I love Asian food. I think I first discovered I had a penchant for sticky, sweet, umami goodness when I visited Thailand for three weeks back in 2005. I remember going to the famous Cabbages and Condoms restaurant (more delicious than it sounds) and feasting on a beef with ginger in a oozing slick of soy, scattered with coriander. It was then that I felt like I was onto something.
Fast forward to 2008 and my five months travelling around India, Japan and China opened up my mind (and mouth) to a dance of countless other flavours, many of which I’d never experienced before. Then after two and half years of living in Sydney between 2008 and 2011, and gorging on the city’s never ending supply of Asian/Australian “fusion” food, followed by a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in 2012, I was officially hooked on Asian cuisine.
It’s fair to say that since my heady travelling and Sydney-dwelling days, my love for Asian food has if anything, grown. My larder draws and cupboards are bursting with weird and wonderful packets and jars from Chinese supermarkets; from turmeric and tamarind paste, to gochujang and rice paper wrappers. Asian food makes up at least 50% of the meals we make for ourselves at home.
Below is a VERY simple recipe, the sauce of which uses a combination of ingredients most people would find in their cupboard and fridge. I use variations of this sauce in stir fries too – I might add a little stock and cornflour to create a sauce for a stir fry, for example. It’s the perfect “one size fits all’ Asian sauce. Once you’ve cracked it, you can keep using it again and again whether you want to cook vegetables, beef, pork or chicken.
Ginger & soy aubergine with salmon
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce, or normal soy)
1 clove of minced garlic
Once inch of peeled grated ginger
Juice of 1 lime
2 salmon fillets (I get mine from Tarbett’s in Wetherby or at Leeds fish market)
1 tbsp coconut oil
Coriander and chopped spring onions to garnish
Mix one tablespoon of tamari or soy, one tablespoon of honey, the garlic, ginger and the lime juice in a small bowl. Place the salmon fillets in a separate larger bowl and pour over the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours – at least two is ideal.
Pre-heat an oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4. Cut the aubergine in half and use a knife to create a shallow criss-cross pattern in the flesh. Line a baking tray with foil and put the aubergine slices on it, skin side down. In a small bowl mix the remaining tamari and honey with the olive oil and pour this over the aubergine halves, using a teaspoon to push the sauce into the crevices. Throw over a couple of pinches of chilli flakes, to your taste, and some black pepper, and bake in the oven for about 25 mins.
Once the time is up, remove the baking tray from the oven and put the salmon fillets on it skin side down. Bake all together for another 10 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked. Serve the salmon alongside an aubergine slice with some brown basmati rice. Scatter over the coriander and spring onions, and devour with gusto. I also like serving this with some simple steamed broccoli. If you’re feeling naughty, whack some Sriracha sauce over it, you won’t regret it.