Rich, sticky, sweet and savoury, the sauce here is just delicious with salmon, and this dish will even entice non fish-eaters to the table and have them proclaiming “yum” (true story!). It’s lip-smacking and intensely flavoured and just needs some simple steamed greens and rice to round out an easy, fast dinner.
600g (1 lb 5 oz) salmon fillets, skin on
2 tbsp julienned ginger
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup Chinese Shaoxing wine
2 whole star anise
1 1/2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
1 tbsp red fermented tofu*, mashed (optional)
1 tbsp peanut oil
sesame seeds, to serve
steamed rice, to serve
Sesame garlic greens
3 small baby bok choy
1 small wedge of Napa cabbage (aka wombok)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, very finely sliced
2 tbsp oyster sauce
Cut the salmon, leaving the skin on, into 4cm (1.5”) pieces. Using paper towels, pat dry the salmon all over.
Combine the ginger, soy sauces, Shaoxing wine, star anise, sugar and mashed fermented tofu, if using, in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Heat the peanut oil in a large wok or heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the salmon, skin side down, and cook for 2 minutes or until the skin starts to turn crisp.
In the meantime, for the sesame garlic greens, place all the ingredients along with 3 tablespoons of water into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a plate and cook on HIGH in the microwave for 3 minutes.
Coming back to the salmon, add the sauce mixture to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the cooking liquid is very reduced and thickened and the fish is just cooked through. It should still be a bit pink in the middle, although cook it all the way through if you prefer. Add a little water if the glaze thickens too much and looks like it might burn around the edges. (I like to do the majority of the cooking skin side down, turning the salmon over near the end of the cook so the flesh doesn’t dry out.)
Transfer the salmon to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the pan sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with the sesame garlic greens and steamed rice.
– If you’re feeling adventurous, add a tablespoon of red, fermented tofu. You can easily buy this from an Asian supermarket and it’s not expensive (plus it lasts forever in the fridge). Just mash up some of the tofu with some of its liquid from the jar and add along with the soy sauce mixture — it adds an incredible umami depth of flavour and boosts the ‘red’ colour.
– You could also pan steam the greens, if you prefer. To do this, heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the wombok wedges and bok choy with about 1/3 cup water, then cover and steam for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and oyster sauce, then cover and continue steaming for another 3-4 minutes or until they are just cooked through, adding a little extra water if necessary.