Monday, March 20, 2006

Teriyaki Plus

Tonight's menu was simple enough that I found myself waiting around while teriyaki sauce bubbled and brown rice simmered. All I had left to do was broil salmon and boil broccoli, so I killed some time by making side dishes.

I had bought a bunch of watercress last week at the Asian market, and it was ready for its close-up. I'm in the process of nailing down a nifty little miso dressing that tastes great on watercress, so I mixed up some of that. The ingredients are sake, mirin, miso paste, sugar, and soy sauce, but I'm still playing with the measurements. I threw the watercress into boiling water for a minute or two, drained and squeezed it, then tossed it in the dressing while hot and let it steep. One side dish down.

Since Margy and I are suckers for spiciness (and since she doesn't like watercress), I thought I'd make a fiery cucumber salad to balance the sweetness of the teriyaki and miso dressing. I was reaching for the chilies when I remembered my kimchi experiment, inspired by last month's incredible Chinese banquet. The cook had explained her broccoli-stem kimchi but didn't provide specific guidelines, so I did the best I could, and the results were sitting in the fridge. I ended up using so many Thai peppers that you take one bite and your tongue disappears in a puff of smoke. It's not so fun to eat on its own -- though the hallucinations can provide a pleasant diversion -- so I sliced a few stems and added them and some of their vinegar dressing to thin slivers of cucumber to make a salad that was hot but not unbearable.

Salmon teriyaki, of course, was the main attraction: salty-sweet, slightly boozy, and caramelized on top. It was a blast to have so many varied accompaniments -- including power-packed teriyaki onions -- but the fish is delish on its own.

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