Take a versatile and flavorful piece of fish like salmon and elevate it with sauces for a quick and healthy meal.

By: Diane Nicole Go

The great thing about fish is that it’s very versatile.

On days that my family wants to eat beef (which I rarely eat) for dinner, I would grab some fish from the freezer, and experiment with it. But for days when I want something simple, I’d stick to what I know— pan frying.

The sauces, however, are another story. I get to play around with the sauces, based on what I’m craving. For this recipe, I made two kinds of sauces— one Eastern and the other Western. The Eastern sauce pays homage to Japanese cooking in the form of Soy Garlic, while the Western “sauce” is a blend of cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and basil that you spread on the fish. And the good thing about these sauces is that they could be used to add depth to other dishes. The Soy Garlic, for example, can be served with fried chicken, while the Cream Cheese blend can be used as a spread on crackers or bread.

To top off this healthy dish, I added some buttered asparagus, which would make my mother proud. Her carnivorous daughter—actually eating vegetables? Now that’s a miracle.

Pan-fried Salmon with Soy Garlic Sauce or Tomato-Basil Cream Cheese

Pan-fried Salmon

– 1 Salmon fillet, 250g
– Salt and Pepper, to taste
– ½ tsp of Lemon Juice
– 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil

Marinade the Salmon fillet with salt and pepper for 30 minutes to an hour. When it’s ready for cooking, add the Lemon juice. Bring the stove to medium heat, add in your Cooking Oil, and place the fish on the pan, skin first. Let it cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy. Flip the salmon over and cook the other side until the meat feels firm to the touch. (The cooking time depends on the size and thickness of the salmon that you plan on cooking)

TIP: Add the lemon juice to the fish only before cooking it because if left long enough, the acid from the lemon will cook the fish before it even touches the pan.

Buttered Asparagus

– 1 bundle of fresh asparagus
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 thin slice of butter
– Water

Remove the woody ends of the asparagus by bending the ends over until it snaps. With the peeler, remove the remaining tough parts.

In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Quickly put in the asparagus, and blanch it for 2 minutes, or until the stalks are bright green. Strain, add some salt and pepper, and place the butter on top while hot. Serve with your salmon dish.

Soy Garlic Sauce

– ¼ cup Soy Sauce
– 2 Tbsp Vinegar (for this recipe, I use vinegar that was infused in garlic and chili to add extra spice to the sauce. If you don’t have any, ordinary Vinegar is fine)
– 3 Tbsp Sugar
– 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
– ½ tsp of Sesame Oil
– 1 Tbsp of Spring Onion, finely chopped (Optional)
– 1 tsp Cornstarch
– 2 tsp Water, Room temperature

Set the heat of your stove to low. Whisk the Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Sugar, Garlic and Sesame Oil in a small pot, until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, mix the Cornstarch and water until it makes a slurry. Add this to the sauce and mix until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat, top it all off with Spring Onion and serve with your fish.

TIP: Sesame is a very aromatic oil, so it adds depth and flavor to Asian dishes and sauces. But don’t add too much of it, otherwise your food will have a weird aftertaste.

Tomato-Basil Cream Cheese

– ½ cup Cream Cheese
– ¼ cup Sundried Tomatoes, minced
– 1 Tbsp Basil, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with your Salmon, and keep the excess in the refrigerator.

TIP: Keep your Tomato-Basil Cream Cheese chilled until it’s time to serve the salmon.

Salmon with Soy Garlic Sauce or Tomato-Basil Cream Cheese

Salmon with Soy Garlic Sauce or Tomato-Basil Cream Cheese
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