Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stuffed Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

I don't mean to offend anyone, but I don't understand the popularity of cream cheese? Over the last year or so I've seen recipes for cream cheese in everything. Cream cheese in spaghetti sauce??? Arrrggghhh!

And what's the deal with cream cheese in sushi? {turning slightly green}

Obviously, I don't care for the taste of cream cheese. For me, it's a lot like Velveeta - an alien adopting a cheese form. It resembles cheese, but something isn't quite right. That's not to say that I don't use it occasionally. I use it for my cream cheese/onion spread for smoked salmon, but I cut the sweetness by adding low fat sour cream. So, you see, I walked into this recipe with a clear bias.

There are a lot of recipes out in the blogosphere for dishes similar to this and most of them use the same basic ingredients and measurements, including cream cheese. I knew I wouldn't use cream cheese and I initially made a little side-bar note to possibly use sushi rice for the stuffing because that's more like sushi. But when I finally got around to making the dish, I had about a cup of homemade ricotta leftover in the refrigerator and decided to use some of that instead of rice. I also used my own teriyaki sauce that I had saved in a bag in the freezer.

The key is to this preparation is to make certain the pocket in the salmon isn't too large and that you don't over-stuff the salmon because once the cheese gets hot it melts and an overabundance of cheese melts out into the baking dish. As you can see from the photos, I used too much stuffing. Had I used the rice, as I initially thought, it wouldn't have been a problem. But I don't think it would have been as tasty either.

Stuffed Salmon w Sriracha SauceStuffed Salmon w Sriracha Sauce

Then I got to the ingredients in the cream sauce. The basic ingredients for this sauce are universally Sriracha, mayo and sweetened condensed milk. I wasn't about to open a can of sweetened condensed milk for just a couple of tablespoons and wind up throwing the rest away. And just those three ingredients didn't sound all that appetizing together, so I made a couple of adjustments there, too. I loved the sauce for Bang Bang Shrimp, so I figured I'd use that sauce as the base for the sauce for this dish. So I mixed some mayo, Sriracha and Thai sweet chili sauce, which gave it the sweetness the sweetened condensed milk would have added. I also added a little soy sauce for a little salt and a splash of sesame oil (since sesame seeds are sprinkled on the salmon).

It worked. It all worked. The combination was so darn tasty - the marinated salmon, the not-too-sweet stuffing, the sweet/spicy Sriracha sauce, all of it sprinkled with the sliced green onions, served with steamed brown rice and stir fried Chinese pea pods. As my granddaughter would say, Yum-may.

Stuffed Salmon w Sriracha Sauce

Stuffed Baked Salmon with Sriracha Sauce

2 - 6 to 8 oz. salmon fillets, preferably center cut about 1-inch thick
1 cup Teriyaki sauce (recipe follows)
Sriracha Sauce (recipe follows)
3 - 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
2 green onions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

Place the salmon fillets in a zip-lock bag with the Teriyaki sauce and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour (I marinated mine for most of the day).

Preheat the oven to 400˚

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese and the 1/2 teaspoon of Thai sweet chili sauce and set aside.

Prepare a small baking dish by spraying well with cooking spray or thoroughly brushing with oil.

Remove the salmon from the marinade. Make a long slit in one side of each salmon fillet to form a pocket, being careful not to pierce all the way through. Stuff the pockets with about a tablespoon or so of the cheese mixture. Place the stuffed fillets in the baking dish. Sprinkle each fillet with sesame seeds. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through.

Remove each fillet to individual plates, drizzle with the Sriracha cream sauce and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

For the Teriyaki Sauce:

This is the Teriyaki sauce I used for Chicken Teriyaki, but it is the basic Teriyaki I use for everything from chicken wings to steaks.

1 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 cup beer
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced green onion
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Add all of the marinade ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the marinade to cool to room temperature before using to marinate meat or fish.

Place the chicken, meat or fish pieces in a large zip-lock type plastic bag. Pour the teriyaki marinade over. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least one hour. The flavor is best when the chicken or beef is marinated for several hours or overnight.

Any remaining unused sauce can be frozen for use at another time. Discard any used marinade.

For the Sriracha Cream Sauce:

1 tablespoon Sriracha
1/2 cup mayonnaise (use full-fat or lite)
1-1/2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk together until smooth. Adjust to your taste by adding more Sriracha or chili sauce.

Drizzle over cooked, stuffed salmon.

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