What happens when you pair a handful of chefs from around the planet with some of the best wild seafood in the world? You get heated competition as well as stellar dishes.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute recently hosted a group of chefs from France, the UK, Germany, Spain, Japan and China for a wild seafood cook-off. In the AVTEC kitchen in Seward, there were so many outstanding and creative dishes, but I was drawn to this quick and easy recipe from Chinese chef Zeng Zasheng.
Zasheng calls it "Hong Kong-style spicy salmon with garlic." The trick is to make sure the oil gets hot enough to flash fry the salmon without burning it. The chef then adds both fried garlic and fresh garlic. I like adding sliced lemon and a fresh chili as well.
Hong Kong-style spicy garlic salmon
About 3 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or peanut for frying
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound wild salmon, skin and pin bones removed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 lemon, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 fresh serrano or jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, thinly sliced
1. Heat oil to 360 degrees in a large heavy-bottomed pot or wok. Combine cornstarch, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Add the salmon cubes and lemon slices and toss to coat. When oil is hot — test by tossing in some flour or a cube of bread; it should dance and float right away — add the salmon and lemon slices, shaking off any excess cornstarch. Cook, tossing frequently with a slotted spoon or spider, until crisp and golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Carefully remove all but about 1/2 cup of the oil. Bring back to about 350 degrees and add the chopped garlic and pepper flakes. Cook, tossing quickly, until golden but not dark brown and burnt. Add the fresh garlic slices and serrano slices and cook about 30 seconds. Add the salmon back to the hot seasoned oil and cook another minute or so, tossing all the ingredients together. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Serve hot with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or your favorite cocktail sauce.