salmon cups 2 
P.F. Chang’s ain’t got nothin on this.  Taking the lettuce wrap to the logical next level, these salmon cups are a delicious main course.  The blend of fresh, bright aromatics offset the saltiness of the salmon, and the mild crunch of the cabbage leaf cools off the spice of red chiles. 

Makes: 4 entree-sized delights of joy
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb. skinless salmon fillet
  • 2 tbsp. low soduim soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. teriyaki marinade
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili oil
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped (find them in a can in the Asian isle of your grocery store)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. peanut oil (olive oil will work if you can’t find peanut oil)
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 head green cabbage, separated into whole leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Chinese barbeque sauce
  1. Pat the salmon dry.  Combine the soy sauce, teriyaki marinade and red chili oil in large ziplock bag.  Add the salmon and marinate, 5 minutes up to 4 hours.  I usually don’t have the patience for long marinating times, so I can attest that 5 minutes will still yield great results.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the green onion, garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, lime zest and sesame seeds in a small bowl and set aside.  If you want, you can coarsely chop all the fresh ingredients and pulse a few times in a food processor.  Just don’t overdo it – we still want the texture and crunch of the garlic and water chestnuts.
  3. Preheat a grill pan or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  Add the salmon and cook 2-3 minutes, covered.  Flip the salmon cook another 2 minutes or until done.  The sugars in the marinade will start to brown and caramelize immediately.  Don’t freak out if you see [what looks like] burning.  Everything will be OK.  When the salmon is done, set it aside to rest.
  4. In the same pan (if it is clean enough), heat the peanut oil until smoking.  Add the chopped fresh ingredients and the rice wine vinegar.  Stir fry until you can start to smell the aromatics.  You want to keep everything fresh and crunchy, so don’t cook past 1 minute.  Remove the fresh ingredients into a large bowl.
  5. Break the salmon unto small pieces using your fingers and add to the fresh aromatics.  Mix everything together.
  6. Divide the salmon mixture into four servings and spoon each serving into a cabbage cup.  Top with a drizzle of Chinese barbeque sauce and roll the cabbage leaf into a burrito shape.  Chow down!

This recipe also works great as an appetizer.  Substitute endive leaves for the cabbage, or even serve the salmon mixture in spring roll wrappers.  You’ll think twice before picking up the phone to order take out again.

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