Sweet and Sour Salmon

Keith Chin cooking sweet and sour salmon at Nape Nape beach near the mouth of the Hurunui River, North Canterbury.
Keith Chin cooking sweet and sour salmon at Nape Nape beach near the mouth of the Hurunui River, North Canterbury.

Sweet and Sour Salmon – Cooking Your Catch in the Wok

With Keith Chin

Chinese cooking, one of the world’s greatest cuisines is probably the easiest to learn. The cooking utensils are the simplest, most practical and also the easiest to maintain. Today we are cooking one of my favourites, Sweet and Sour Salmon.

The wok is the most universally recognised utensil of the Chinese kitchen, along with a source of intense heat and rapid stirring. Gas is the only way to go as it produces an instant source of intense heat, as well as being extremely portable. It’s probably why I take mine when I go fishing.

Preparation in Chinese cooking has maximum preparation and minimum cooking. Pre-cooking is a common technique, especially when various ingredients used in a dish have different cooking times.

The common condiments in Chinese cooking are soy sauce, salt, sugar, sesame oil and oyster sauce. I prefer to use potato starch to cornflour as a thickening agent, which is added last to bind the juices of the dish to the condiments to give it that glazed look.

The other is monosodium glutamate (MSG for short) which is a flavouring agent which enhances the natural flavours of meats and vegetables. I prefer not to use it and savour the real taste of the dishes, instead of chemicals and some of their side effects.

Finally, Chinese cooking is not to memorise individual recipes but rather to master the concepts and techniques. The wok is so versatile, it may be used as a steamer, deep fryer, boiler or smoker and in the absence of the kitchen sink, you can even wash the dishes in it.

Recently one of the members of our fishing club, fishing out of Motunau and not very far from the Hurunui River Mouth for Blue Cod, used a small jig to hook and land a very silver salmon.

The next time you catch a salmon you may want to try something different. This happens to be my favourite dish.

Sweet and Sour Salmon

1 lb of salmon
1 medium size green pepper, cut into squares
1 medium size red pepper, cut into squares
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
A pinch of salt, pepper and five spice powder small tin of pineapple chunks
1/2 small telegraph cucumber, roll-cut
potato starch for coating

Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup of lemon squash
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt


Cut salmon into 1-inch (25mm) cubes and marinate with a pinch of salt, pepper and five-spice powder.

Heat oil in the wok, dip the cubed salmon into the beaten egg and roll in the potato starch. Deep fry till golden brown. Drain and put aside.

A handy hint. Deep frying a small amount at a time will ensure the batter will be crunchy and the salmon will be succulent.

Carefully pour the hot oil into a suitable container as it could be used again.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil to the smoking point till a faint blue smoky haze appears above the oil. Quickly stir-fry the already prepared vegetables and added the sauce ingredients. Thicken with a teaspoon of potato starch mixed into 1/3 cup of water.

Return the salmon back into the sauce, and serve immediately. For a perfect complement to this dish, serve with boiled rice and stir-fried vegetables.

Until next time. Keep your line wet and give this recipe a try!

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