What’s For Lunch? Smoked Salmon Bento Box


SalmonBentoBox

UPC’s Smoked Salmon Bento Box

Ok, I’ll admit it… I’m an addict! I’m an unmitigated food addict. It’s always been my “drug of choice,” so to speak, and that hasn’t changed one iota over the years. And I love it!!

“I’m UPC, and I’m an addict.”

“Welcome UPC.”

All jokes (mostly) aside, these Bento-Box lunches have been leaving me seriously looking forward to my lunch every day! It’s not like I don’t normally enjoy my food. Of course I do, it’s made by my favorite chef! No, this is another situation entirely. I thoroughly enjoy the idea of being in a position to easily, painlessly carry a full meal, and a full-looking meal, all the way to work with me to eat at my leisure. It’s truly a delight.

Smoked Salmon Bento-Box; What you’ll need:

  • Smoked Salmon:
  • 12 oz Smoked Salmon
  • 2 oz “Glaze” (Apple Cider Vinegar (or any flavor), Olive Oil, Black Peppercorns, Whole Mustard Seeds; mixed together and soaked for a day)
  • Salad Eggs
  • Salad:
  • Favorite Mixed Greens
  • 1 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 large Avocado, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Cook and prep time: 30 minutes

1. Prepare the Salad Eggs. I used ham, basil, and carrots for this Salad Eggs dish.

2. In a pan, sear the smoked salmon on high heat for about 1 minute per side.

3. After turning off the heat, paint the salmon with the glaze, leaving the salmon in the pan so that the glaze can thicken in the heat. Let the salmon sit in the glaze for 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Slice the salmon and put it in the Bento Box.

5. Mix the salad ingredients and add them to the Bento Box.

6. Add the Salad Eggs to the Bento Box. And bring it to work to enjoy!

Questions:

  • What kinds of lunch foods get you excited?
  • Do you ever eat seafood for lunch?
  • Do you prefer smoked salmon, or another preparation method?
  • Do you prefer a different salmon preparation for a different meal? Have you ever thought about it?

Restaurant Review: Saigon Cafe, Jersey City, NJ


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http://www.saigoncafejc.com/

Eating out is always an interesting scenario. I know, intellectually, that I can eat a salad almost anywhere. Obviously, there are places that I choose to shy away from intentionally… But for the most part, finding a decent place to eat out, at this point in my diet, is more about whether or not the restaurant is going to serve me anything other than a salad that I’ll want. That’s the big question. There are some issues, that I’ve discussed in previous posts, that need to be carefully considered before eating out. Just keep these in mind when you’re eating out:

  1. All cooking surfaces are almost certainly greased with a soy oil or soy derivative oil.
  2. All dressings, sauces, and other flavorings (except spices, so far) almost certainly have soy and wheat in them.
  3. The meat is almost certainly CAFO meat-factory meat.

So, keeping in mind that I really enjoy cooking, and the fruits of those labors, it turns out to be fairly irregular that I eat out. Mostly, I make all of my own food, and I eat only things that came out of my kitchen. It’s the simple and delicious solution. And when I do go out, I keep notes.

Saigon Cafe, Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ

My first impression of the Saigon Cafe restaurant was a pleasant surprise. This looked like it would count as one of those “Local Hole-In-The-Wall” places, where you encounter some really top quality food. I was hoping that their menu would be packed to the brim with seriously traditional Vietnamese food. We were seated in a small dining area, with about 10 tables. The waiter was ancient, and my guess is that he was the proprietor of the place. I like that about a place. I usually assume that the food is more likely to be lovingly crafted when the proprietor is the person seating me at the tables. It’s a pride thing for them, not just a paycheck.

The menu was a little challenging for me, but that was not surprising. Keeping in mind that soy and rice are deeply ingrained in the various Asian cultures, I didn’t expect the menu to be teeming with meals that were soy free. But I did expect that I would be able to mix-n-match my way to a well conceived soy-free meal.

The waiter came over to take our order. He spoke passably good English, and had no trouble guiding my through my options as soon as I told him that I’m allergic to soy. He stood over my shoulder, pointing at menu items as I flipped the page. “You can eat that one, or that one.” He would say. And “No, no, not that one.” When I tried to order the slow-cooked beef short ribs. Short ribs are very Vietnamese, and I really enjoy the way they cook them. Except for the soy sauce part.

With the proprietor’s help, I settled on a meal in no time. I love seafood, and they were serving something they called Claypot Seafood Curry. I like curry, seafood, and the “Claypot” meals were supposedly slow-cooked stews – and I love things that are slow-cooked!

Claypot Seafood Curry

It was full of flavor! There was clearly some sweetener in the dish, as well as some coconut milk or cream. But the over-all flavor was strong, yet well balanced. The curry was a yellow-curry, as you can see in the picture, and was delightful. The seafood all seemed quite fresh, and was slow-cooked to perfection.

All told, my experience in Saigon Cafe was quite satisfactory! I definitely recommend it for anyone in the Grove Street area of Jersey City, NJ.

What’s For Lunch? – Double Coconut Salmon with Side Salad


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Continuing the Caribbean theme with the coconut and fish (salmon in this case), and of course using up the rest of my pineapple, this lunch is an excellent meal to bring to work and chow down to your heart’s content at lunch!

