Perhaps one of the most common entree salads that has appeared on menus within the past several years is some adaption of a Chinese Chicken Salad. The combination of the rising popularity in Asian fusion cuisine and the sweet, crunchy, and satisfying qualities of this type of salad have allowed it to find a place as a salad “classic”. This Saturday after spending a wonderful but exhausting afternoon on a boat at a sandbar in Miami, I reached the peak of cooking laziness and ordered Chinese take out. To be perfectly honest, it was terrible (maybe due to the nonexistent Asian population in Miami). However, I did manage to scavenge a packet of crispy noodles bits that I knew could potentially serve as the finishing touch of a Chinese themed salad. By saving these crispy noodles and buying a few more key ingredients at Publix, I managed to whip up what turned out to be large and flavorful Asian Salmon Salad.
The base of the salad and veggies included a bed of spinach, tomatoes, carrots, sugar snap peas, green onions, mandarin oranges, and champagne mangoes I purchased at the farmer’s market. I then sautéed the salmon with a bit of soy sauce and garlic. Just as the salmon finished cooking, I topped the hot fish with a small spoonful of brown sugar, flipped it over quickly, and let it caramelize into a nice crispy crust.
I made the dressing entirely from eye and taste so I truly have no idea what the ratios of ingredients were. Nevertheless, I included sweet rice vinegar, soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, some of the leftover liquid from the mandarin oranges, garlic, sriracha, and finally some blue agave and orange juice to add some sweetness.
The sweet mandarin oranges and slightly tart mangoes provided a good contrast to the spicy Asian dressing (I had somewhat of a heavy hand with the sriracha). Although this dish requires a good amount of produce variety, it is definitely worth the effort when it all comes together- much more satisfying and healthy than mediocre Chinese take out.