Recipes like this make me very happy to be living in a sub-tropical climate. The balance of the salty, the sour and the sweet in South-East Asian cooking is intoxicating and perfect during the warmer months.
This recipe is from Bill Granger’s latest book ‘Bill’s Everyday Asian’. There are so many Australian cookbooks on Asian food, well at least our take on Asian food, like Kim Terakes book ‘The Great Aussie Asian Cookbook‘ – a great title! We can’t get enough of it.
I didn’t grow up with Asian food but when I was about 9 I went and stayed overnight with my Grandma up in Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast. It was my first night staying with Grandma by myself and we walked down to the main street and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant which I believe is still there today. The whole experience was very foreign as I had never had Chinese food and eating out was a rarity. I had fried rice and raved about it for years. My Grandma made me feel very special and my eyes had been opened to new food.
It wasn’t until my late teens that I discovered Thai curries, Indian curries, noodle dishes, sushi etc. And when I lived in Indonesia for a small stint there was satay chicken, beef rendang, gado gado. Nasi Goreng was my staple in Indonesia, complete with a fried egg on top, but I also got a renewed appreciation for the tropical fruit over there that is readily available back here in Brisbane.
My kids have been exposed to all sorts of exotic flavours which sometimes they love and sometimes they won’t go near. Tilly never use to be able to handle fish sauce, whenever she smelt it she would have to leave to room but she had no issues last night. The salmon is marinated briefly in fish sauce and a little caster sugar and then the salad dressing has a little fish sauce too. I think the fact that there was salmon and sweet, juicy lychees all on the same platter made this irresistible to the kids.
I served the salad on a big platter for everyone to help themselves to and a bowl of rice for the kids as a bit of a filler. I had intended to do fried rice but once the salad was made it was too hard to wait another minute. We all sat down and devoured it.
If you want to serve this as a family meal and don’t think the kids will go for the fish sauce, lime juice dressing then just pan fry one of the salmon fillets and place on a separate plate. Reserve some of the cucumber, snowpeas and lychees to serve to the kids without dressing. Fried rice or steamed rice makes this a complete meal or you could toss in some cooked vermicelli noodles. But for Joel and me last night the salad was so satisfying that this was a meal in itself.
This is one incredibly delicious, healthy salad and I will be making it again. It was on the table within 15 minutes! I am keen to buy a Chinese roast duck and use it in place of the salmon one day. Duck and lychees are a classic combination.
crisp salmon, lychee, coriander and chilli salad
(slightly adapted from Bill Granger’s book ‘Bill’s Everyday Asian’)
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 teaspoon caster sugar
4 skinless salmon fillets (about 180g each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
300g snow peas, sliced in strips on the diagonal ( I used a combination of snow peas and sugar snap peas but I would just stick with the snowpeas)
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
20 lychees, peeled and de-seeded or a 565g tin of lychees, drained
handful of coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and julienned
1/2 a small red onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce, extra
Marinate the salmon fillets in the fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of the caster sugar. Cover and place in fridge for 10 minutes.
Arrange the sliced snowpeas, cucumber, lychees, coriander, chilli and red onion on a large platter.
Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium to high heat. Cook the salmon for a minute on each of the four sides or until cooked to your liking. Set aside to rest.
Mix the lime juice and extra fish sauce together with remaining teaspoon of caster sugar. Break up the salmon and scatter over the salad. Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve straight away.