A quick Asian-style menu to help with the back-to-school chaos

We will always equate September with the beginning of the school year. Even though our kids are for the most part out of the house, in the fall we regroup and get back into the school year routine. Part of that routine is a need for quick and easy weeknight dinners.

The menu we came up with this month satisfies that need. It includes a delicious homemade teriyaki sauce that can be used for a number of tasty Asian-style dishes. In this menu, we used it as a glaze for baked salmon. We served the salmon with a healthy and flavorful cauliflower fried rice and a refreshing green tea spritzer infused with fresh ginger and lemon. All the dishes are easy to make on a busy week night, but could also be used on the weekend for some casual entertaining.

Though autumn is just around the corner, September in Louisiana still feels like the middle of the summer. To help beat the heat, we developed a delicious and refreshing green tea spritzer that is full of flavor. To sweeten it, we add a little raw honey or
stevia—great for those watching their sugar. The result is a very healthy and thirst-quenching drink to help you stay hydrated during this month’s hot and steamy days.

Servings: 6

4 cups cold water
6 green tea bags
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon peel
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup honey or 2 tablespoons stevia
2 cups sparkling water

1. In a small pot, bring the 4 cups of water to a slight simmer.
2. Turn off the heat and add the teabags, fresh sliced ginger and lemon peel. Steep the tea for 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Strain the tea into a pitcher. Add the lemon juice and honey or stevia. Chill for a couple hours.
4. Before serving, check the tea for your desired sweetness. Adjust it to taste.
5. Add the two cups of sparkling water. Serve the tea over ice along with extra lemon wedges.

We have made it a habit to stock a couple of specialty items in our fridge to help throw quick dinners together. A bottle of teriyaki sauce was always a staple in our house to add to a quick marinade or glaze for a piece of salmon or pork chop. Then we realized how much more delicious homemade teriyaki sauce can be with fresh garlic and ginger. As it turns out, making your own sauce is quite simple and so much more flavorful—it takes teriyaki to a whole new level. This recipe yields about a cup of sauce, so we like to double the batch when we make it. We keep the remaining sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We use just a couple teaspoons of the sauce over baked or grilled salmon to give it a delicious Asian flavor without a lot of effort in the kitchen. Aside from making a great glaze, we use this sauce for a quick stir-fry with fresh vegetables, chicken or shrimp. It is versatile and a great staple to keep on hand in your fridge.

For the sauce:

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. In a medium sauce pot, combine the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, honey and vinegar.
2. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and begins to simmer.
3. While the mixture heats, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Mix until smooth.
4. Slowly stir the cornstarch mixture into the simmering sauce. Continue to stir until thick.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Cool the teriyaki sauce. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For the salmon:

6 (4- to 6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped green onion bottoms
Green onion tops and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1. Rinse the salmon fillets and pat them dry.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
3. Place the fillets in a plastic freezer bag. Pour the marinade into the bag.
4. Seal the bag and gently shake to completely coat the salmon in marinade. Allow the salmon to marinate for 30 minutes.
5. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil.
6. Remove the salmon from the bag and place on the prepared baking sheet.
7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes depending on size and desired doneness.
8. Turn off the oven and remove the salmon. Spoon a couple tablespoons of teriyaki sauce over each piece. Place them back in the warm oven for 2 to 3 minutes so the teriyaki sauce can begin to glaze the salmon.
9. Serve the glazed salmon topped with chopped green onion tops and toasted sesame seeds.

One of our favorite Asian dishes is a steaming bowl of fried rice. It is true comfort food and one we’ve loved since childhood. We have played around with several recipes over the years and have gotten quite good at making our own version at home. Brown rice works well and makes the dish a little healthier. Then we discovered riced cauliflower, which is tasty and amps up the healthy factor even more. It makes for a lighter, guilt-free fried rice that has all the same flavor as the original. It’s also a great way to sneak a few extra vegetables into your family meal.

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
13 cup green onion bottoms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups fresh riced raw cauliflower
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shelled edamame
½ cup green onion tops, chopped

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat one tablespoon of oil. Quickly scramble the beaten egg.
2. Remove the egg from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the skillet on medium heat. Stir in the green onion bottoms and garlic. Sauté for 20 to 30 seconds.
4. Stir in the riced cauliflower along with the soy sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Keep stirring until all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Add the edamame and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the cauliflower and edamame are just becoming tender. Fold in the scrambled egg along with the green onion tops, and serve.

This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.