In this festive season of excess, parties, indulgence, rib sticking fare and sugar overload, I need something light and completely different on the days in between. This simple Asian salmon served with a veggie stir fry is a breath of fresh air.
Quick and easy to make, it packs a punch for little effort.
I stole the Asian dressing from English restaurateur and TV chef Gary Rhodes’ book “Open Rhodes around Britain” some years ago. Gary serves it with a flouncy swirl of creamed potato puree though. Not convinced by cream and potato on the same plate as mirin and soy. So I serve it with a more befitting vegetable stir fry, noodles or rice.
This delightfully simple dressing has proven to complement a wide variety of fish, both whole and filleted: salmon, cod, sea bass, trout, tuna, hake, tilapia, you name it.
It would overpower the more expensive flat fish like sole, turbot or halibut though. Instead, use it in stir fries with chicken, prawns or vegetables.
Today I’m using Omega-3 rich salmon, which can be pan-fried or cooked sous-vide. Instructions for both options are below. You could roast or grill it of course. But I find these methods prone to overcooking and drying out the fish. Maybe that’s just me, as I like my salmon barely cooked and just flaking, without too much milky albumen floating about. Steaming would be a better alternative.
I often serve this salmon dish with a quick braised pak choy. But it was out of stock. Having bought tat soi on special offer instead, the fridge revealed half a cauliflower left over from my alternative Kedgeree, a romano pepper, a carrot and eggs. So this quick tat soi and cauliflower egg fried “rice” was born.
Even if you’re not usually a fan of cauliflower, I’m begging you, give this rice alternative a try. With everything else going on, you’d never know it’s cauliflower, as it’s such a fabulous flavour carrier. Simply stir fried, its wonderful texture and enticing aroma will likely rid you of any remaining school dinner nightmares without the need for further counselling.
Asian Salmon with Chili, Mirin and Soy (serves 2 – GF LC DF RSF)
2 salmon fillets
3 tbsp soy sauce, GF tamari or ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)
3 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp chinese five spice
A few spring onions, finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeds in or out to taste)
A small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
A little rapeseed oil
1 tsp of coconut oil
Bring the soy, mirin and five spice to a boil. You can do this in a small pan on the stove, or in a mug in the microwave for 1 min on medium-high. Stir through the sesame oil and set aside to infuse.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Rub each salmon piece with a little rapeseed oil and add to the dry hot pan, skin side down. Leave it alone for 2-3 mins, or until the skin has crisped up but not burned. Turn it over, turn the heat down to medium-low and give it a minute or two. Turn the heat off and cover. The residual heat will finish cooking the salmon to just flaking.
If you like your salmon more cooked, whack it in the oven, uncovered at 180 C for 4 mins or so. Then let it rest while you finish the dressing.
While the salmon is resting, heat a small frying pan with the coconut oil. Fry the chilli and spring onion for a minute before adding the soy dressing. Simmer on low for another minute. Add the coriander and turn off the heat.
Serve the salmon topped with the spring onion and chilli and the sauce spooned over.
Season and place each salmon portion in its own food-grade bag. Vacuum seal. Leave to rest in the fridge while you heat the water bath:
46 C for translucent and just starting to flake
49 C for tender, moist and flaky
54 C for firm, moist and flaky
For pieces up to 2-3 cm thick, cook in the water bath for 20 mins. For thicker pieces, 30-40 mins max.
Remove the salmon from the water bath and bag. Pat dry with kitchen paper and rub a little rapeseed oil onto the skin side. Flash fry for 30-60 secs on the skin side in a searing hot non-stick frying pan. No need to rest.
Tat Soi and Cauliflower “Egg Fried Rice” (serves 2 – GF DF LC V Vg RSF)
The key ingredients here are the cauliflower rice and the egg. You can change up the rest of the veg according to what you’ve got hanging around.
To add extra flavour and get rid of any excess moisture, you can roast the cauliflower rice for 6-8 mins in a 200 C oven if you have the time and inclination.
1/2 tat soi, leaf ends separated from the stalks, stalks cut into cubes, leaves shredded (use pak choy if preferred)
½ cauliflower, pulsed in a food processor until rice-like
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into pea-sized cubes (brunoise)
1/2 red or romano pepper, seeds removed and cut into pea-sized cubes
A couple of spring onions or a 10 cm piece of leek, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
½ thumb fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp rice wine
1 tbsp GF oyster sauce or hoisin sauce
1 tbsp GF tamari, soy sauce or ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped coriander (optional)
Whisk the eggs with the rice wine. Season with S&P.
Heat a wok on medium high and add 1/2 tbsp coconut oil. Once hot and smoking, add the eggs. Wait 3 seconds, then stir fry until lightly cooked. Remove and set aside. Clean out the wok with kitchen paper.
Heat the wok again, on high heat this time. Add 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil. Once hot and smoking, add the carrot and stir fry for a minute or two. Add the red pepper and stir fry for another minute.
Add the tat soi stalks. Stir fry for a minute. Add the cauliflower rice, garlic, ginger and S&P. Stir fry for a minute. Next the leek or spring onion and the shredded tat soi leaves go in.
Another minute, then add the eggs, the oyster or hoisin sauce, soy and sesame oil.
Serve alongside the salmon, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and coriander if using.
Alternatively, serve as is, alongside my Dutch Chicken Saté Skewers or Nasi Goreng style with a fried duck egg, atjar tjampoer (Indonesian sweet and sour vegetable pickle), a sprinkling of seroendeng (Indonesian roast spiced coconut and peanuts), a dollop of hot sambal (chilli condiment) and extra ketjap manis.