Prickly pear-glazed salmon with shiitake egg noodles

This idea sounds like a weird one from the get-go. What business does the fruit from a cactus have with fish, mushrooms, and Italian-inspired pasta? Well, truth be told, almost nothing at all. I wanted to prepare a dish that takes my Californian upbringing, my Asian heritage, and my love of making fresh doughs and sauces, and bringing all of that together into one. I wanted the Asian-Chinese sensibility to be at the forefront, so for my prickly pear sauce, it was more of a play on a sweet-sour-spicy profile, using the tangy flavor of the cactus pear with honey, vinegar, and pepper to help give the fatty salmon some complexity. For the shiitake noodles, I just wanted something with a ton of umami to compliment the flavor of the salmon, and give the dish a more comforting feel.

Something I grew up on were sesame noodles. A guilty pleasure of mine is basically drowning noodles in sesame paste and oil. So I wanted to do a play on that with the shiitake egg noodles. Caramelized shiitake mushrooms, sesame paste and sesame oil, and egg noodles, all in one bowl. That alone is amazing. I combined kale with the mushrooms, just to give the vegetables more body, but also so that there were more textures in the noodles themselves. For the noodles, I wanted to use more egg yolk than I normally would to create a richer texture in the dough; I personally hate using more egg yolks in my pasta dough because it becomes tougher to knead quickly, but with rest and patience, the end result is a much more luxurious finish on the noodle. It’s worth it, especially with a dish where comfort is the central theme.

For the salmon:
2 filets of salmon
prickly pear sauce
a pinch of salt
Olive oil

Remove scales and pinbones from salmon is the filets have those. Pat dry. Score the skin of the salmon and season both sides with olive oil and salt. In a hot nonstick pan, oil the pan and add in the salmon, skin-side down. Cook for 6 minutes on the skin side on medium-high heat, and the turn the salmon and cook on the other side for 30 seconds. Brush the sauce on all sides to finish.

For the prickly pear sauce:
Juice from 2 prickly pears
2 tablespoons black vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
a pinch of onion powder
1 clove black garlic
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper

Puree ingredients together and pass through a strainer. Reduce over medium-low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

For the noodle dough:
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
a pinch of salt

Combine ingredients together and knead into a dough. Allow to rest for 10 minutes so that the dough will become pliable. If using a rolling pin, roll out as thin as possible, and cut into noodles. If you are using a pasta machine, just roll out to the third thinnest setting. Boil in salted water for 1 minute.

For the kale and mushrooms:
4 leaves of dinosaur kale, stems removed
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
olive oil
a pinch of salt

With the mushrooms, bake in the oven on a lined sheet tray at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Heat up a pan with oil, season the mushrooms with salt, and saute over medium-high heat to caramelize. Wilt down the kale in the same pan.

For the sesame sauce:
3/4 cups tahini
1 tablespoon sesame oil
a pinch of salt

Literally just combine these ingredients together.

Toss the mushrooms and kale into the noodles, and then toss with the sesame sauce. Top with a filet of the salmon. Serve immediately.

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