Category Archives: Salmon & seafood - Page 3

Pacific Sweet and Sour Salmon

You’ve just come home from work, you’re tired and hungry, and would like to eat in 20 minutes. How do you make a meal that’s easy and quick, but new and different?

The solution is to fry a meat and boil a starch, but use a tasty sauce to give variety to this most easily-cooked meal. One of our favorite sauces is something we call Pacific Sweet&Sour Sauce.

The Sauce

The essential ingredients are rice syrup for sweetness, lemon juice or rice vinegar for sourness, tarragon, rosemary, and garlic. An optional ingredient is any kind of chili powder for spiciness; we used the Vietnamese spicy sauce at top – this one happens to be Huy Fong Chili-Garlic Sauce and is made from chili, salt, garlic, and distilled vinegar.

Of course you can substitute: basil works well as a herb, and coconut milk is an excellent addition to the sauce. Fish sauce gives it a more Vietnamese flavor.

Dice the herbs and set them aside; mince the garlic and mix with the sweet, sour, and spicy ingredients:

The sauce is ready. We used about 1 tbsp rice syrup and juice of a full lemon.

Pacific Sweet&Sour Salmon

Removing the central bone from the salmon steaks speeds up cooking significantly, and finishes the meat when the skin is cooked to just the right crispiness. Here we’ve filleted, and put salt and pepper on, two salmon steaks:

We put a bit of coconut oil in the pan and cooked at medium-high heat.

When the color has changed about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the steaks, which may take 3-4 minutes, they’re ready to flip. After flipping cook another 2 minutes and add the sauce:

With the sauce in cook another 1 minute on one side, and flip again to finish for another minute. Add the herbs in this final minute:

Be sure to keep all the sauce when you transfer to a serving plate:

Pacific Sweet&Sour Pork Bellies

We like pork belly a lot: it is a tasty, fatty cut of pork, and we like the natural flavor better than processed bacon.

If you’re nervous about timing, you don’t have to cook everything together: you can pre-cook the meat, then add it back to the sauce.

Here’s an example. After cooking pork belly slices, remove the meat and add the Pacific Sweet&Sour sauce to the pan oil:

After a minute of heating and stirring, add the herbs:

Return the meat to the pan, mix, and serve:

Pacific Sweet&Sour Beef Liver

We find this sauce works very well with beef liver too:

Shou-Ching, who doesn’t like the taste of beef liver, is happy to eat this.

If you really dislike the taste of liver, you can further remove the liver taste by boiling the beef liver slices briefly before putting them in the pan.


This sort of meal is easily cooked in 20 minutes or so. Alongside the meat, we prepare a starch – usually rice cooked in our rice cooker or warmed in the microwave (one batch lasts us 2-3 days), or potatoes or taro boiled or re-heated in the microwave (again, we prepare enough for 2-3 days) – and serve assorted vegetables – for us, usually various flavors of kimchi and seasoned seaweed. Kimchi and seaweed require no cooking.

We’re having Pacific Sweet&Sour Mussels tonight, with coconut milk in the sauce. Create your own variations! They’ll all taste great.

Herb-Encrusted Salmon Cakes with Lemon Juice

We’ve been looking at cookbooks lately. We recently acquired The Garden of Eating by blogging stars Chef Rachel Albert (The Healthy Cooking Coach) and Don Matesz (Primal Wisdom).

The first thing one notices about this book is the impressive amount of effort that was put into it – 7 years, I’m told.  At 8.5” by 11”, 582 pages, it’s full of great recipes. Most pages present a single recipe plus variations.

The Garden of Eating synthesizes Paleo dieting with the foodways of traditional cultures. It begins with a discussion of Weston A Price’s survey of traditional cultures. From the Perfect Health Diet point of view, there are a few missing ingredients. There are recipes with potatoes or sweet potatoes, but no rice or taro. There are recipes with butter, but no cream. Still, potatoes and butter are a big step forward over some Paleo meal plans!

There are plenty of great dishes. We looked first for recipes with key Perfect Health Diet foods:

  • Salmon and beef are favored in our diet for their low omega-6 content;
  • Coconut milk and oil are favored for their ketogenic short-chain fats;
  • Lemons are favored for reasons I’ll discuss in an upcoming series on dietary ways to enhance immune function;
  • Herbs like oregano are favored for their antimicrobial activities in the gut.

We chose a recipe, “Herbed Salmon Cakes with Citrus,” that has a lot of these ingredients. Here is how we made it.

The Recipe

We doubled the size of the recipe, from 2 pounds salmon to 4 pounds, because we had a few college students at home for the holidays.

The recipe begins by pulverizing the fish in a food processor and combining it other ingredients in a bowl. We used a wok and here is the salmon with onion:

Other ingredients include fresh parsley leaves, minced celery, grated carrot, eggs, minced dulse leaf, herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper), lemon zest, some starch, and some broth.

We made two substitutions: for the starch we used tapioca starch, while the recipe calls for shan yao, arrowroot starch, or powdered rolled oats; and we used lemon juice in place of the broth, where the recipe calls for chicken broth or filtered water.

Here are the ingredients mixed in our wok:

The next step was to divide into portions, form into balls, and press into patties. The patties are then covered and refrigerated overnight, or at least for several hours.

The recipe calls for lining a 13x9x2 baking pan with unbleached parchment or using muffin tins, and arranging the patties on a lightly oiled surface. We used aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and greased it with butter:

We cooked for 15 minutes at 350ºF until the patties were opaque throughout. Here’s how they came out:

It appears our mix was a little too watery and bled a bit. Maybe the tapioca starch isn’t right for this recipe; or maybe we didn’t use enough seaweed. One of the variations was to replace the dulse with sea salt; we had a shortage of dulse and forgot to put in the sea salt, so perhaps that was the cause.

No matter; it tasted great. Here it is on a serving plate:

The recipe suggests dipping the cakes in one of the cookbook’s many sauces: Cajun Ketchup, Better Barbecue Sauce, herb infused Mayonnaise, or Tahini Tartar Sauce.

We found the cakes to be addictive:  the more you ate the more you wanted another.

There’s a lot to be said for this recipe, apart from its healthy ingredients. The marinade takes away most of the fishy flavor, and the herbs cover the rest, so this may be palatable even to those who dislike salmon. Also, the cakes are a very portable form of salmon, easy to pack for lunch at work; they can be eaten as finger food.


We give two thumbs up to the recipe and the cookbook. Here’s a link to its Amazon page: