You may think that as a food blogger, we would eat well in our household. The truth is, outside of what is posted on this blog, we eat a lot of junk. Boxed mac & cheese is a part of our weekly rotation, as is packaged ramen, way too much thai takeout, and the occasional ice cream bender. To our defense, I try to sneak in veggies wherever possible: frozen peas and mushrooms in our mac & cheese, peppers and scallions in our ramen, but still, a lot of junk.
Why? How? Well, I think it comes down to not wanting to cook after making and eating whatever it is I'm making for this blog over and over again in a short period of time. I'm reminded of an article by Mark Bittman for the New York Times where at one point he talks about writing his first cookbook and his daughters proclaiming he "fed them squid every night for two weeks," a claim which he declares as "ridiculous; it couldn't have been more than three or four times a week." I must assume he's being cheeky with that last comment, as three or four times a week is more than plenty!
That said, occasionally I do get waves of enthusiasm for making well balanced meals every day, my only wish is the enthusiasm would last all year round. For example, yesterday for dinner, I made a quinoa and string bean salad, which only served to reinforce the fact that I h8 quinoa (who else feels similarly? holla), I won't make it again. But in contrast, one of the tried and true dishes that consistently makes it into our rotation when we feel like being good to bodies is this fish rice bowl I'm sharing with you today.
This bowl is composed of a few essential elements: a grain, a protein, something starchy, something green, and a sauce. So you could customize it any way you would like. What you see here is our current favorite version. It contains arctic char which is my favorite fish of the moment. It looks like salmon but is much milder in flavor with flaky flesh and a skin that crisps up beautifully. The fish is paired with sweet potatoes, steamed chinese broccoli, cucumbers, and a soy sauce sauce flavored with garlic, ginger, and rice wine. Hope you enjoy (though I wouldn't begrudge you if you went for the mac & cheese instead).
I recommend using Japanese sweet potatoes, the ones with purple skin and white flesh, because they're more starchy and less slimy than the regular orange kind. But feel free to use whichever one you like more.
12 oz Chinese broccoli, roughly chopped
1 large (about 14 oz) sweet potato, sliced into 3/4 inch medallions
12 oz skin-on arctic char, scales and bones removed
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp neutral high heat oil such as safflower or grapeseed
2 cups cooked rice
6 oz english cucumber, cut into medium strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (mirin works too)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 inch segment of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Steam sweet potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a clean plate and cover until ready to use. Steam Chinese broccoli for 5 to 6 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to another clean plate.
Split arctic char into two even filets. Liberally salt and pepper each filet. In a cold pan, place oil and arctic char, skin side down. Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, undisturbed. While the fish is cooking, assemble your bowls and prepare the sauce. In two large bowls, place rice and Chinese broccoli on the bottom and layer the sweet potatoes on top, to one side. In a liquid measuring cup, add soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. Stir to combine and set aside.
When the edges of the fish have turned opaque, use a fish spatula to gently lift each filet from the pan and check the skin. If already crispy, gently flip the fish, if not quite crispy, cook for another 1 to 2 minutes (still skin side down) before flipping. After you have flipped each filet, cook flesh side down for another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Immediately remove from pan and transfer filets to your rice bowls. Turn the heat down to medium and with the oil and juices still in the pan, add garlic and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the soy sauce mixture, it will bubble vigorously. Once the bubbling subsides, turn off the heat. Immediately spoon the sauce over the fish bowls, top with cucumbers and scallions, and enjoy.