Salmon Noodle Salad

Salmon Noodle Salad

The past few weeks have been quite tough on the weather front. We were slammed with three consecutive storms that dumped a minimum of 2 feet (60 cm) of snow on us. Temperatures hovering near the 0F mark and 100% humidity just about brought me to a standstill. I can handle snow and cold, and though my bones hurt a little, I’m ok with the dry, cold weather. This snow was wet, heavy and wet. It weighed down the trees and bushes, the branches creaking under the weight of almost 6 inches of slushy snow. The power lines were having a hard time too, and the wind, oh my goodness, the wind chill was quite bone numbing. I pretty much stopped functioning. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

This weekend, however, pushed those snowstorms into the distant memory and we had a beautiful Saturday and Sunday. If it wasn’t for the massive pile of snow in my front yard, you’d never know we even had such cold weather. It’s going to be gorgeous all week long, beautiful spring weather.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Life finds a way.

 We took the opportunity of a sunshiny Sunday and headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a few hours. A busy and hectic summer and autumn last year didn’t allow us much mountain time. We love driving up there to escape the summer heat in the city but we just didn’t get much of a chance. Tiring Saturdays and poor weather has stopped us visiting our favourite park in the winter as well. We rectified that this Sunday. 

Close up of the snow crystals.

Close up of the snow crystals.

We bundled the younger two into the 4Runner and took the new car on its first mountain drive. The temperature up in the mountain is usually about 20 degrees lower than the city, but we were pleasantly surprised that we could do the hike with just a wind breaker. It was chilly, but the sun was shining so it was quite perfect.

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of our favourite spots in the park is a waterfall, actually more of a water rushing down boulders, but it’s a beautiful spot and in the summer, all the snow melts and the water is fast and furious. Winter time, its covered in snow with water gently trickling by under it. The landscape is so strikingly different come summer and it changes every year. This time around, we couldn’t even recognise it.  

Rocky Mountain National Park

It was just so wonderful being out there, in the fresh air, wading through mounds of snow and trying to keep it from sneaking into your boots, and hearing the shrieks echo when it did. There was quite a bit of snow in areas, I would step down and my foot would sink in through at least a foot of snow. I then decided to let the others lead me lest I did myself an injury! I made it through with just a couple of sore knees, ruddy cheeks but an invigorated mind and soul.

Salmon Noodle Salad

This salmon noodle salad will also invigorate you with its fresh flavours, crisp textures and heart, healthy salmon. The flavours are Asian; light and refreshing. Once again, there are no hard and fast rules to this salad. Choose the vegetables you like or prefer and the protein you desire. It can be made vegetarian by replacing the salmon with marinated and grilled tofu, which is what I do for my daughter. It can easily be gluten free if you use a gluten free soy sauce (tamari) for the marinade and dressing.

Salmon Noodle Salad

I used all raw vegetables so throwing the salad together was easy. I used red cabbage, bean sprouts, red peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots and some pomelo segments, to add a sweet tart citrus burst. This was another dinner to increase our seafood intake. My children like salads so adding a piece of salmon on top was not met with much resistance. Besides the salmon is marinated in some soy sauce and brown sugar and pan grilled. All the sugar gets caramelised and adds a lovely sweet, smoky flavour. Once again, use the vegetables you like but use some with varying textures for some interest. The rice noodles add the soft chewy bite and bulk to the salad.

