Eric Akis: Teriyaki salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and snap peas

Eric Akis

In the winter, for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of fish dinner, I enjoy roasted salmon fillets with mashed potatoes. I’ll often season the fish with tarragon or another herb, and, when it’s cooked and plated, top it — and the potatoes — with a rich French-style mustard cream sauce, spiked with white wine.

That combination is tasty, but I recently wondered how else I could serve the salmon and mashed potatoes. Finding a tube of wasabi paste in my refrigerator inspired me to think something Japanese in style could work, and it deliciously did.

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I decided to mix some of that wasabi into my mashed potatoes. That tinted them a pleasing light-green colour and gave them a mildly spicy flavour that I also bolstered with stock and green onion.

Those potatoes proved to be the perfect place to set a piece of roasted, teriyaki-style salmon. The moist salmon’s sweet and salty accents married nicely with the hints of wasabi in the potatoes. And, to add more colour to the plate, I served the fish with snap peas, stir-fried with orange, sesame and ginger.

The recipes for this meal, which serve two, are below. If you’re serving more than two, simply expand the recipes as needed. Serve the meal with sake, Japanese beer or green tea.

Roasted Teriyaki Salmon

Moist and appealing fish, marinated, roasted and glazed with sumptuous sweet and salty flavours. Serve the salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and snap peas with sesame, ginger and orange recipes that follow.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: About 18 minutes

Makes: Two servings

1/3 cup soy sauce (I used Kikkoman brand)

2 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp mirin (see Note 1)

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp cornstarch

2 (6 oz/170 g) salmon fillets

• wasabi mashed potatoes and snap peas with sesame, ginger and orange (see recipes below)

Place soy sauce, water, sugars, mirin, garlic, ginger and cornstarch in a small pot and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium high-heat. Simmer this teriyaki sauce one minute, until lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the salmon in a sided dish just large enough to hold the fillets in a single layer. Pour in half the cooled teriyaki sauce and turn the fish to coat. Cover, refrigerate and marinate the salmon for one hour, turning occasionally. Cover remaining teriyaki sauce in the pot and set it aside for now.

When fish has marinated, preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Set in the fish, skin-side down. Spoon the leftover marinade over fish. Bake the fish eight minutes. Spoon and baste fish with the sauce that’s dripped into the bottom of the pan. Bake salmon five to seven minutes more, or until just cooked through (see Note 2).

When salmon is cooked, set the remaining teriyaki sauce in the pot over medium-low heat and bring to simmer again. Mound some wasabi mashed potatoes on each of two warm dinner plates. Set a piece of salmon on the potatoes on each plate. Now set some of snap peas with sesame, ginger and orange on each plate. Drizzle the fish and potatoes with the teriyaki sauce in the pot, and serve.

Note1: Mirin is a sweet rice wine sold in the Asian foods aisle of many supermarkets. You’ll also find it at Asian food stores.

Note 2: When cooked, the centre top of the salmon will feel slightly firm. Too soft means it’s not cooked through, too firm and it’s overcooked. When cooked, the fish will also start to very slightly separate into flakes and a white protein may seep out from the flakes.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes flavoured Japanese-style. These are mildly flavoured; if you want a spicier taste, simply mix in more wasabi paste.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 18 to 20 minutes

Makes: Two servings

1 1/4 lb yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 Tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup warm vegetable or chicken stock or broth (see Note 1)

1 tsp wasabi paste, or to taste (Note 2)

1 green onion, halved lengthwise, and then thinly sliced

• salt, to taste

Place potatoes in a small to medium pot and cover with a generous amount of cold water. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Now lower the heat until water is just simmering (small bubbles should just break on the surface). Simmer potatoes until very tender, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes well, then use a potato masher to thoroughly mash them. Vigorously beat in the butter, stock, wasabi paste and green onion. Season the potatoes with salt and they are ready to serve.

Note 1: You can melt the butter and warm the stock together in a bowl in the microwave, or in a small pot on the stove.

Note 2: Wasabi paste is sold in small tubes at most supermarkets and at Asian food stores.

Eric’s options: You could prepare the potatoes up to a day before needed. After preparing them, transfer to a bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate potatoes until ready to reheat in the microwave and serve with the fish.

Snap Peas with Sesame, Ginger and Orange

Bright green snap peas, blanched, and then stir-fried and flavoured with sesame oil, orange juice and fresh ginger.

Preparation time: Five minutes

Cooking time: About four minutes

Makes: Two servings

18 to 20 snap peas, stem ends trimmed

1 1/2 Tbsp orange juice

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 tsp vegetable oil

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a small pot of water to a rapid boil. Add the snap peas and cook and blanch them one minute, until bright green and crisp/tender. Drain well, cool peas in ice-cold water, and then drain well again.

Place the orange juice, sesame oil and ginger in a small bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet set over medium-high. When hot, add the snap peas and stir-fry one minute. Now add the orange juice mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook until the orange juice reduces and a lightly thickened sauce forms around the peas, about one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then serve.

Eric options: You can blanch the peas many hours before serving. Keep them refrigerated until ready to stir-fry and flavour with the orange juice mixture.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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