This incarnation of iconic sweet-and-sour salmon stir-fry delivers fresher flavor and a much bigger nutritional boost to your diet than most take-out versions. Fast-cooking soba noodles are made with nutty-tasting gluten-free buckwheat—but some brands include wheat flour, so look for gluten-free soba made with 100% buckwheat. If you can’t find gluten-free soba, replace it with brown rice. Can’t tolerate salmon? Use chopped chicken, pork tenderloin or firm tofu instead.
Stir It Up
Follow these tips to get the most out of your stir-fry cooking.
For the best stir-frying, use a 14-inch carbon steel wok with a flat bottom and long wooden handle. With regular use, the wok will develop more of a non-stick surface. A 12-inch stainless steel skillet with high sides is a good alternative, but avoid non-stick pans since many can’t handle the heat. Preferably, use a thin, flexible metal spatula that can easily slip under foods in the pan.
Stir-frying is a fast-and-furious process, so practice mise en place, which is French parlance for having all your ingredients, including sauces, prepped and ready to go.
Use an oil in your pan with a high-smoke point, such as peanut, canola, rice bran, avocado or grapeseed oil. Before adding the oil, heat your wok to the point where water droplets vaporize on impact with the pan.
Follow the Leader
When stir-frying, start by cooking your meats, followed by denser vegetables like carrots, zucchini or asparagus and then delicate items such as leafy greens. Use only quick-cooking proteins, such as chicken breast, steak, shrimp, salmon, pork tenderloin or tofu. For even cooking, slice proteins and vegetables to a uniform size.
Over-filling your pan can bring down the heat, causing your ingredients to steam instead of stir-fry. This can lead to soggy (not crispy) veggies and meats that don’t obtain delicious browning. You always want to hear a sizzle, so don’t be afraid to cook in batches, if necessary. Spread meats in a single layer in your pan and let them sear undisturbed about a minute before stirring. This promotes caramelization (yum!) and reduces sticking.
Contributing chef Matthew Kadey, RD, is a registered dietitian and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press), The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook (Ulysses Press) and Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure (VeloPress).Yields 4 servings
- 3/4 pound uncooked gluten-free soba noodles
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free tamari or liquid coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil or canola oil
- 1 pound skinless center-cut salmon, sliced into 1-inch chunks
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1 large orange bell pepper, sliced
- 3 scallions (green onions), sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 1⁄2 cups mango chunks
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews or sunflower seeds
1In a pot of salted boiling water, prepare soba noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse well.
2In a bowl, whisk together orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar and cornstarch.
3Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Season salmon with salt and pepper and add to pan. Heat 3 minutes or until just barely cooked through. Remove salmon from pan and set aside.
4Add broccoli to pan and heat 2 minutes. Place orange pepper, scallions, garlic and ginger in pan and stir-fry 1 minute, until peppers are slightly tender. Add salmon, mango chunks, cashews and orange juice mixture to pan. Gently toss everything together and heat 1 minute more, until liquid has thickened.
5Divide soba noodles among serving plates and top with salmon stir-fry.