Salmon Noodle Salad

Salmon Noodle Salad

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6

A fresh and vibrant Asian noodle salad with salmon.
Ingredients
  • Salmon and Marinade
  • 6 5oz (145g) wild salmon portions, sustainably caught
  • ½ cup/118ml soy sauce or gluten free soy sauce
  • ¼ cup/60ml water
  • 4-6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
  • Noodle Salad
  • 8 oz/225g thin vermicelli rice noodles
  • cucumbers, julienned
  • carrots, shredded
  • red cabbage, shredded
  • red bell peppers, julienned
  • bean sprouts
  • pomelo supremes
  • cilantro leaves
  • mint leaves
  • lime wedges
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • Soy Lime Dressing
  • ½ cup/118ml soy sauce or gluten free soy sauce
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup/60ml water
  • sriracha, optional
Instructions
  1. Salmon and Marinade
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk all the marinade ingredients together.
  3. Start with 4 tablespoons sugar, add more if needed.
  4. Check to see if the seasoning is right for you.
  5. Adjust with more sugar.
  6. You can dilute the saltiness by adding more or less water.
  7. You want a balanced sweet and salty flavour.
  8. Add the salmon and marinate for no longer than 15-20 minutes.
  9. Heat a cast iron large pan preferably, but any non stick will do or even on an outside grill.
  10. You want the pan fairly hot, add a drop of neutral oil and swirl around.
  11. Add 3 salmon steaks at a time.
  12. If you are using the grill outside, you can do all 6 together probably.
  13. Once the salmon is ready to flip, it will release easily.
  14. It should be nice and charred brown on top and still a bit soft.
  15. Cook the salmon to your desired taste.
  16. I cook it about 5 minutes on one side, and about 3 on the other side.
  17. It does depend on how thick your salmon is too and whether you like a soft pink centre.
  18. Once the fish is cooked, repeat with the remaining steaks and keep warm under a tented foil cover.
  19. Noodle Salad
  20. While the salmon is marinating, soak your noodles according to package instructions.
  21. Usually the thin noodles just need to be soaked in room temperature water for about 15 minutes.
  22. Drain them and toss them in a bit of sesame oil.
  23. If your vegetables are not prepped, cut them up now and place on a plate.
  24. Make the dressing by mixing the soy, lime juice, water, and sugar.
  25. Taste and adjust as needed.
  26. The dressing should have a nice fresh, lime flavour with saltiness from soy and sweetness from the brown sugar.
  27. Add sriracha for some heat.
  28. Once the salmon is cooked, assemble the salad.
  29. Everyone can assemble their own plates with what vegetables they want and add the salmon on top or you can toss all the vegetables with the rice noodles and scoop out onto plates with the salmon on top.
  30. Drizzle with the soy lime dressing and sweet chilli sauce.

Salmon Noodle Salad

I hope everyone was able to have a productive weekend. I hope the weather is cooperating in your part of the world. It’s nice here now but that can change in a matter of hours. In the meantime, I will enjoy the sunshine warming my bones.

Before I sign off, I’d just like to take a minute and mention that today, March 10th is the anniversary of my mother’s passing. She has been gone 17 years and to me it still feels like yesterday. She died too soon, she was 52, but I am happy that the cancer didn’t make her suffer. She passed away 3 weeks after being diagnosed. I don’t want to end this on a sad note because that’s not what she was. An incredibly generous, beautiful and much loved lady. I wish I had a photo to share but once again, they are all in Houston. She was a great cook, a great entertainer, a great mother and wife, after all she put up with all of my dad’s crazy food whims. I miss her dearly but know that she would be so proud of this blog. I wish my children had known their grandmother (my mother in-law is not around either) because there is nothing like the love of a grandmother.

Since I mention my mother, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my late brother who passed away on March 14, 1982. He was 7 and died from complications from leukaemia. It’s been so long for him but I remember him clearly and in my memories he’s still the little firecracker he was back then. He was the second youngest of the children and I was 13 when I lost him. 

Yes, it’s a bit of a sad end to this post but my faith teaches me to cope with loss and I don’t get sad. I miss them but know they are in a better place. Thank you for thinking of them today. xx

Chap Chae Noodles

Chap Chae Noodles

Until just recently, I struggled big time with Chinese, Japanese, Korean and any other cuisine requiring stir frying of foods. I could whip up intricate French pastries and make a complicated Indian curry, but ask me to throw a few vegetables into a pan with some sauce without overcooking and over dousing, yeah, it was a Herculean task for me.

