Another quick post to break up the vacation ones. Right before we left, I cooked dinner for our friend SK who had generously offered to house-sit while we were gone. It was a Monday, I was driving home from work, giddy about my impending vacation and equally happy to be paying a visit to McCall's to pick up whatever lovelies they had on special that day.....until (insert record scratch sound here)...I pulled up and saw the "CLOSED" sign staring angrily at me. Doh! In my pre-vacation haze I'd forgotten that McCall's wasn't open Mondays. *Sigh*
I jumped back in the car and headed over to Fish King, and once in the store I stood there for literally 20 minutes with some sort of cook's block, not being able to think of a SINGLE thing to make for dinner. You know when you just feel paralyzed when standing in front of too many options? It certainly wasn't Fish King's fault for offering up multiple varieties of fresh fish, shellfish and poultry....I just couldn't decide. I loitered for so long the staff started to look concerned, so I finally decided on some salmon and headed home, still wondering what to create.
Setting the salmon aside for a moment, I made some appetizers- I'd never made these before but was thinking recently of the many nights spent in izakayas (Japanese pubs) while living in Tokyo. One of my favorite things to order was pari pari cheezu which, loosely translated, means crunchy or crispy cheese. Basically it would be some type of white cheese wrapped in wonton skins and deep fried- sometimes with the addition of kimchee or edamame. I happened to have some shelled edamame in the freezer so I added those to the jack cheese in my version, which I sprinkled with black sesame seeds and sea salt and served with some leftover mustard sauce I had from my mongolian bbq lamb chops.
Luckily some inspiration struck when I saw a jar of peanut butter in the pantry, and the rest was all gravy. I decided to smear a simple mixture of white miso, agave nectar and mirin onto the salmon to broil, then made a dressing of some smooth peanut butter, sambal oelek, grated ginger, chopped garlic, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, agave nectar, green onions, cilantro and some water to thin it out. I just whizzed it all with my beloved Cuisinart hand blender (seriously, if you don't have one, go get one!) and tossed it with hot, whole wheat spaghetti and some julienned carrots and cucumbers. It made a nice bed for the broiled miso salmon, and, garnished with some quickly blanched sugar snap peas- made a nice, balanced one-dish meal.
While in the pantry I also discovered a package of Japanese macha pudding mix that my mom had brought back from Japan. I had some of my favorite Pearl Soy Milk on hand so I mixed that with the powder, poured into ramekins and let it set up while we ate dinner.
I'd post a recipe for the noodles but all of the ingredients are listed above, and it's really all about what you're looking for- do you want them to be more peanuty? Add more peanut butter, less sesame oil (which is very strong). If you love ginger put more of that in and skip the garlic, etc etc. It's a very flexible dressing and fantastic on cold, shredded chicken (add some Sriracha for some extra kick) or even a pile of shredded romaine.