Wasabi soy-glazed salmon with bok choy and pear slaw

Light, cool, simple: a trinity of simplicity

Originally appeared in the June 28, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

The prime imperatives behind this week’s dish: keep it light, keep it cool.  And it doesn’t hurt to keep things simple, while you’re at it.  This recipe succeeds on all three levels.

The salmon should rest with the sweet-and-savory marinade long enough for the tender fish to absorb the Asian-inspired concoction.  There’s a bit of spice here—what with the wasabi, crushed red pepper, and ginger—but it’s a nice counterbalance to the cool-crisp characteristics of the bok choy slaw.  Like most vinegar-based slaws, you don’t want to make this too far ahead of time before actual service, as the weight and absorption of the dressing compromises the volume and texture of the vegetables.  In other words: you can make your dressing in advance, but please wait until the last minute to execute this step.

As for as cooking procedure, I would suggest firing up the grill outside, but due to the Mohave Desert-like state of most of our arid lawns, it’d probably best to hang out within the ambient coolness of air conditioning.  Best bet: a sturdy grill pan.

After assembling and serving this dish at the kitchen table, my wife, Jess, called this one of her favorites.  Guess what I plan on cooking tonight?

Wasabi soy-glazed salmon with bok choy and pear slaw

Serves 2

For salmon and marinade:

  • 1 pound salmon fillet, skin and pin-bones removed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground wasabi
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 fluid ounce lite soy sauce
  • 3 fluid ounces vegetable oil

For dressing and slaw:

  • ½ fluid ounce sesame oil
  • 1 ½ ounces olive oil
  • 1 fluid ounce apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 heads of bok choy, halved and sliced very thin
  • ½ of an Anjou pear, cut into small batons
  • 2 radishes, cut into matchsticks

1.  In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk all ingredients from wasabi through vegetable oil, and pour into a plastic, zip-tight freezer bag.  Add salmon and marinate for at least four hours.  Afterwards, place a grill pan to medium-high heat, and brush with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray; preheat oven to 400° F.  Remove salmon from marinade (but don’t throw away), and gently place on grill.  Sear and create grillmarks before flipping to opposite side; place salmon on oven-safe dish and finish cooking until desired doneness is reached, intermittently brushing reserved marinade over salmon.  Remove from oven and allow to rest.

2.  In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk oil along with following six ingredients (dressing can be made ahead of time).  Toss bok choy, pear, and radish in a bowl, and drizzle on dressing; gently toss to coat.  Serve salmon on top of bok choy slaw.

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