Saturday, June 19, 2010

The best 20 minute meal you'll ever make

 Step 1:  Go to Trader Joe's and buy four things*.
  1. Salmon
  2. Trader Joe's Island Soyaki Sauce
  3. Trader Joe's Frozen Organic Jasmine Rice
  4. Asparagus
Step 2:  Put the salmon into a dish and pour about 1/2 the bottle of sauce over it.  Cover and put into the fridge for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour or so.   Read your mail, yell at the kids, feed the dog, etc. Whatever the normal evening walk-in-the door routine may be at your house.  When you've just about had it with everyone, come back and start dinner.

Step 3:  Set your oven to broil, and move an oven rack into the top position.  Cover a baking sheet with foil, set a metal cooling rack on top of it, and coat rack with non-stick cooking spray.   Take salmon out of the fridge and place on top of the prepared pan.   It is more than OK if some of the sauce is still on it.  Put the salmon under the broiler and set the timer for 12 minutes.  Keep an eye on it, but you actually want it to get pretty brown.

Step 4:  Rinse the asparagus and trim the ends.   Coat lightly with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of kosher salt.   Get out a large frying pan, add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, and heat over medium high heat.

Step 5:  Take out a bag or two of the frozen rice.  Read the directions if you want, but I can tell you it's pretty much open the microwave, put the bag in, cook for three minutes, take the bag out.  The rice will then be fluffy and perfectly cooked.  It's like a miracle.

Step 6:  While the rice is cooking, add the asparagus to the hot pan and stir fry for 4-6 minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are, or until crisp-tender.   Ideally you'll get some nice char on parts of it, almost like grilling.   The rice will be ready right in the middle of this, but don't worry.  You can just leave it in the microwave until you're done with the asparagus.

Step 7:  About two minutes before the salmon comes out, heat up some more of the Soyaki sauce in a small sauce pan.    Add about 1 Tbs. of butter and a handful of minced green onions, if you like.   Stir until the butter is melted.  It's done.  You can easily do this while the asparagus is cooking.   Trust me, I do it all the time.

Step 8:  Take salmon out of the oven.  It should be caramelized and nicely browned all over.  Check to see if it's done to your liking.  If it needs more time, place it on a lower rack in the oven for a couple more minutes.

Step 9:  Serve this delectable salmon, rice and asparagus to your stunned and delighted family.   Tell the cat to get down from the table.  Pass sauce alongside.

Step 10: Say a prayer of thanks to that most holy and blessed patron saint of harried mothers everywhere:  Trader Joe's.

  1. This exact same plan works great with almost any kind of firm-fleshed fish.  It's awesome with swordfish, for example. 
  2. You can sub in a salad or Trader Joe's yummy "steam-in-bag" sugar snap peas for the asparagus if you don't want to deal with a frying pan.
  3. You can cook rice from scratch if you're so inclined.  Just start that cooking before the salmon so the timing comes out right. 
*This will cost you less than $20.


  1. Hi, regarding your 20 minutes salmon, might I ask how much salmon you terms of ounces or pounds. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I usually get about a pound and a half or two pounds for our family of four. You can cook this either in already portioned pieces (6 oz or so each), or do a whole filet, but just cook it a little longer. It's super flexible. Hope you enjoy!