There was always something off; if the sauce was great then the vegetables were soggy, if the vegetables were great then the meat was colourless and rubbery. It was frustrating. For the longest time, I wanted to believe that it was the equipment I was working with and not me! It is a known fact that for a successful stir fry, one must have high heat to quickly sear meat and crisp cook the vegetables. It’s also known quite well, that domestic kitchen stoves do not have the power to attain the heat that is required. Also, if you use a wok, they cannot heat the wok evenly because of the dome bottom (you actually do learn something from watching Cooks Illustrated)

Chap Chae Noodles

I bought carbon steel woks and lovingly, took hours seasoning them and then, I bought large expensive fry pans when I was told they would suit the kitchen stove better. The stir fries got better, but they were still pretty erratic. I didn’t give up though! 

Back in April or May of last year, I came across an electric wok made by Breville in one of Williams and Sonoma’s catalogues. I checked online for reviews and ratings and found that it got excellent reviews. The wok has heating elements that heat the entire surface of the wok and so, the wok heats quickly and stays hot throughout the cooking process.

Chap Chae Noodles

Well, of course, I had to have it! I have to say, it’s one of my most used appliances in the kitchen. It’s perfect for so many things. The first week I had it, I think I used it everyday and it definitely paid for itself in a couple of months.

So, the improvement in my stir frying ability was definitely thanks to the electric wok! The heat is great at searing the meats and cooking the vegetables crisp tender. It’s a nice and spacious wok so you can toss large amounts of noodles and not make a huge mess. I’m not selling anyone on the wok but if you’re having trouble like I had, this might help you. You can use it for more than stir frying; I make Thai curries, Indian curries, Indian stir fries, it acts like an Indian cooking wok called a kadhi. 

Chap Chae Noodles

Anyway, so all that has nothing really to do with todays post! Yes, it’s a Korean special occasion dish, but for me it was more about how I could eat gluten free noodles that weren’t rice ones. I happened upon this recipe in a Saveur email and I went out the next day to my neighbourhood Asian store and took an hour to walk the aisles and decipher packages with the stuff I needed 🙂

The noodles used for this Chap Chae Noodles are made from sweet potatoes. They are delightfully chewy and retain their shape and don’t get gummy. I adapted the recipe to what I had at home but kept the seasoning the same. The Saveur recipe didn’t include any hot sauces or condiments and I think some additions would go perfectly with this. It’s a great noodle dish and I really love the noodles themselves. I love their texture and like most noodles, they themselves don’t have any flavour but absorb the flavours around them.

Chap Chae Noodles

Chap Chae

Serving size: 8

Calories: 358

Fat: 17g

Korean sweet potato noodles stir fried with sliced beef and vegetables.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb/455g beef sirloin or round, sliced
  • 1 lb/455g sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon)
  • 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 crowns broccoli, chopped in small florets
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • ½ onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce to marinate meat
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar to marinate meat
  • 4 tablespoons oil, neutral flavoured
Sauce
  • ½ cup/118ml soy sauce
  • ½ cup/100g brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Korean hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Soak the noodles in boiling water until they are tender, drain and keep to the side.
  2. Add the sliced beef to the sugar and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and allow to marinate.
  3. In a wok or a large skillet over medium high heat, add a tablespoon of oil and cook the onions, mushrooms and the peppers.
  4. Once they soften and are beginning to brown, add the broccoli and another tablespoon of oil.
  5. Cook the broccoli till crisp tender and then remove the vegetables to a bowl.
  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan.
  7. Drain the meat from the marinade and add to the pan with the garlic.
  8. Cook until browned about 4-5 minutes.
  9. Add the soy sauce and sugar and once the sugar is dissolved, add the vegetables back.
  10. If your pan is large enough, add the noodles to the pan and toss around.
  11. If not, then remove the meat and vegetables into the bowl with the noodles and toss through with your hands.
  12. Add the green onions, sesame oil and the sesame seeds before serving.
  13. Serve with lots of sriracha sauce or other hot sauce.

Chap Chae Noodles

I hope you try these noodles if you haven’t before. What are some things you guys struggle with? Have you succeeded in over coming the hurdles? I guess practice and perseverance (and good kitchen electrics) does make perfect!

