I love this recipe because the salmon is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The salmon is coated in cornstarch and pan-fried until a crisp, outer shell forms and then it is served with a side of garlic sautéed spinach and jasmine rice topped with a sweet and sour soy tamarind sauce.
This recipe is based on a dish at one of my favorite restaurants in New Jersey, Origin, an eatery specializing in French and Thai fusion food. It’s at the top of my list of stops to make every time I go home. Sometimes my mom even picks it up for me before coming to get me from the airport. It’s one of those restaurants where everyone knows exactly what their order is.
I cut the salmon into individual fillets before coating it in the cornstarch and pan-frying it. This gives each piece a crispy exterior on all sides. Look for a thicker middle piece of fish. When buying fish, ask where it came from and when it was shipped in. When it’s in season I love using Alaskan salmon from the Copper River.
Tamarind is a tree that produces a pod-like fruit that tastes similar to lime but with a sweeter and more tart flavor. Tamarind paste can be found at specialty grocery stores and most Whole Foods in the Asian foods section. It’s a great recipe to make if you’ve already bought tamarind for Pad Thai!
Fish sauce adds a funky, salty, umami flavor to any dish. It get’s it’s flavor from the process of fermenting fish over a long period of time.
I dust the salmon fillets with cornstarch to absorb the excess moisture and crisp the exterior of the fish while it cooks. I also use it on shrimp in my crispy rice bowl. It’s a great way to crisp foods while keeping it gluten-free.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat through. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, tamarind, brown sugar, fish sauce and ⅓ cup (75g) of water, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Season salmon with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cornstarch over pieces and pat so that it covers all parts of the salmon. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Once hot, shake off excess cornstarch from salmon then add the filets of salmon skin side down in the pan. Sear the salmon on each side until cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Be careful that the oil doesn’t spatter, if it begins to spatter, turn the heat down to medium-low. Remove the salmon from the pan to a plate and set aside.
Serve the salmon on a bed of rice and spinach. Ladle the tamarind sauce over the top and serve immediately.
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