Angel hair pasta with zesty honey lime teriyaki salmon

I left home from Mt. Tangkuban Perahu around noon last Thursday and because of the severe traffic jam on the toll road, what would normally take 3 hours ended almost 6.5 hours. It was brutal traffic and I think it will continue to get worse with improving economy.

Being hungry and tired, I needed something easy to prepare. So, I took a slice of salmon fish from the freezer and cut it into cubes roughly about 2.5 cm (1 inch) by 1.3 cm (1/2 inch). There is an explanation why I cut it into cubes. In physics, the larger the surface area of an object, the quicker it is to achieve new thermal equilibrium with its surrounding. Cutting the salmon into cubes essentially creates larger surface area. Indeed, the salmon was thawed in about 15 minutes in my neck of the wood with daily temperature ranges between 25 deg C (77 deg F) in early morning and 35 deg C (95 deg F) in the afternoon. Furthermore, I always have the kitchen windows wide open, which I think is the beauty of living in a tropical area compared to living in a four-season area.

An inch cube is just right for me, because I enjoy the texture of the fish as I gently sink my teeth into the fish meat, while still being able to thaw it rather quickly. Double benefits!

As soon as the salmon is thawed

  • Into a bowl, I poured about 1 1/2 tablespoons key lime juice, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce. I added an extra dash of salt to season it.

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  • I prefer to use key lime juice because it gives out a hint of tangerine flavor on the fish while still provides for the fresh, tangy taste. You may use the standard lemon juice or even lime juice as in some Mexican recipes.
  • I stirred the marinate with the cube salmon in the bowl well before gently pressing the fish down so that it is completely covered by the marinate.

While the salmon is being marinated, I prepared

  • Boiling water for the pasta. Note that to save some time, you can do some of the steps below while the fish is being thawed. The boiling water and the simmering sauce are quite forgiving when you use the lowest heat setting on the smallest burner.
  • While I wait for the water to boil, I fine-chopped 3 medium cloves of garlic (about 15 g). This took about a minutes. It should even be quicker if you use garlic crusher. Note that unless you prefer strong garlic flavor, 3 cloves are enough for me, because the pre-made marinara sauce already has garlic in it.
  • I set a non-stick frying pan on the lowest heat setting on top of the smallest stove burner, added about 1/8 inch slice of unsalted butter into the frying pan and added 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. The flavor coming out of the mix between butter and extra virgin olive oil is just awesome. This is one of the best aroma coming out of a kitchen.
  • Then, I dropped the garlic and sprinkled some crushed black pepper and dried oregano.
  • I waited until the garlic started to sizzle and I can smell the beautiful aroma from the herbs. At that point, I added about 200 g (about 7 tablespoons) of my home-made marinara sauce and stirred it until it is completely blended with the herbs. Let it simmer at the low heat.
  • Note that I continued to use the same lowest heat setting as before. There is no need to increase the heat.
  • By now or soon, your water should be boiling. I grabbed a bunch of angel hair pasta and dropped it into the boiling water. The amount of sauce I prepared is enough for a 3/4 inch tight bunch of angel hair pasta. Usually, I broke the bunch right in the middle so that the “noodle” is not too long making it easier to consume.
  • Contrary to the typical technique, I do not add oil into the boiling water. Instead, I gently stirred the pasta continuously until it started to soften. At this point, the pasta will not lump together and the water would already start boiling again. Angel hair pasta cooks very quickly. Since I enjoy feeling the texture when I bite into the pasta, I make sure that I don’t over-cook it.
  • While the pasta is boiling, I checked on the taste of the sauce, adding salt and sugar to fit to my taste.
  • As soon as the pasta is cooked, I drained it well and dropped it onto the simmering sauce before I turned off the burner.
  • I stirred the pasta in the sauce so that it is well-coated with the delicious marinara sauce, before transferring it onto serving plates.
  • Note that it is a good idea to finish the pasta first so that the deliciously fresh tomato sauce is slowly absorbed into the noodle while the salmon is being cooked.

Having said that,

  • I melted 1/8 inch of unsalted butter on a non-stick pan at lowest heat on the smallest burner. If you enjoy buttery flavor, add another 1/8 inch butter.
  • as soon as the butter started to sizzle, I dropped the salmon. Once in awhile, I stirred and turned it so that it was caramelized on all sides of the cube.
  • The key lime juice would evaporate and the honey, teriyaki sauce would thicken as it glazed the cooked salmon. Note that fish is quick to cook. This should take no more than just a few minutes. If you like your fish to be firmer, then add a couple more minutes.
  • As soon as the salmon was fully cooked and caramelized on all sides, I shut the heat and transferred the salmon over the angel hair pasta.
  • If the finished dish is not hot enough, you can heat it for about 30 seconds in a microwave oven.
  • I usually sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese. Cheese is such a versatile ingredient especially on pasta dishes. It adds another dimension of pleasure into the pasta dish.
  • Add a side salad with your choice of dressing and you have a very healthy meal.

Bon appetite, my friends! Enjoy it with a glass of Chardonnay and you will have a merrier meal…even better with a good movie on Netflix. Nevertheless, as with any hearty meal, having a great meal companion is most important! Cook more and share. Happiness shared is double the happiness.

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