Chef Mark Gaier got hammered for making this dish on Top Chef Masters, but we fixed his problem … we actually cooked the salmon instead of serving it raw on the inside. I love a good piece of salmon and I really love crispy Chinese noodle cakes. There was a restaurant in Minneapolis called Yummy that made *the best* crispy noodle cakes and I am still very, very sad it closed. Those noodle cakes haunt my dreams. So imagine my delight when Chef Gaier made all of my favorites for the Top Chef Masters wedding episode! Here’s how we took his sesame-coated salmon with egg noodle cake (original recipe here) and made it home cook-friendly.
First, gather your ingredients:
Note: You see more (and different) ingredients in the photo than you see on the ingredient list. There’s a reason for this, read on.
Two salmon filets (or one large filet cut in half)
1 TB sesame seeds
1 TB black sesame seeds
1 TB salt
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1 package dried Chinese egg noodles
1/2 can bamboo shoots, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp Sriracha (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1/4 cup Ponzu sauce (we like Kikkoman Ponzu with lime) (If you don’t have ponzu, you can combine three parts soy sauce to one part lemon or lime juice)
1 tsp Sesame oil
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Boil water and cook Chinese egg noodles until *just* done (about 5 minutes). Whisk eggs together, combine all ingredients for noodles, toss everything into noodles using your hands.
Spread noodle mixture evenly onto sheet pan (we lined ours with nonstick foil) and put into oven until crisp and golden (about 20 minutes).
While noodle cake is cooking, sprinkle with salt and oil. Coat evenly with sesame seeds and press onto salmon with your hands.
Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until just cooked through (be careful not to overcook).
When salmon and noodle cake are in the oven, mix ponzu and sesame oil and stir thoroughly. When the salmon is cooked through and the noodle cake is golden brown, remove from oven and cut the noodle cake into squares. Drizzle the sauce over the noodle cake and the salmon and you’re ready to eat.
This was … good. As I was mixing the noodles with the other ingredients I was kind of wondering where the flavor was going to come from and the cake was nice and crispy, but kind of bland. The salmon was nicely cooked, but lacked a punch beyond the crisp sesame seeds. We actually made the sauce that accompanied the original recipe and when K tasted it he said it was, “Interesting.” I took a bite and was less diplomatic so he stepped up and saved the day with his quick Ponzu sauce. That’s where the bulk of the flavor for this dish came from and that’s a lot of pressure to put on sauce.
Would we make this again? Probably not. It was good, not great and our time in the kitchen is precious. We strive for great whenever we possibly can.
Soundtrack: The Traveling Tap mix K made for our ride on the awesome contraption.