Hope you’re all having an awesome week!

Curried Chicken Noodle Soup

curried chicken noodle soup-7

Yes, it is yet another soup recipe. I know that lately, with all these sub zero temperatures we’re having across the nation, there have been 101 soup posts. Well, I figured we needed a 102nd one because you need a different soup for each of the days 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s soup posts and it’s great to have so many choices when I’m ready to make soup again. A particular favourite I’m eyeing is Kitchen Riffs wonderful Harira.

curried chicken noodle soup-3

Actually, I really had no intention of sharing this recipe and I just made it for our dinner over the weekend while we watched the NFL playoffs, but it ended up being so good, that I changed my scheduled post to this soup one. Truth be told, I just really wanted to share my snow photos with you all and this was an excuse. These are in no way impressive in the amounts of snow fall, but I thought they were pretty cool.

chairs in the snow

Though Denver has not seen the bitter cold and the accumulation of the Midwest and Northeast, it’s still been quite cold, and when the snow starts falling, I like to eat slurpy noodles. I don’t know why I like noodles in cold weather, but I do, I think I mentioned that before when I made my Chicken Laksa, also on a very cold day.

grill in the snow

note the snow fell off the grill handle but froze in place

One of my must haves with soup that doesn’t have noodles is a loaf of nice, crusty bread. Alas, since I’m giving gluten free a try this month, bread is off limits. I can’t say that I’m seeing any benefit to the whole gluten free but I’ll stick with it for a while longer since I’m eating less and don’t feel so full. I suppose that’s a good thing.

curried chicken noodle soup-1

So, since there could be no bread with soup, I really had to have slurpy noodles. My choice for noodles were Chinese/Thai rice noodles. Try and get the ones made there since they are sturdier than the Thai Kitchen ones that totally disintegrate. My plan was also to have more of a noodle dish than a soup dish, more like a stew-soup. It worked out well since some of the kids wanted soupy and some wanted noodle-y. It can be adjusted very easily.

curried chicken noodle soup-2

The other comforting thing about this Curried Chicken Noodle Soup is the warm spices. The fragrant cinnamon, a touch of cumin and coriander, radiate a warming sensation as you eat it. It’s also full of soup vegetables and finished off with spinach that wilts nicely in the hot broth. Like all soups, it’s very versatile and you can add and minus any vegetables and meat. Leave the noodles 🙂 You need the comfort that slurping noodles brings.

The quantities below make a big batch but we ate it once and then enjoyed the leftovers the next day when it continued to snow.

curried chicken noodle soup-5

Curried Chicken Noodle Soup

Calories: 3047

Fat: 30g

delicious and warming soup with chicken, noodles and Indian spices.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (a whole chicken)
  • 14oz/397g pack rice noodles
  • 6 large carrots, sliced thin
  • 1lb/455g mushrooms, cleaned and chopped, medium size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 lb/455g baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 2 teaspoons corinader, ground
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • ½ teaspoon red cayenne powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 cups/3L chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or avocado oil
Instructions
  1. Start by browning the onions in the oil.
  2. When they are caramelised, add the garlic and ginger pastes and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Add all the spices.
  4. Cook about a minute in the oil.
  5. Add the carrots and the mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and and bring to a simmer.
  7. Break the rice noodles in half if desired, and add to the pot.
  8. Simmer the broth until the noodles are cooked through, 10-12 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken and heat through.
  10. Add the spinach and allow it to wilt.
  11. If the soup thickens too much after the noodles are added and cooked, thin out with some water or extra broth.
  12. Serve in bowls and look out for a noodle whipping.
Notes
I usually cook a whole chicken in my pressure cooker with an onion, a couple of celery sticks, a couple of carrots, peppercorns, and some garlic cloves and about 4 qts water. It takes about 25-30 minutes depending in your chicken size. Then I strain the broth and debone the chicken. The soup can be ready in an hour.

curried chicken noodle soup-4

Keep warm, everyone! Make lots of soup and turn on that oven and bake something fun!