This is, hands down, the most satisfying stir fry I’ve made. This could be in part because of the sheer volume of everything I put into it: paprika-dusted salmon, rice noodles, bean sprouts, baby corn, bell peppers, red onion all stir in a “umami” rich sauce. It also features vermicelli rice noodles, which are like the Asian version of “Angel Hair” Pasta. Yes, please. (I may or may not be eating these leftovers for the third day in a row as I type this while wallowing in the fact that I’ve almost eaten the entirety of the dish).
What is umami, you ask? Umami literally means savory/yummy in Japanese, and denotes a certain savory depth not found anywhere among the other tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). Fun fact: this was not an official taste until 2002. Then, MSG was then created to try and commercialize the “umami” sensation — a pointless move that denotes lazy cooking IMHO.
One of my new favorite meats is salmon. For a long, long, long time I was highly intimidated by this delicate and presumably expensive meat… until I discovered that grocery stores sell individually wrapped, boneless and skinless salmon portions for a relatively reasonable price. Game. Changed. It turns out that the delicate nature of the fish is precisely why I should love it: it thaws in minutes, easily infuses with flavors, and cooks in minutes. Plus, if you undercook it (like I’m notorious for doing with chicken), it’s just considered on the rare side and no one bats an eye.
I’m in the process of moving, so I decided to go ahead and use up the last of my salmon and try and put a dent in my pantry. This resulted in a longer ingredient list than this blog is used to, but fear not: this recipe will easily handle any and all substitutes you want. (No bean sprouts? totally cool. Carrots instead of baby corn? Go for it! Chicken instead of salmon… I bet that would be just fine!). Honestly, the magic is in the sauce. Please comment below and let me know how you end up preparing it!
A note before you begin to make this recipe though: this makes a lot of food. If you, like me, don’t have a wok handy (hello, moving), simply use a hot cast iron and transfer the vegetables to a separate bowl after you stir fry them (see recipe). You can combine them all at the end with little to no difficulty.
- 2.5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 orange bell pepper seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 cup baby corn, quartered
- 1 lb skinless, boneless salmon fillet
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 cup pineapple chunks
- 1 cup beansprouts
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp sherry
- 1 tsp sriracha
- ½ tbsp hoison sauce
- ½ tbsp cornstarch
- Place rice noodles in hot water and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Prepare all the vegetables. Rinse and dry the salmon, cut into inch-wide strips, and toss in a bowl with paprika.
- Heat up the oil on a large wok or iron skillet.
- While the oil is heating, mix together all ingredients for the sauce.
- Stir fry the onion, bell peppers, and baby corn for 5 minutes.
- Add the salmon and pineapple and stir fry for 2 minutes. (If your wok or skillet isn't big enough, remove the vegetables and set aside.)
- Add the beansprouts and rice noodles. (If you removed the vegetables, add them back in here)
- Add the sauce and cook until the juices start to thicken.
Debussy is known as a revolutionary in creating tonal “colors,” and if I could use one word to describe that to a non-musician, it would be… umami. This piece in regards to this salmon stir fry particularly fitting because the painting he’s harmonically woven together represents La Mer — the sea. Furthermore, Debussy, like many other composers at the time, was immensely influenced by the “exotic” music from Asia after hearing it performed at the world fair in 1889. and there are a few times that I can distinctly hear some “eastern” influence in this composition — fitting, again, for this stir-fry dish.
My favorite description of the piece is found in “Debussy and Nature”(The Cambridge Companion to Debussy), where Caroline Potter writes that Debussy’s depiction of the sea “avoids monotony by using a multitude of water figurations that could be classified as musical onomatopoeia: they evoke the sensation of swaying movement of waves and suggest the pitter-patter of falling droplets of spray”.