Recipe: Cantonese Pan-Fried Salmon with Soy Sauce

This pan-fried salmon recipe was inspired by the classic Cantonese steamed fish. Although this is not exactly an ‘authentic’ dish, this fusion approach is more straight forward than the traditional recipe. It also retains the best part: the soy sauce, ginger, spring onions and coriander mix of flavours.

The entire process probably takes about 15 minutes. That is conveniently about the same time the rice takes to cook.

What is the Classic Cantonese Steamed-Fish?

Steamed fish is very common in Asian cuisine. Back home, we’re lucky we get to have it almost daily. However, to steam cook a fish, the fish needs to be very fresh. In Hong Kong, we get our fish from the local wet market on the day, and we often require it to be “still swimming”.

My favourite part of this traditional fish dish is that it is drenched in a delicious soy sauce mix, and topped with a generous amount of spring onions, coriander and ginger. This combination is especially delicious on top of some plain white rice.

Honestly, it’s quite simple to make once you get the hang of it. Now that I’ve moved to London, I do make steamed fish every now and then. However, the combination of handling a whole fish and buying a super fresh one, makes the process a bit more intimidating.

That’s partly why I started making the below simplified and easy version.

If you’re interested cooking steamed fish at home, check out this classic steamed fish recipe which has very detailed instructions.

A Recipe using Salmon Fillets – They’re Easy to Buy and Cook

Since I moved to London, my biggest obstacle to making steamed fish was the requirement to buy a fresh whole fish. Firstly, not all supermarkets have a fish counter. Secondly, I don’t go to the supermarket every day. In fact, since the start of Coronavirus, I’ve been limiting my supermarket visits to once per week.

So, in order to get a Cantonese-style fish fix, I started making this pan-fried salmon dish. The key differences to the traditional dish are:

  • I use salmon fillets, instead of a whole fish (whole sea bass)
    • Salmon fillets are easy to find in supermarkets, even the smaller “express” ones
    • They’re usually boneless
    • They’re easy to cook and handle
  • I pan-fry the fish instead of steaming it
    • The fish doesn’t have to be as fresh if you’re pan-frying it
    • The whole process uses one pan only

In general, it’s very straight forward to make, and only takes about 15 minutes in total.

Cooking times for Salmon Fillet

In the left-side photo above, I used two salmon fillets from the tail-end. They were about 2-3 cm at the thickest parts. For these, pan-frying for 4 mins in total was perfect.

For the fillets on the right-side photo, I pan-fried them for about 6 mins in total.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of this recipe. Remember to tag me on Instagram too!

Cantonese-Fusion Pan-Fried Salmon with Soy Sauce

This dish attempts to mimic the flavours of the classic Cantonese steamed fish which my family would always eat for dinner in Hong Kong. Using salmon and pan-frying the fish are two tweaks I made to create a more accessible and easy-to-control recipe.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 tbsp oil sunflower
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp ginger roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2-4 spring onions chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large handful of coriander roughly chopped

Soy sauce mix

  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Add 1 tbsp of frying oil (I use sunflower oil) to a pan. Pan fry the salmon fillets1 on high heat, for 4-6 mins2 in total
  • Remove salmon from pan and place them on a dish skin-side up. Use a dish that can hold sauce.
  • Add a bit more oil (½ tbsp) to the pan, fry ginger, garlic and spring onions for about 2-3 mins.
  • Pour in the soy sauce mixture. Be careful, as you'll hear a large "tsss" noise, and the mix will bubble vigorously away. This process takes 20 seconds.
  • Meanwhile, place the coriander on top of the salmon on the plate.
  • Pour soy sauce mix all over the salmon fillets.
  • Serve with white rice, to soak up all the delicious sauces.

Notes

  1. I recommend taking the salmon fillets out of the fridge about 1 hour before cooking, so they reach room temperature, and cook more evenly. This is when the cooking time is more accurate as well. If you don't have time for that, you might need to cook them for 1-1.5 mins longer.
  2. For salmon fillets which are approx. 4cm thick, I would cook them for 6 mins in total, for the tail-end of salmon fillets which are about 2-3cm thick, I would cook them for 4 mins in total. 
Keyword Fish, Fusion

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