Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Taste of Asia

Asian food rocks.

Unfortunately, God gave me a very inconvenient allergy to peanuts, nuts and various other goodies such as avocados, all of which are frequent members of the Asian Ingredient Club. Boo! Hiss!

But I will not retreat. I will have and love my Asian food, damn it.

First of all, I can’t image life without sushi. I think it has magic powers. My husband and friends are shocked at the amount of sushi my 5-foot, 2-inch self can consume in one sitting. It’s like crack wrapped up in seaweed on a bed of a rice.

We live about a 40-minute drive from a sushi mecca called Sagami in Collingswood, N.J. It’s won all kinds of awards, and people from Philadelphia actually leave Philadelphia to get sushi there. It’s that good. OMG. They also have the best green tea ice cream ever.

Often, even when you make a reservation your bootie is waiting in the 2-by-2 waiting area or standing outside, again just waiting. But it’s truly worth these conditions and your patience. Just a little tidbit for you: It’s great to go to Sagami for lunch (no wait) or in the summer, when all South Jerseyians and Philadelphians are down the Shore. (My husband is probably going to scold me for giving you one of our dining-out secrets.)

While I love going out to restaurants for various cuisines, I often try to cook it myself. It’s less stressful since I don’t have to play the 100-question game with the server. “Are there nuts in this?” “Are you SURE there are no nuts in this?”

Anyway, I recently whipped up the Barefoot Contessa’s Asian Grilled Salmon (love) and Nigella Lawson’s super delish Soba Noodles with Sesame (really, really love). I also bought fresh ginger for the first time ever and made a ginger salad dressing that I poured over crunchy romaine.

Dinner was very delish.

Here’s the salmon recipe. I cut the recipe in half. There’s no way me and my husband are eating three pounds of salmon for dinner. The salmon I bought weighed about 1.2 pounds. We had four filets. One was left over for lunch the next day. Also, I cooked this on a grill pan on my stove. The husband needs to buy a new grill, but I have a sneaky suspicion that our funding for that has gone the way of Phillies playoff tickets, so grill pan it is.

As a side note, the soba noodles I use are from Sur la Table. They are made of awesome. The second-to-last time I stopped by Sur la Table in Marlton they were (gasp) sold out. I went back last week and bought two packages. They are $4 a pop; but they are really, really good. If you are fortunate enough to have an Asian grocery store in your neck of the woods, I’m sure you can find much more affordable noodles. I also bought my sesame oil from Sur la Table. All other Asian-type ingredients used in these recipes are from my local SuperFresh. Sesame seeds, rice vinegar and soy sauce really aren’t tough to find, even in my hometown of Italians and meatballs and hoagies and not much else.

Below are the salad and noodle recipes. The salmon, as I noted above is available on the Food Network Web site.

Romaine with ginger dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. honey
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. to 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, depending on taste
Black pepper, to taste
Romaine hearts, washed and chopped

Combine all the ingredients except for romaine in a bowl. Whisk together.

Pour over romaine and serve.

Note: Makes enough dressing for a salad for two.

Soba Noodles with Sesame Seeds
From “Forever Summer,” by Nigella Lawson (my idol). Great cookbook, by the way.

1/3 cup sesame seeds
Salt (if noodle package says they can be cooked without salt, you can omit this. I did not use salt)
8 ounces soba noodles
2 tsp. rice vinegar
5 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sesame oil
5 scallions, cleaned and sliced

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles. When finished, Nigella says to put the noodles in a bowl full of ice water. I just run really cold water over the noodles as they drain in a colander. (Less stuff to wash.)

In your serving bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, honey and oil. Toss your noodles and scallions with the sauce. Add sesame seeds. Toss again.

Let the dish sit for a half-hour or so (if you can contain yourself.)


  1. That sounds uber-delish. I might just have to try this one sometime! Marco will eat absolutely no noodles... except Asian noodles! I don't know why.

  2. This recipe makes me happy: (minus one glaring change you will have to make). So now I have to try yours!

    Also, I have you bookmarked here at work, so blog more! :)