 breakfasts

Ingredients

  • dashi (see recipe here)
  • 1 c rice
  • crumbled nori, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to taste

Make your dashi per the instructions above, and once it’s finished simmering, add in your rice and simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring constantly so that rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. The dashi should be completely absorbed by the end of that fifteen minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and nori, and then enjoy!

Note: this recipe can also be made with leftover stock from nabe (hot pot) cooking, and it’s also recommended that you stir in a raw egg at the end, and add torn umeboshi. I will be sure to test these out!

Some nights you just need a quick, simple soup to throw on the stove, simmer, and then dig into. This definitely fits the bill. This has seven ingredients (six if you exclude one), and is done in fifteen minutes’ time. No dicing, no chopping, just pour it all in a pot, boil, simmer, and boom. Done. 

Additional ingredient notes: You can use homemade pumpkin puree if you like, but honestly, it’s easier and cheaper and saner just to find some cans at the store. The original recipe suggests adding peanut butter, and I added a cappuccino peanut butter that I think really added to the soup.

Thai Pumpkin Soup
Lasts 6 meals as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 T red curry paste
  • 2 c chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock to make vegetarian)
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 15 oz (or 1 32 oz) cans pumpkin puree
  • 2 T soy sauce (can also use fish sauce)
  • 2 T lime juice 
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • .25 c peanut butter (optional)

Heat a pot over medium heat, take your red curry paste, and stir till fragrant (about a minute). Then, add all the rest of your ingredients, whisk together, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes.

And then, behold!  You have your soup!  Quick, simple, and no hassle.

I tried to make this a few years ago, either just before or right around the advent of this blog. It didn’t turn out so well, because I a) didn’t have a clue what I was doing with the pumpkin, b) was still figuring out my way around the kitchen, and c) this was an earlier recipe from Brokeass Gourmet, which wasn’t always fantastic on the directions in the early days.

Now, though? I know how to peel and dice a pumpkin properly, which is honestly the big part of the effort in this recipe. The pumpkin I got originally gave me about 10 cups worth of diced pumpkin (from about five pounds of pumpkin), which is definitely more than enough for this and another recipe I’ll be using it in soon.  And the rest came together with ingredients from a beef brussel sprouts stir fry from the Plated trial I mentioned in the last post, and with stuff I already had in my pantry. Honestly, the only thing you should need to buy for this should be the pumpkin, the ginger, the beef, the coconut milk, and maybe the peppers.

The result is an amazing fall curry that I can’t wait to make again. Plus, it’s cheap!

Thai Pumpkin Beef Curry
Lasts 5 to 6 lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 6 c peeled and cubed fresh pumpkin
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (adjustable to taste)
  • 1 1" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I used a shallot from the Plated trial)
  • .5 lb beef stew meat (I increased it to 2 lbs because I remember it not being that much, I had an additional flatiron steak from the Plated trial that I cut up and added, and I like beef besides)
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 t Thai red curry paste (I ended up increasing this to 1 T)
  • 1 T soy sauce (was probably closer to 2 T for me)
  • 2 t honey (accidentally used 2 T, whoops)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" pieces
  • jalapeño, seeded and chopped

Preheat your oven to 375, take your pumpkin pieces and lay them out on a foil lined baking sheet, and roast them for 45 minutes, until the pumpkin is fork tender.

Twenty five minutes into the pumpkin roasting, heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add your garlic, ginger, and onion, and cook for two minutes, stirring once or twice. Then, add your beef and brown lightly on all sides. 

Add in your coconut milk, curry paste, soy sauce, and honey, and stir well. You should have a red-brownish creamy sauce (mine tended a bit more towards brown). Add in your bell pepper and jalapeño, stir well, and then cover. Cook for the remaining 15 minutes or so that the pumpkin will roast, stirring here and there, as otherwise the honey will stick to the bottom of the pot. 

Once the pumpkin is done roasting, add it directly to the pot. Give the pot another good stir and then cover again, cooking for another fifteen minutes, until the beef is very, very tender.

And then, enjoy your fantastic curry!

As my tomatoes are finally ripening on the vine and getting ready for harvest, I’m starting to find a lot of uses for the tomatoes I’ve been able to bring to full maturity (I lost at least half my plant due to the storms we encountered back in June). In addition, the less I have to heat stuff up when eating it, the better. So, this recipe from the Japanese Soul Cooking cookbook for cold udon noodles with tomatoes was pretty much exactly what I needed.

