Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lunch Week 4: Miso Salmon with Soba, Kabocha Squash, and Bok Choy

So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch the next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it every week unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided.

So my lunch for the week: Miso Salmon with Soba Noodles, Kabocha Squash, and Spinach
This week, I'm doing Japanese flavors. I kept things basic and simple with each ingredient tasting of its natural flavors. I have to say, it's much harder to pull off simple and unadulterated than it is to make something like a flavor bomb.

Salmon is one of the easiest fish to prepare. It's difficult to make it too dry that it's inedible. Or if you under cook it, it would still be good on the raw side. For my lunch this week, I decided to roast it with a miso ponzu sauce (shoyu/soy sauce with citrus). I mixed miso paste with a bit of ponzu to create a loose marinade. Add more citrus if you like. Yuzu juice would work really well here. I brushed the miso marinade on top of the fish in a thin layer. Then I seasoned each piece with salt and pepper.
Into the oven it went at 350oF until lightly cooked, about 10 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and cook no more than 5 more minutes until the top is caramelized.
In the meantime, dissect your kabocha squash. Here I'm using a cleaver to split it in half. Then I used a chef's knife to make thin wedges. Lay flat in one layer in a baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper, and oil.
When the salmon is done roasting, roast the squash at 350oF for 30 minutes until soft.
Cook's Note: I leave the rind on since it's edible but you may remove it using a sharp peeler if you desire.
The rest of the dish is quite simple with boiled soba noodles and sauteed spinach with rice wine vinegar.

Like I mentioned earlier, I purposely left the ingredients almost without much tampering (roasting squash, sauteed spinach, boiled soba noodles, and miso salmon) so that I may enjoy the natural flavors of each ingredient. The salmon is rich and meaty. The miso and ponzu sauce adds a nice level of salinity to offset the fish. The kabocha squash is naturally sweet and roasting it only enhanced the sweetness. The seasoning of salt and pepper balanced it out perfectly. The spinach is simply herbaceous. I used rice wine vinegar to help cut the iron taste. And the soba noodles had a nice hearty buckwheat flavor which is earthy and nutty. If anything, a splash of soy sauce would do.

Miso Salmon with Soba Noodles, Kabocha Squash, and Spinach
Makes 8 Servings
8-1/2lb pieces of salmon
3 tbsp miso paste
3 tsp ponzu sauce or shoyu sauce
2 small kabocha squash, washed
2 bunches spinach, trimmed and washed
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 bunches soba noodles
Optional: yuzu or lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350oF
1. Pat down and dry each piece of salmon. Lay in a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Mix miso paste with ponzu/shoyu. Add more if needed to make a loose paste. Brush evenly oven tops of salmon steaks. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Then raise temperature to broil. Allow tops of salmon to caramelize and brown.
2. Bring oven temperature back down to 350oF.
3. Split kabocha squash in half. Scoop out middle and seeds. Cut into 1/2 inch wedges. Lay on baking sheet in one layer. Season with salt, pepper, and oil. Roast in oven for 30 minutes until softened.
4. While the salmon and squash are roasting, bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and soba noodles. Cook 5-10 minutes until softened. Drain and rinse with cold water. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
5. In same pot, reheat until dry. Add oil and washed spinach. Using tongs, flip spinach around so that each leaf touches the bottom of the pan at a certain point. Add salt and vinegar. Cook until reduced in volume but still retains bright green color. Remove from heat.
6. Plate and serve fish, squash, soba noodles, and spinach while still warm. Enjoy!


  1. Looks pretty good. I just realized a few things: so you eat this the whole week? Also, you don't find miso is salty enough on its own without adding salt?

    Making me hungry!

    1. Yeah, I eat this lunch Mon-Fri. No, the miso paste I bought isn't very salty. So it works.

  2. Nice lunch! I'd totally eat that.


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