Gingerly Planning, Still (Ginger lemon bread, Ginger soy salmon, Soba noodles in fragrant ginger broth)

It's been more than a week, and despite a string of flavorful and aromatic meals whittling it down, our amazing bulk of ginger root continues to throw its weight around in the crisper drawer. I'd even venture to say the time to wrap and freeze a good-sized portion of it is imminent. That said, our hardy nightshade has been treating us well, especially during a week that seemed rife with so many stress-inducing stumbling blocks. Our computer completely crashed in a big, blaring way, just as I was about to e-mail an attachment for a story with an impending deadline; luckily the article could be salvaged, but the headaches of picking up the pieces and trying to retrieve as much as possible has kept Dave sleeplessly pulling his hair out all week. After that main event, I guess every little thing felt like a major pain, like local fires leading to swelling sinus trouble yet again (much more manageable trouble, however, thanks to Meg's year-long urging to switch from the neti pot to the Neil Med rinse bottle!), aches, pains and fatigue, things breaking, plans flaking, hopes dulled, you know the drill. And then, before we knew it, Friday morning, and the staggering, horrifying footage of the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan. Wow. The scope and scale sure put what felt like a bad week in perspective. In fact, I even feel a little guilty writing about the likes of bread and noodle bowls with the cloud of such massive tragedy overhead. Then again, here we are. You can't say there hasn't been plenty to keep us grounded recently. The turmoil in Africa, for instance. Initially, when events began unfolding in Egypt, I wondered to myself, who can talk about anything but Africa right now? It was/is so incredibly fascinating. And then, Colonel Gaddafi's madness exposed so starkly on the world stage, his brutal reaction beginning to stifle the momentum of his people, and it all begins to fade into the background as life here goes on, until the next breaking news. Since this is a food blog, and I can't resist trying to tie ideas, moments, and expressions with food (with some sort of meaning, at least in my own mind), I just have to try to relate ginger to this week, somehow. So full of contradictions, bold but soothing, spicy and peppery, but as good for a comforting cookie with milk as a pungent, strong curry. In any case, the root that Dave bought to help ease inflammation was just what I needed this week, with its funny way of granting relaxation from stressful tasks while promoting a pop of alertness to look around and wake up to the big picture.

Here's how we used our ginger root this week:

Honey Ginger Soy Salmon

serves 2-4

This is one of my favorite salmon recipes, and it's so easy. I got this general marinade from a recipe in the local paper years ago, but lost the clipping without writing down the exact amounts. Honestly, I usually approximate, but this is about right. Not that there's a wrong. I had it with steamed vegetables and pineapple cilantro brown rice. : )

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2-4  (approximately 6 ounce) salmon fillets
  1. In a wide bowl or dish combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, honey, and green onions and mix well. Coat salmon, cover, and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium heat.
  3. Remove salmon fillets and grill for approximately 12  minutes per inch of thickness,  until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Ginger Lemon Bread

This is a dense loaf made in the bread maker that makes me think of afternoon tea. I liked it more than Dave did.

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread maker per manufacturer's recommendations. Select basic bread cycle and start.

Soba Noodles in Fragrant Ginger Broth

These noodles were so blissfully aromatic, I had to include the word fragrant in the recipe title. We adapted the dish from this Whole Living recipe, which also looks delicious as is. I love kale (much more than bok choy, which seems more compatible) and liked to think it added a sort of fusion feel. This would be great with udon, glass, or other noodles, too. : )

  • 1 bunch scallions, whites only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • dash red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2-3 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed and halved on a diagonal
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced crosswise
1. Heat 1 teaspoon of sesame oil in a medium saucepan; add scallions, ginger, and garlic, and saute 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth and water; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer while preparing remaining ingredients.
2. While broth is simmering, heat remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil in grill pan over medium-high. Slice tofu in half; season with salt and pepper. Add tofu pieces to hot pan and cook, turning to grill all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan until cool enough to handle. Cut into cubes.
3. Add pepper flakes (if using), pepper, and kale to broth mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer a further 5-10 minutes. Add soy sauce, snow peas, chile, and soba noodles and return to a light boil. Cook until soba noodles are  done, according to package directions.