Welcome back to school. Sadly, summer has rushed by and those of us with kids are back to school year schedules. No despair here! Let’s celebrate the new season with noodles! Cookbook author Dennis Prescott says in his chapter on noodles that, “Noodles are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Maybe he’s on to something.
When schedules change and life gets a bit chaotic, easy really matters. Meals that offer big flavor and healthy nutrition – made quickly with little mess – are what I look for. It’s easy to offer non-processed ,whole food choices while still keeping it simple.
For this week’s post we’re bringing back our 4PM Panic series to offer delicious healthy options for the return to busy school schedules.
Today I’m making two sauces and a seasoning you can keep on-hand that will add flavor to many things. Once made, they can add big flavor to the simplest meal.
I’m making a seasoning that I’ve recently learned about called Furikake. I’m Furikake obsessed. Wait … what in the world is Furikake??? It is a Japanese seasoning that you can purchase ready-made but, typically, ready-made versions have MSG in them. If you are okay with MSG, then go get some! I personally can’t handle the effect MSG has on my body, so my easily homemade version is free of MSG.
Furikake is typically made with dried seaweed or nori sheets – the stuff they use to roll sushi, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Some Furikake recipes call for katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes), which I find to be a bit too fishy tasting. You can find many variations of it; some spicy, some fishy, some flaky and some ground more fine. The recipe I use is one we like best but feel free to experiment with variations. It is great to have on hand to sprinkle on fish, chicken, rice, noodles and vegetables.
I am making a simple salmon noodle bowl that will take no more time to make than a frozen pizza. With the sauces and seasonings on hand, it’s as easy as baking the salmon and serving it with boiled pasta and a super easy steamed vegetable (see *veggie* note below). Today I served it with simple steamed asparagus but you can add your veggies of choice.
Salmon and Sesame Noodles
- 4 (6oz) Salmon filets
- 1 Tbs honey
- 12 oz udon noodles (you can substitute with rice noodles or even spaghetti)
- 2 scallions, sliced
- fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving
- Marinade (recipe below)
- Sesame sauce (recipe below)
- Furikake for seasoning (recipe below)
- Make the salmon and noodles.
- Place the salmon filets in a casserole dish and cover with the marinade. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for thirty minutes. Or make a day ahead and marinate for 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the salmon skin side down on the parchment.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until the salmon can easily flake with a fork. When there is about 5 minutes remaining, drizzle the honey over the salmon. The honey will coat and caramelize, yum!
- Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your noodles according to the package.
- Toss noodles with Sesame Sauce (don’t over sauce, a little goes a long way, you can always add more.) Add scallions.
- Portion noodles into four serving bowls top with salmon and asparagus (or your choice of vegetables)
Marinade for Salmon
I always double or triple this recipe so I can have it on hand for dumplings, vegies, rice etc.
- 2Tbs white miso paste
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs sriracha
- 1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 Tbs pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients except the cornstarch. In a small bowl or jar whisk or shake the cornstarch with 2 Tbs of water until dissolved, then whisk into the marinade.
Sesame Sauce for Noodles
I also double or triple this recipe to keep on hand. I love it on rice. I really like this sauce but if you are trying to cut time you can reserve half of the marinade and use that on the noodles instead of making a separate sauce. Don’t you love options!?
- 1/3 cup Tamari
- 3 Tbs mirin
- 3 Tbs toasted sesame oil
Whisk all ingredients together.
Try it on avocado toast or anything that needs a little zing.
- 2 toasted nori sheets
- 2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tsp. coconut sugar
- 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- a pinch of salt
Crumple the nori sheets into a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. pulse a few times until all ingredients are broken and incorporated. It can be roughly chopped or finely ground. I like it somewhere in the middle. Store in an air tight container at room temperature for a week.
How do you make asparagus? I never liked asparagus until in my 30’s, when I had it grilled at a friend’s house. Then I had asparagus boiled at my sister’s house. Slightly under-cooked – blanched, really – hit with cold water to stop the cooking process. This was delicious but seemed to be a lot of fuss. I’ve recently learned a new process that is so easy and really turns out perfect every time.
- Trim the bottoms of the asparagus to eliminate the tough ends.
- Pull approximately 6 paper towels off the roll as one. Fold it in half so you have a double layer of three towels long.
- Dampen the towels with water. squeeze out excess water.
- Lay the towels flat and lay the asparagus on the towel as pictured. Roll it up.
- Place roll into the microwave and cook for three minutes.
- Unroll the towel. Depending on the power of your microwave you should have perfectly steamed asparagus.
- Re-roll and cook a bit longer if asparagus is not cooked enough.
- Serve with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
This is my new favorite way to cook asparagus. Give it a try!