One of my favorite recipes is a teriyaki ginger broiled ginger salmon, which I recently made served with vegetable-centric, Asian-style spinach and mushroom soba noodle side.
According to AICR’s policy report, 35 percent of most types of cancer are preventable through diet, physical activity, and maintenance of a healthy body weight. The challenge is that following a healthy diet can be difficult – we are all faced with lots of mixed messages in the media about what is considered “healthy”.
The good news is that AICR has an easy and effective method to set yourself up for eating a healthy, cancer-protective diet by following the New American Plate model. The recommendation is simple: fill your plate with 2/3 or more plant-based food (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans) and 1/3 of less animal protein. You can get creative with building your plate – I like to mix dishes together rather than always building the typical American plate that consists of a distinct protein, starch, and vegetable dish.
This recipe includes a 4 oz portion of salmon as the protein to make up 1/3 of your plate. This teriyaki-style salmon meal is made lighter through a home-made sauce (most store-bought teriyaki sauces are full of sugar and chemicals), but remains flavorful with the addition of soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger. It provides a perfect combination of heart-healthy protein, whole grain starch, and multiple vegetables. Use of tamari instead of soy sauce will make it gluten-free.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and have a stronger, nutty flavor than most noodles. Many buckwheat noodles also have some wheat flour in them, but pure buckwheat soba can be found that are gluten-free (if needed). Soba noodles are generally found dried in small packets in Asian markets or in the ethnic section of the grocery store. I love serving them as an alternate starch to regular pasta because they are 100% whole grain and have a nice hearty texture. Consuming whole grains is linked with lower risk for colorectal cancer and helps you get a good dose of fiber in your meal.
Because spinach cooks down so much – 1 lb raw reduces to about 1 cup cooked – eating cooked spinach is a great way to get in a high dose of nutrients, even in a relatively small portion. Spinach is an excellent source of iron and vitamins A and K, among other nutrients.
I like to have all the vegetables washed, prepped and ready to go ahead of time since the actual cooking time is short for this recipe. Using pre-chopped garlic or dried ginger can also reduce prep time. You can also request that the fish-monger or store clerk behind the seafood counter pre-cut your salmon filets into even pieces to ensure each piece will cook in the same amount of time. Because the cooking time for fish can vary depending on your oven, cook the salmon at the very end, right before you are ready to eat.
Once your salmon in cooked, plate the noodle and vegetable dish (about 1 cup total per plate, to make up the 2/3 plant-based portion of your plate), alongside the salmon. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds and green onion on top for garnish.
6 oz soba noodles
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbsp sesame, peanut, or canola oil, divided use
12 medium mushrooms, sliced (any variety works)
1 lb baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 2 tsp dried ginger), divided
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp honey
1/4 cups water
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
4 (4-oz) salmon filets (1 lb total, cut into 4 individual portions)
2 scallions, green section thinly sliced
1. Bring a medium pot filled with water to boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain and shock under cold running water or in an ice bath (water and ice mixed). Drain well and transfer to a mixing bowl.
2. Add sesame seeds to a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring constantly, until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and set sesame seeds aside.
3. In a large skillet over high heat, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and stir-fry the mushrooms until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, garlic, and 1 Tbsp of the ginger and continue to stir-fry until spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat and add the vegetables to the noodles, mix together.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, water, vinegar, and red pepper flakes (if using). Drizzle 2/3 of the mixture over the noodles mixture, tossing to coat the ingredients well. Set aside.
5. Place the salmon filets in a baking dish and pour the remaining 1/3 of the soy sauce mixture over the salmon. Take the remaining 1 Tbsp of ginger and spread it evenly over each filet. Let the salmon marinate for 5 minutes, skin side up, in the soy sauce mixture. Preheat the broiler.
6. Flip the salmon to be skin-side down (if it is skin-on) and place in the oven under the broiler. Let the salmon cook until it flakes easily with a fork and is just cooked through, about 8-11 minutes. *Check regularly, as cook times vary by broiler and you may need to lower the salmon’s position in the oven to avoid burning.
7. Divide noodle mixture among plates and garnish with scallion and toasted sesame seeds. Individually plate salmon filets.
Makes 4 (4-oz) Salmon filets with 1 cup soba noodles with vegetables
Per serving: 460 calories, 24 g total fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate, 33 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 520 mg sodium.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is the Head of Food and Nutrition at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on Twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.