The salad is super simple — although there are some optional additions, its core is just cucumber and a simple dressing.
It’s tangy and light, especially because the thin slices of cucumber add so much refreshing surface area. Letting the ingredients marinate for an hour or so allows the dressing of vinegar with a bit of sugar (and a dash of soy sauce and ginger if you’d like) to both tenderize and soak into the cucumber.
On the other side of the meal, the beef and its marinade are a delicious marriage. You’ll want to use a tender steak for this since a cut with too much fat or connective tissue wouldn’t work well with this quick cooking time.
The marinade is a basic combination of soy, garlic, ginger, mirin, and sugar — a grouping you’ll find over and over in Japanese sauces and marinades. After a couple-hour soak, its flavor permeates the meat so that the iron and earthiness of the beef are complemented by notes of sweetness, tanginess, and umami.
Tuesday: Seafood fried rice
This one’s great because you can kinda adapt it with whatever you’d like. Granted, that’s true of any dish to an extent, but this one is especially true. What types of seafood do you like? Throw ‘em in there! All you have to do is have an idea of how different ingredients’ cooking time could vary since seafood of all types tends to get chewy and less-than-appetizing if you cook it for too long.
Whatever seafood you use, a quick 15-minute marinade in chicken bouillon adds an extra layer of flavor.
Fried rice is also just a great way to use leftover rice. Wasting it and throwing it away stinks — throwing some chopped onions, other veggies, bit of egg, and protein into the mix and frying it up? Boom! No waste and a delicious meal.
Wednesday: Miso salmon
We’ll start this off with the caveat that yes, just like so many from the PNW, we agree: Salmon is so good on its own, you really don’t need to do anything to it. If you’re someone whose philosophy when working with salmon is K.I.S.S., and you subsequently find it sacrilegious to include more than just a bit of salt and maybe pepper, we won’t argue. But this way is almost as simple and mighty tasty too.
In fact, it’s so easy, we’ll sum it up right here:
Although in fairness, you should probably still check out the recipe for best results.
Thursday: Zaru soba
This might not be the move if you find your particular Thursday is a dreary, cold Pacific Northwest winter Thursday, since it’s a cooler, more refreshing dish. But during the rest of the year (or on a rare, non-gray Cascadian winter day), this is perfect.
And besides, even when it’s gross and wet and cold out, this is still a delicious meal.
These are perfect either as a dinner, an appetizer, or as bites for a Friday night party. They’re easiest and tastiest when you assemble them ahead of time and then let them soak (refrigerated of course!) in the marinade for a long time. Then, whenever you’re ready to cook, bring them out and throw them in the oven.
The flavors of this dish are heavily influenced by Southeast Asian and Indian ingredients; you won’t find that same dashi and mirin here — although there’s still a healthy dose of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Instead, you’ll get a taste of cumin, coconut milk, and curry — whether you want to use a Japanese, Southeast Asian, or South Asian curry powder is up to you.
Topping it off with toasted coconut adds a delicious whiff of sweetness. Pro tip: If you’ve got leftover coconut, sprinkle that on top of some ice cream for dessert!
Whether you want to make each of these dishes step-by-step with the accompanying recipes or just use them as springboards for your own culinary instincts, there’s no wrong way to do it. We hope these will help make your weeknight dinners extra inspired and tasty!