Monday, November 2, 2009

Ginger & Lemongrass Salmon with Sweet Potato Hash

This dish is a meld of East and West flavors: a Western sweet potato hash is paired with distinctly Asian flavors of ginger and lemongrass and unified by a delicious fillet of pan-fried Atlantic salmon.

First, let's talk about the hash. A hash is a simple side dish that can easily be made on the fly. I used regular Russert and also sweet potatoes for my hash. Dice them up small together with onions, garlic and mushrooms. Start off by sweating the onions and then cook the garlic. Next, add both kinds of potatoes and keep frying them until they soften. To add some Asian flavors to the hash, I sprinkle some coriander and cumin and instead of salt, I used soy sauce instead. Add pepper and the mushrooms and cook for another minute and set aside. Have some scallions and parsley chopped and ready to fold into the hash when you are ready to serve. Do not add them now as they will soften with the heat and turn to mush.

Now let's get on to the salmon. Before cooking it, finely chop onions, garlic and ginger. I used lemongrass to add a citrus flavor. As you can't eat the lemongrass, cut the stalk into about an inch in length (so that they can be easily removed later) and crush them with the side of your knife to release its flavors. Remove the skin from the salmon and season both sides with salt and pepper. Get a pan of oil hot and pan fry the salmon, starting with the skin side up. You can also sprinkle some flour onto the salmon if you so choose before frying. As soon as the frying side of the fish turns a little crispy, turn it over to fry the other side. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, the fish may not be cooked all the way through even though the external flesh is slightly crispy. If this is the case, turn on your oven to 400F and bake the salmon for 5 - 10 minutes or until it is cooked. Remember not to overcook the salmon or it will dry out.

Let's move to making the sauce. When the salmon is out of the pan, pour some of the excess oil out and saute the onions, lemongrass, ginger and garlic (in that order), all the while scraping the pan to get the delicious bits and pieces of the salmon to mix in with the other ingredients. Deglaze the pan with 1 tablespoon each of fish sauce and kicap manis. Add 1 cup of water and continue to simmer in order to concentrate the flavors. When you get the flavors to your liking, remove the stalks of lemongrass before serving. At this point, reheat your hash and fold in the chopped scallions and parsley. Leave some scallions to garnish the salmon with. Plate it up like you see in the pictures and you have yourself a delicious salmon dinner with sweet potato hash.

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