Over the past five years, “bowls” have become a happily standard feature on American restaurant menus. Most feature some sort of grain (rice, quinoa, grits, barley), a well-seasoned protein, mixes of fresh and cooked vegetables, perky and tasty garnishes, and, of course, a stand out, distinctive sauce. While nearly anything goes into a bowl these days — including traditional Mediterranean or Mexican ingredients — I often find myself leaning toward the Asian-inspired varieties and am happiest if the cooks are fairly heavy-handed with the soy sauce, please.
What’s the satisfying pull here? While we all adore the mix of flavors in bowls, there’s something eminently contenting about a meal all in one dish eaten with a single utensil– reminiscent of a toddler dinner, maybe. It also plays the TEXTURE card, which is one of the top values involved in cooking. Here, we have not only a favorite texture to tout, but a combination of textures that pushes many a happiness button. Tender, creamy, chewy, crunchy, smooth….it goes on, doesn’t it? Then there is the balance of flavors if the thing is put together properly and, if it’s not, the spicy sauce often manages to make you feel as if it were. Yep, a good sauce is critical and can solve a shortcoming or two — or three. Overdone chicken? Drizzle just a little more over all of it. Unseasoned vegetables or rice? Same drill. Dull greens? Well, there you have me. I like fresh and crispy or tenderly sautéed–one way or another.
I made several Teriyaki Salmon Bowls over the last week to get it all right and my husband Dave continues to ask if I’m making it again. I am; I did it today–one more time. The first attempt dirtied just about every pan (including a grill pan) and spoon in the kitchen and I knew you’d want something a bit easier — I did, too. The next version was hurried and I missed the essential step of drizzling the teriyaki sauce over the salmon after it had been turned in the pan–hello? it’s crucial. For a couple of days I thought it all over before beginning again. What would make it faster, but no-less desirable? How could I cut down on the dishes? Who wants to wash all those pans? “Not I,” said the cat of “Little Red Hen” fame.
According to Kikkoman, world-wide producer of soy sauce and related condiments, the syrupy sweet teriyaki we know and love originated in Hawaii, when Japanese newcomers mixed local ingredients such as pineapple juice and brown sugar with soy sauce and used it as a marinade.–Melissa Kaman, EAST BAY TIMES–August 25, 2004
I finally settled on a method that might use only two pans if the cook made the easy and popular microwaved rice or other grains. (If you think you’ll eat it, make a pot of rice and use the rest the next day. Read here about the care you must take with leftover rice in order to avoid illness.)
Two pans can go in the dishwasher; three is getting up there. A watchful cook can sauté the vegetables in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan until nearly done, push them to the side, and cook the salmon in the same pan.
I eliminated a couple of ingredients for the Teriyaki Sauce and found it just as good. As I simplified the process, I found the end result tastier and more satisfying. About the time involved…. While I don’t mind cooking all the livelong day, I know time is of the essence for most people, as is number of ingredients, quantity of vegetables to buy and chop, and number of dishes used. Hence the nearly limitless popularity of the “one-pot meal.”
Your favorite ingredients — including the vegetables — are all easily included in this recipe. Also–why not think crunchy additions like toasted nuts, chopped pretzels, fried wonton strips, or tortilla chips? Skip the cooked cabbage and add sliced fresh spinach or kale. No salmon? Toss in a bunch of shrimp or, even easier, add already-cooked shrimp at the end. Sliced pork tenderloin will cook just as quickly as the fish and you could definitely use a cooked boneless chicken thigh or two from your fridge if you’re really rushed. Do as you please, make it your own, but keep the textures varied and don’t skip the grains (you need them for heart health) . Definitely make my fast Teriyaki Sauce. Make a double batch and you’ll be able to serve up a different bowl later in the week. Do make sure every element is seasoned separately as it cooks or you’ll be disappointed in the overall taste. Even the rice must have a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. ( I grew up eating white rice with salt, pepper, and butter; I know whereof I speak.) However you do it, just try this:
fast teriyaki salmon bowl
- Easy Teriyaki Sauce–recipe below
- 1 ½ cups cooked rice—white or brown, seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous pinch each: salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil–more as needed
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets–blanched* in microwave or in a saucepan
- 2 cups shredded cabbage or packaged coleslaw mix
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper
- 2 plump cloves garlic–sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger – or more to taste
- 2 4- ounce salmon fillets–oiled, salted and peppered on both sides
- 1 cup sliced English cucumber
- ½ red bell pepper–sliced (can sub tomatoes or avocados, etc.)
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced – optional
- Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro, and/or sesame seeds for garnish
- MAKE TERIYAKI SAUCE AND RICE: set aside covered to keep warm until needed.
- COOK VEGETABLES: Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes; add 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil and heat until shimmering. Add a single layer of mushrooms and sauté until golden brown on both sides. Push to the side of the pan and stir in the cabbage or slaw mix, adding a drizzle more oil as needed. Cook a minute or two or until just wilted and add garlic and ginger; stir well. Add blanched broccoli. Season all of the vegetables well with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Push vegetables to one side and stir them regularly as salmon cooks to prevent burning. (Remove to a bowl if needed.)
- SAUTÉ SALMON IN SAME PAN. Lay the oiled and seasoned salmon fillets skin side up on the empty side of the pan and cook about 3 minutes. Turn, drizzle with a tablespoon of Teriyaki sauce each, and cook another 2 minutes or until just firm or 125-130 degrees F. (Temperature will rise as the salmon rests. FDA temperature for fish is 145 degrees F, but your salmon will be quite overdone if you cook to that temperature.)
- CHOP FRESH VEGETABLES (cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, plus garnish scallions) while the salmon cooks if you haven’t already done it.
- PLATE AND SERVE HOT OR WARM: Scoop ¾ cup rice into a bowl and spoon half the cooked vegetables alongside. Add a salmon fillet (remove skin if desired) and arrange some of the fresh vegetables to the other side or at top. Garnish with sliced scallions, fresh cilantro and/or sesame seeds. Drizzle a little Teriyaki Sauce over everything. Sprinkle entire bowl with salt and pepper. Repeat with the second bowl. Pass the remainder of the sauce at the table.
THINGS TO READ:
FINE COOKING: THE Anatomy of a Grain Bowl
IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE MY:
It’s a balmy January day in Colorado; we get quite of few of them. I’m hoping winter returns soon! Thanks for reading and happy, healthy cooking.