Soy-Garlic Salmon with Japanese Marinated Cucumbers
Maybe it’s the post-holiday sugar coma and craving for lightness, maybe it’s my enduring love of chopsticks, but I’ve been really into Japanese food lately. Well, Japanese-inspired, if we’re being honest, cause I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t do this to their fish. And there’s been a healthy amount of chile sauces on my tofu, which are Chinese. So basically I’m a fancy fusionist is what I’m saying. Look out, world.
This is my go-to recipe for salmon. I’ve been making it since I was 13, when I ate it at my Filipino best friend’s house and forced her mother to teach me. She didn’t use exact measurements, so neither do I, so these are approximations. Don’t be scared — just go by taste.
The salmon itself may be only vaguely Japanese-inspired, but the marinated cucumbers are more legit. They’re really light and refreshing, what I would call tangy-sweet, and really easy, because what I mean by “marinated” is “thrown together in a bowl and let it sit while you make you everything else, or forget until the last minute and just let it hang out for five minutes”. If you’re really enterprising, you can also keep them in a jar overnight.
Finally, the toasted sesame seeds sound like an annoying extra step, but it takes no more than 1 minute, literally. It really gives them that final depth of flavor that rounds everything out. So don’t skip it. If I can be un-lazy enough to do it, so can you.
SOY-GARLIC SALMON AND JAPANESE MARINATED CUCUMBERS
Ingredients (Salmon) :
1 salmon filet, preferably skin-on, about 2 lbs.
~2 tbl. low-sodium soy sauce
~2 tsp. olive or sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
Ingredients (Cucumbers) :
1 regular cucumber, or 2-3 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
2 tbl. rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. cane sugar
pinch sea salt
1 tbl. sesame seeds
Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the fish skin side-down on the foil.
In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, and crushed garlic. Adjust to taste. Spread on the salmon, and place in the oven. Bake 25 minutes, checking it and rotating halfway through.
While the salmon cooks, prepare the cucumbers. To toast the sesame seeds, set a skillet over medium heat and put some sesame seeds in it. No oil, just the seeds. Heat for about 1 minute, occasionally sliding the pan around to move the seeds, until they’re lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. (See, wasn’t that simple?)
Whisk together rice vinegar, sugar salt, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Peel cucumbers and discard the skins. Use the vegetable peeler to continue peeling the cucumber into thin strips, going around until you get to the seeds, which you can eat or discard. Pat the strips slightly dry and place in the marinade.
Serve salmon and cucumbers over brown rice and get out your fanciest chopsticks.