A light and tasty lunch this pan-fried salmon with swamp spinach and shiitake stir fry is ready in 20 minutes including preparation time. Cook the salmon first then cook the side dish in the salmon juices.
Swamp spinach is kangkong. For this recipe, only the stalks were used. Why kangkong stalks and not the leaves? Because the highlight of the side dish is the sweet flavor derived from rice wine. If you use the leaves, they will wilt and get terribly overcooked before the wine is reduced.
But isn’t that wasteful using only the stalks? Where do the leaves go? When I cooked the pork sinigang a couple of nights ago, I intentionally left behind the lower and tougher portion of the stalks so I could use it for a stir fried dish. I suggest that when you cook something that includes kangkong among the ingredients, set aside the stalks for a stir fry. They’re a bit too tough for soups, anyway, but they’re wonderful in stir fried dishes.
If kangkong is not available, you can substitute asparagus or string beans. The cooking time might be longer or shorter depending on how mature the vegetable is.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the salmon fillets and cook over high heat until seared. Flip to sear the other side. DO NOT overcook. Transfer to a plate and keep hot.
- While the salmon fillets cook, prepare the ingredients for the side dish.
- Crush, peel and chop the garlic.
- Cut the kangkong stalks into two-inch lengths.
- Pull of the stalks of the shiitake mushrooms (they are often too fibrous especially if the mushrooms are large) and discard. Slice the caps.
- To the oil and salmon juices that remain in the pan, add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds on until fragrant.
- Add the kangkong stalks and cook, stirring often, for about a minute. Pour in the rice wine. Continue cooking, over high heat, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced to almost nothing. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, this should take anywhere from three to seven minutes. Don’t worry too much about overcooking the kangkong stalks. They are rather fibrous and several minutes of cooking will do them good.
- Add the mushroom caps to the kangkong stalks. Season with salt and pepper. The mushrooms will expel water so you need to cook for a minute or so longer to reduce the liquids for a more concentrated flavor. Besides, you don’t want a soupy stir fried side dish. And a minute or so in the hot pan will allow the mushroom flavor to mix in with the kangkong.
- To serve, lay the salmon on a plate. Spoon the kangkong and mushrooms on the side. Enjoy with rice. Or without. They’re good either way.
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