No Colombia story today… Instead, I’ll share a different story which is fresh in my mind, and will likely be forgotten if I don’t tell it now! I’ve been fearing for a few weeks now that the heat would likely soon get in the way of me running to work. I can take off my suit coat for a while, once it gets to that, but that will only be a temporary solution. The truth is that I do most of my training wearing very little clothing, and my morning runs to the ferry are done wearing quite a lot more. The difference, while it is likely good for me to change up my “training” a bit, also increases the probability of me sweating too much in my suit.

Anyway, as I was considering whether we had gotten there yet this morning, and dodging the generally ever-present goose droppings on the path, I noticed that the goose droppings were likely more than I am used to seeing. So I started to pay attention. I like that running gives me a chance to keep an eye on the changes that are happening to my neighborhoods, since I am actively engaged in that very neighborhood daily! Well, looking around at the larger than usual number of goose droppings, I immediately noticed that the geese were leading around their little herd of goslings! I just love goslings! They look like furballs, literally, and waddle around in a straight line behind the goose who is leading them (often the mother, but the mother and father work together actively so it’s usually difficult to tell which is at the head at any given time). They are SO CUTE!

And that, to me, is the surefire sign that Spring is over, and Summer is upon us. That and the fact that I’m wondering, every day now, whether it will be my last fully suited run to the ferry.

What you’ll need:

  • The Salmon:
  • 1 can Wild-Caught Salmon
  • 1/2 cup Celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • The Salad:
  • Salad Greens (this was the “spring mix”)
  • 1 small Zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large Avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 Leek stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Pineapple, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Serves: 2
Prep and Cook time: About 20 minutes (mostly prep)

In a pan, heat up the celery and mushrooms with the coconut oil on a medium heat. Stir these slowly but regularly for the first 1-2 minutes. After about 2-3 minutes these should start to sizzle. As soon as they’re sizzling, add the salmon and coconut chips and mix thoroughly. Keep this on the heat for about 1 more minute, stirring regularly, and then remove. The cooking is done. Leave these on the stove while they cool a bit, and tend to the salad.

The Salmon is pre-cooked as part of the canning process, so there’s no ingredient which actually needs to be cooked to eat like this. The most important part of the cooking process is imbuing the ingredients with the coconut flavors. This comes first from the coconut oil, where the flavor of coconut is very subtle, but will cook in to the food quickly. Then these come from the coconut chips which carry the coconut flavor strongly, and will pass that flavor on to anything it is cooked with. The result is quite delicious!

The salad on the side will compliment the salmon quite delightfully! Not only does it use up the leftover pineapple from my Pineapple Beef post, but pineapple is quite a delicious fruit, and can be eaten alone, along with many other meals! I am a big fan of pineapple in almost all of it’s forms, and love to eat it when it’s in season.

Questions:

  • Have you seen any of the spring/summer animals out to play and be social yet? Squirrels, birds, baby raccoons? Which ones do you look for each year?
  • Have you been startled by some of the early summer wildlife on your walks and runs in the woods or parks recently? Grouse, baby deer?
  • Have you enjoyed any of the wonderfully beautiful early summer flowers? Which ones? Which are your favorite?

Double Coconut Smoked Salmon for Breakfast


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I love salmon. I mean, I really love salmon. It’s one of my favorite meats, perhaps bested only by bacon. I’m not sure, I haven’t actually done the line up of my favorite meats yet, but salmon is definitely up there. So, salmon for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is definitely acceptable. However, there are some ways of preparing salmon which just don’t lend themselves well to a breakfast, and from a practicality perspective, they’re not ideal for most home made lunches either. Like a coconut dill broiled salmon (I’ll get a recipe for this up later). Or a sweet dill baked salmon. It’s not that it wouldn’t be good. It would be great! It’s just that I really don’t want to wait through preparation and cook time for something like that in the morning; where an evening meal is far more ideally suited for longer prep and cook times.

So today, a nice simple dish with quick prep and cook times, I put together a double coconut smoked salmon breakfast. In fact, it could even be called a triple-coconut meal, but I think that’s a bit of overkill in the naming, and the coconut oil is a mostly silent partner here. Here’s how I did it. In one fry pan, I put the mushrooms and celery you see in the picture, and sauteed them lightly in coconut oil with thyme and rosemary. First heat them up on high until they’re sizzling, then reduce to low heat and add a lid, and let it take it’s time. These need to be stirred regularly while they heat up, but they can be mostly ignored once you reduce the heat. While that was cooking, I chopped up 4 ounces of smoked salmon (finely chopped) and added it to some toasted coconut chips. In a second pan, I heated up some coconut butter (about 2 tablespoons) until it was liquid, then added it to the salmon mix and mixed thoroughly and quickly. That’s how I got that homogeneous look in the picture above. Then put the celery and mushrooms on a plate, and serve the salmon over the top.

The flavor of the rosemary and thyme cooks in to the mushrooms, while the celery adds it’s own flavor to the mix. Together, they nicely compliment the smokey flavor of the salmon and toasted coconut chips, while the coconut chips add a sweetness to the dish which is surprising and delightful. All together, it’s a great breakfast dish! You could eat this just as well for a lunch, or a mid day snack, though for practical reasons it may have to be prepared ahead of time.