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Last night, I put together a simple dinner of three dishes cooked with different techniques but with similar flavors to create a coherent meal. I thought the flavors combined nicely to compose an autumnal, Asian-inspired menu. None of these dishes requires a full recipe, just knowledge of the appropriate technique. This is my favorite type of menu: simple, improvisational, complete and satisfying.
It started with a trip through the grocery store, picking out what looked delicious and fresh with no real destination recipe in mind: salmon fillets, butternut squash, bok choy. Once home and looking over my purchases, the bok choy inspired me to think Asian, and the menu evolved from there. This is when I really feel like I’m cooking — when I’m building on techniques for cooking and flavoring ingredients that I’ve already learned to construct a thematically complete meal. Each item complemented the others nicely, tied together by the Asian-style flavors.
Here is the menu:
- Pan-seared salmon with sesame drizzle
- Stir-fried bok choy
- Simmered butternut squash with Asian flavors
To make the Pan-Seared Salmon with Sesame Drizzle, season salmon steaks or thick fillets with salt and pepper, and pan-sear over medium-high heat in a little canola oil until cooked to your liking. In the meantime, heat ½ tbsp. peanut oil with 1 tbsp. sesame oil over low. Stir in 1 tbsp. soy sauce. Drizzle a little over each piece of salmon before serving.
The Stir-Fried Bok Choy is chopped and stir-fried with a little garlic and ginger in peanut oil. After it turns bright green, add ¼ cup chicken stock and 1-2 tbsp. soy sauce. Let the bok choy steam in the liquid until tender.
I have made the Simmered Butternut Squash with Asian Flavors before — click the link for the recipe.