Tonight we’re doing one of my favorite easy Asian menus, because when I’m trying to whip dinner together quickly, especially after work on a weeknight, time is not my friend. These three recipes do not take a huge time investment to pull together — all of it should come together in under an hour — but the result is well worth your effort. The three dishes are: maple-soy glazed salmon, asparagus-shiitake stir-fry (possibly my favorite recipe from culinary school), and my own personal version of fried rice. Each of these recipes is scaled for 4 servings. I’ll give you the ingredient lists first, but then we’ll be working all three dishes together to get them done together. Just a note – you shouldn’t need salt for any of these dishes because the soy sauce and oyster sauce provide plenty of that already.
For the salmon:
- 4 salmon filets, 6-8 ounces each
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp chili sauce or sriracha (optional)
For the asparagus-shiitake stir-fry:
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms
- ½ cup oyster sauce
- Chili flakes (optional)
And finally, for the fried rice:
- 1 tbsp. clarified butter
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp. whole butter
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 3-4 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 bunch chopped scallions (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tbsp. agave nectar
- Black pepper
For your prep work, start by cooking the rice according to instructions, which will vary based on the kind you use. I prefer jasmine rice for this dish, which takes about 20 minutes to simmer, so you’ll want to get that on first. You might consider cooking the rice in chicken stock instead of water for extra richness. You will also need to get some water boiling for the asparagus. While the rice is cooking, mix all of your sauce ingredients for the salmon and let the filets marinate in it. Wash the mushrooms, cut off the stems and slice the caps into ¼” strips. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for about 1 minute, then shock in ice water. Cut the cooled asparagus at an angle into 1” pieces.
Now we’re ready to begin the real cooking. Let’s get the rice going first. In a large skillet, heat the clarified butter and scramble the beaten eggs until lightly cooked. Pull them to the outer edges of the skillet, melt the whole butter in the center, then add the scallions followed by the cooked rice. Stir to mix all the ingredients so far, and then stir in the soy sauce and sauté the rice for a few minutes. Stir in the agave nectar, which helps balance some of the salt from the soy sauce, along with a few turns from your pepper grinder. Cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting to hold warm.
Next, heat a non-stick skillet over a medium flame and add the salmon filets with the skin side up. While these are cooking for about 3-4 minutes on this side, heat another large skillet (or if you have one, a wok) over medium-high heat and add the vegetable and sesame oils. The sesame provides the flavor punch but has too low a smoke point for stir-fry, so the vegetable oil helps to raise the heat tolerance to a workable level. Sauté the garlic in the oil briefly just to infuse the flavor, then add the asparagus. Stir-fry for about a minute, then add the mushrooms and cook for about two minutes more. Pay careful attention to your salmon while you stir-fry, since you will probably need to flip it at this point. You should see the marinade begin to form a nice thick glaze on the fish. After turning, took it another 3-4 minutes with the skin side down while you finish the vegetable dish.
Lastly, returning to your stir-fry, reduce the heat to low, stir in the oyster sauce and the chili flakes, and mix to coat the vegetables. Let it cook for a minute or two to blend the flavors. By now your salmon should be getting very close to finished, and we’re ready to plate. I like to garnish with some sesame seeds and/or fresh cilantro. Whatever your preference, munch it down with a big happy grin on your face. I hope you enjoy this menu as much as we do. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!