Confession: I love to cook, but I hate menu planning. Reading through the perfect weeknight recipe, only to discover that I’m on my own for veggies or sides, makes me break out into a sweat. Because now I have to spend time googling “easy and healthy-ish sides,” hop between recipe tabs on my computer, and juggle prep times.
So! I’m always looking for recipes that deliver delicious straightforward dishes. Cue Caroline Chambers and her amazing newsletter What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking.
Caroline, a cookbook author and mother of three, knows how much strategy it takes to prepare a fulfilling meal when you’re low on time and energy. So, she puts together recipes that you actually want to make on busy evenings. Each recipe takes less than an hour to prepare (some less than 15 minutes), and they’re crowd-pleasers. Exhibit A: This salmon tempura bowl…
Salmon Tempura Crunch Bowls
Recipe from What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking
“I had this recipe in my head for a few months, and then I cooked it for lunch with girlfriends. My friends lost their marbles over it! I lost my marbles over it. I also pulled it off in only an hour with a cranky baby wanting to be held every other minute. Throw the salmon in a bowl with dressed greens and buttery brown rice, drizzle sriracha mayo on top, and wowza! It is delightful.”
Buttery Brown Rice
1 1/2 cups brown rice (or just use frozen rice)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds salmon, skin on or off
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Greens and Things
1 bunch cilantro, divided
5 ounces mixed greens
1/2 English cucumber, cut in half then thinly sliced into half moons
Juice of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Optional additions: thinly sliced apple or persimmon, thinly sliced fennel or red onion, thinly sliced scallions, peanuts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha
Juice of 1/2 lime
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add brown rice and boil it just like pasta until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, then return the rice to the pot and stir in butter and a big pinch of salt. Cover until dinnertime. While the rice is cooking, work on everything else. (*Or just use frozen rice!)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sprinkle 1 1/2 pounds salmon with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, garlic powder, and ginger powder, then rub with soy sauce, sriracha (1 tbsp will not make it spicy, it’ll just flavor it; add another tbsp for heat, if you’d like!), 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and maple syrup (or brown sugar). If your salmon has skin, place it skin-side down on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, panko breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, and a big pinch of salt. Roughly chop up 1 bunch of cilantro (the entire thing — leaves and stems!). Separate 1/3 cup of the chopped cilantro, finely dice it, and add it to the panko. Set the rest of the chopped cilantro aside for the salad. Stir the breadcrumb mixture until all is well combined and the panko is coated in butter and oil.
Spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the salmon. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the salmon easily flakes when you prod at it with a fork.
While the salmon is cooking, make the greens and sriracha mayo.
Throw 5 ounces mixed greens into a large bowl along with the rest of the chopped cilantro and your cucumber moons. Add the juice of a large lime, sesame oil, and a big pinch of salt. Toss to coat the greens. Taste. Want it zingier? More lime juice or any vinegar! I usually add several more pinches of salt. Maybe some pepper, too, if you’re feeling wild.
Now make the sriracha mayo by stirring together 1/2 cup mayo, 1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha, the juice of 1/2 lime, and a small pinch of salt. Taste and add more sriracha if you want it spicier.
Then set everything out (the buttery brown rice, salmon, bowl of dressed greens, sriracha mayo, and any optional additions) and let your eaters build their own bowls! I like for the base of my bowl to be rice on one side, greens on the other side, with the salmon on top drizzled with sriracha mayo.
Thank you so much, Caroline!
P.S. Nine family meals we’ve loved to death, and three Trader Joe’s meal hacks.
(Photos by Caroline Chambers for What To Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking.)