This past week has been a whirlwind of family, friends and food. I was in Texas for a wedding last weekend and then returned to Boston in time for Passover. From venison sliders to gefilte fish, it was all delicious, but I’m stuffed!
So with the major festive events of the month behind me I was thinking about what to cook that would be delicious (always a requirement) but also healthy and relatively low in calories. Japanese food came to mind – a rice bowl filled with good stuff. This teriyaki salmon rice bowl has healthy Omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon and a good dose of iron & fiber from the spinach. It has the gestalt of sushi but the salmon is cooked, the nori is toasted and sprinkled on top and everything is drizzled with tasty homemade teriyaki sauce.
Japan always ranks high for countries with the best longevity. This has been attributed to the fact that their diet is generally low in fat, with fish being the most common form of protein. The tradition of serving seasonal vegetables with steamed rice, fish and other tasty things from the sea such as nori, has been central to Japanese cuisine for thousands of years.
If you want to make a quick weeknight dinner out of this, make the teriyaki sauce and toast the sesame seeds and nori in advance – you can keep both in airtight containers in the fridge for a week or so. The rice is best made fresh. This is a very adaptable recipe. Eat it hot, cold or at room temp. Try it with different vegetables like sautéed snow peas, sugar snap peas or asparagus (cut on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces). Use tofu or chicken instead of salmon. I’m sure you can think of lots of other variations – let me know if you come up with something really good!
- 1 pound salmon fillet cut into 4 thin portions (skin on is fine)
- Teriyaki Sauce
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- ¾ cup Mirin (rice wine)
- ½ cup sugar (white or brown)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (optional)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger (optional)
- Toasted Sesame and Nori:
- 1 8-inch square sheet of Nori, cut with a scissors into 1-inch strips. Stack the strips and cut crosswise into 1-inch by ¼-inch confetti.
- 2 tablespoons of black or white sesame seeds, or a mixture of both
- Sushi Rice:
- 2 cups sushi rice (short grain rice)
- ⅔ cup homemade seasoned rice vinegar (see ingredients below) or you can buy seasoned rice vinegar in the Asian section of your grocery store.
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Sautéed Spinach:
- 20 ounces fresh spinach, washed
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 bunch scallions, washed, trimmed, and sliced crosswise
- 1 Avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- Make the teriyaki sauce: In a small saucepan bring soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic (if using) and ginger (if using) to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Toasted nori & sesame seeds: Toast nori and sesame seeds in a hot skillet for a minute or two, stirring and tossing constantly just until sesame seeds start to get a little brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Make the sushi rice: Rinse rice several times to remove excess starchy powder: put rice into a large bowl and cover by an inch with water. Swish rice around with your hands. Pour off cloudy water. Repeat 2 or 3 times more. Drain in a fine mesh colander. Cook rice per package directions. (about 2½ cups water per 2 cups rice and a 15 minute simmer, covered) Remove rice from heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, make seasoned rice vinegar: in a small saucepan bring rice vinegar, sugar and salt to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring, until sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside. Transfer rice to a large nonmetallic bowl. Measure out ⅔ cup of seasoned rice vinegar and slowly pour it over the rice, while tossing and mixing it. Cover bowl with a cloth and set aside.
- Cook the spinach: Heat 1 tablespoons sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add spinach and 2 tablespoons water to the pan. Cover pan and leave it for 2 minutes. Uncover and stir. Spinach will be mostly wilted. Cook, stirring for about a minute more until it is completely wilted. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Remove from heat.
- Cook the salmon: Preheat oven to broil and set the rack 8 inches from the top. Place salmon skin-side down on a foil-lined jellyroll pan. Pour ¼ cup of teriyaki sauce into a separate small bowl to use for glazing the salmon. Brush salmon with teriyaki sauce and cook for two minutes under the broiler. Pull salmon out of the oven and brush more teriyaki sauce on top. Return to the oven and cook for 1-3 minutes more, to your desired doneness. Better to undercook it slightly as it will continue to cook a bit even after it's out of the oven. Remove from oven.
- Assemble rice bowls: Put rice and spinach in the bottom of a bowl. Lay salmon on top. (skin will peel off easily, if you prefer it skinless) Garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle with scallions and nori-sesame confetti. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce. Repeat for each bowl.