To bring out the tomato flavors even more, I ended up deciding to roast my tomatoes for about two hours; this, combined with the soy sauce in the recipe, made it even more delicious. Again, you can make your own udon noodles if you have at least a day or so to devote to it, or you can get the Shirayuki Jumbo Udon Noodles like I did, and only have to boil them for three minutes to get them ready.

Cold Udon with Roasted Tomatoes
Lasts six lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large tomatoes (I used 5 medium)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • soy sauce
  • 3 servings udon noodles (one pack of the Shirayuki noodles I mentioned above)

Take your tomatoes and quarter them, and then half those quarters. Put them in a baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. Heat your oven to 300 (275 if it runs hot), and roast your tomatoes for two hours.

About a half hour from the tomatoes being done, put on about four cups of water into a pot, and bring it to a boil. (The instructions only recommended one cup per noodle serving, but I skewed slightly higher to ensure that there was enough water). Once boiling, add your noodles, and stir with a chopstick as they break apart, keeping all the noodles separate. Boil for three minutes, then remove to your colander.  Once ready, strain them in a colander, and then put the colander in a large bowl, and run cold water over them, filling the bowl (and the colander), and stir your noodles, as seen in picture 5. This helps them cool down and not get overcooked or mushy. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Once your tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool at least ten minutes. Once cooled, add in soy sauce to taste. The original recipe also recommends shiso, but I didn’t have any on hand (might grow it in the garden next year). 

Then, combine your tomatoes and noodles, ensuring that the noodles are fully coated, and either eat immediately, or chill further in the fridge. Either way, enjoy your minimal fuss meal!

Zaru soba was one of the meals I ate pretty consistently back when I went abroad to study in Japan almost four years ago now.  Why? It was typically very cheap (400 yen for a serving at a noodle shop, which is about $4), it was filling, and it allowed me to stay cool (as it was incredibly hot out, I was there during August – December).  Plus, you were encouraged to slurp at your noodles, which was very fun, especially with the dipping sauce.

The recipe I’m using for this comes from the cookbook Japanese Soul Cookng, and overall, it’s incredibly thorough. You can make your own soba noodles if you choose, but honestly, it’s saner if you go with premade, unless you have at minimum a whole day to devote to the process of making the noodles.  Cooking the soba itself is very easy; the dipping sauce is honestly the only part where it gets real interesting, and even then, it’s not that difficult. Perfect meal for a hot summer day.

Zaru Soba
Lasts appx 6 lunches as a main course

Ingredients

  • one package soba (usually contains 3 servings)
  • one serving dashi  (use the recipe and instructions in the attached link)
  • .5 c soy sauce
  • .125 (or 1/8) c mirin
  • 2 t sugar
  • 2 T mirin
  • nori, sliced thin (I didn’t have this on hand, but will be adding it)

To cook your soba, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add your package of soba (be sure to remove the little plastic bundling the noodles together). Swirl the noodles with chopsticks as seen in picture one to separate the noodles, and keep them so as they cook.  Cook for approximately 4 minutes (or check your package’s instructions, but odds are they’ll be similar). You’ll know when your noodles are done when you taste them and they’re cooked through (do so after running them after cold water). Once ready, strain them in a colander, and then put the colander in a large bowl, and run cold water over them, filling the bowl (and the colander), and stir your noodles, as seen in picture 2. This helps them cool down and not get overcooked or mushy. Cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then, drain and put into a container, to use whenever you may want.

To make kaeshi, the soba dipping sauce flavoring base, combine the .5 c soy sauce, 1/8th cup mirin, and 2 t sugar in a pot, and bring them to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your dashi and mirin to your kaeshi, and bring back to a boil to make the dipping sauce.  Once boiling, remove from heat and allow to come down to room temperature. Then, put in a smaller container and in the fridge for at minimum one hour, to allow the flavors to combine. The longer you let the dipping sauce sit in the fridge, the more the flavors will come out.

To eat, add the nori to the noodles, and then use your chopsticks to dip into the dipping sauce, as demonstrated by me and my Darth Maul chopsticks in the final picture!  Why yes, I am a massive dork. Be sure to have a paper towel on hand, though, it can get messy.