Attempting healthy: soy-glazed salmon bowls

Let me get this out of the way right now: I am not an overly active person. I do not go to the gym. At no point in my past have I owned a gym membership. I do not own one now. And I do not plan on owning one in the near future.

I don’t need to hear it from you, because I know that it is terrible. Even more so when my insatiable appetite is taken into account (not to mention my overall level of fitness). However, put simply, I cannot help it. I hate the very thought of the gym. I hate the thought of my bare skin touching equipment slathered in the sweat of others. I hate the thought of a room full of people watching me flail horrendously on every piece of equipment. And most of all, I hate the thought of those humid sticky showers, within which I will almost certainly contract some kind of infection. You get the idea. I hate the gym. I hate everything about it.

That is not to say I do not partake in physical activity, because I do. I walk as much as I can, with a minimum of 10,000 steps per day during the working week (thank you, iPhone Health App!) and, more often than not, double that amount on weekends. I play tennis in Holland Park (okay, once that The Swede can attest to). And I really wish I could extend this list further, but I just can’t…

The math is easy to do on this one: minimal exercise + love of food = obvious.

So what do I do to ensure that I do not balloon to the size of a house with a double garage? I do my best to eat reasonably healthy meals when dining at home – which is not too much of a chore given I love to cook. And The Swede is (thankfully) always more than happy to enjoy whatever I put in front of him.

Now, this does not mean going overboard. Whilst we do tend to eat less meat (i.e. the focus on the plate often falls less on the protein and more on the goodness that is veg) and we do practice eating fish at least twice per week, I do not cut out fats or oils or any of that good stuff. It simply means that whatever I am putting on the dinner table that night is well-balanced, nutritious and, most importantly, delicious.

But that is enough of my words! Now I must share one of my favourite mid-week meals. The Swede and I both love it – and I know you will too. Trust me on this one.

Soy-Glazed Salmon with Soba Noodle Salad

For the Salmon
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
3 Tbsp caster sugar
25mL sake*
25mL rice vinegar
For the Soba Noodle Salad
2 fistfuls of 100% buckwheat soba**
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp mirin
2 green scallions, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
handful cherry tomatoes, halved
handful broccolini, halved
handful curly kale
To serve: dried nori seaweed, toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. For the salmon, combine the two types of soy sauce, sugar, sake and rice vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced to a glaze (around 8-9 minutes). Place the salmon, skin-side down, on an oven tray and brush all over with the glaze. Bake until just pink (5-6 minutes), then remove skin and break into thick chunks before setting aside. (At this point, I roll the pieces through the remaining soy glaze to pick up a little extra flavour!)

Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to packet instructions and rinse vigorously under cold running water. Divide among serving bowls and set aside.

Bring salted water to the boil in another saucepan and quickly blanch the broccolini and kale, then refresh. Add to the serving bowls along with the cherry tomatoes.

Combine the remaining ingredients (soy sauce, lemon juice, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, mirin, scallions, grated ginger) for the dressing and mix well. Drizzle liberally over the serving bowls and toss to coat evenly, adding more dressing as necessary. Top with the salmon, nori seaweed, toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander. Serve immediately.

*If I am out of sake, I substitute mirin.

**I use Clearspring Organic 100% Buckwheat Soba from Waitrose. They are totally wheat-free and have a perfect chewy bite, alongside a rich, nutty flavour that I love.

Note: Get creative! I sometimes like to finish my healthy bowls off with a scattering of ikura (salmon roe) for a little extra Omega 3. And feel free to use any spare veg lying lonely in your crisper! As you can see, I have added kale in this recipe. Green beans work really well, as do snow peas and corn (as pictured). Go nuts – the possibilities are endless!

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