Spicy Rice Noodles with Asparagus and Salmon

I was inspired by one of my favorite chefs, David Tanis, and his spicy stir-fry of asparagus.  But I wanted a one-pan meal that would include some healthy protein and a little carbohydrate.  Salmon and rice noodles seemed to make sense and it turned out they were the perfect partners for the spicy asparagus.  I fashioned a little sauce for the dish and it went together in a flash.  Like any stir-fry, you will want to prep all your ingredients before you fire up the stove.  Have your serving plates at the ready; dinner will be on the table in no time at all.

Spicy Rice Noodles with Asparagus and Salmon
(serves 2 to 3)
An 8 to 10 ounce piece of skinless salmon fillet
A tablespoon or so of vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 ounces pad thai rice noodles
12 ounces asparagus, woody ends trimmed, rinsed, and cut into 1 inch pieces
A 1 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and finely minced
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
1 small serrano chile, finely chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium, if you prefer)
3 tablespoons chicken stock or water
1/2 teaspoon chile paste/sauce
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
A handful of cilantro leaves, torn into large pieces
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
A drizzle of sesame oil

In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, stock, chile paste, orange zest, and sugar.  Set aside.  Put the rice noodles in a large shallow bowl and cover with hot water.  Allow to soften for 10 to 12 minutes, then drain well.  Heat a 10 inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Film the pan with a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil, sprinkle the salmon with a little salt and pepper, and quickly sear the salmon on both sides.  Be sure not to overcook the salmon as it will be reheated with the noodles and vegetables.  Remove the salmon to a plate and set aside.  Wipe out the skillet, replace over medium high heat and swirl in another teaspoon or two of oil.  Add the asparagus and toss in the pan until bright green.  Add the ginger, garlic, and serrano chile and stir together.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Lower the heat to medium low and add the soy sauce mixture to the pan along with the softened, drained noodles.  Stir together gently, then add the salmon, broken into generous-sized chunks.  Cover the pan and allow the salmon to reheat and the noodles to soften further in the sauce.  This will take 3 to 5 minutes.  Toss the mixture gently once more and check that the noodles are tender.  If the pan seems dry, add another tablespoonful of stock.  Sprinkle the dish with the sliced onions and cilantro.  Plate the stir-fry and garnish each serving with a little sesame oil and sesame seed. 
(inspired by and adapted from City Kitchen, The New York Times)

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