Fresh asparagus stars in a quick-cooking, citrusy stir-fry with salmon

PROTEIN OF CHOICE: Seared Salmon With Citrus Asparagus Stir-Fry. Tom McCorkle/For The Washington Post

When everything turns green outside, I often find myself craving green on my plate as well. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw a fetching display of fresh asparagus. Maybe they caught my eye because I'd just come across a recipe for a citrus asparagus stir-fry that I wanted to try.

Eating foods in season isn't always possible, but when it is, it can make such a difference in availability, price and flavor. If asparagus is truly fresh from the garden, I like to eat it raw with a bit of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

My mother grew some once and I ate them straight out of her little vegetable patch. So good.

Maybe you can find something close to that at a farmers market while there's still time, but we are heading toward the end of this vegetable's peak of season.

Fortunately, asparagus are available year-round, and even if grocery-store stalks might be a bit tougher, they are excellent contenders for a quick and flavorful stir-fry like this one below. Just look for the stalks to be firm with closed tips. Thick or thin doesn't really matter but will affect cooking times. I prefer them al dente, so they still have a little snap.

Serve the stir-fry as a healthful, quick side with your favorite protein. I found the fresh ginger, cilantro, garlic and lemon in the vegetable complement salmon beautifully.

This searing method for salmon works perfectly for me every time. The cooking time varies a bit with the thickness of the fillet. If the salmon is fresh, I enjoy eating it on the rare side.

Seared Salmon with Citrus Asparagus Stir-Fry

(Stir-fry recipe adapted from Bon Appetit. May 2019. Salmon dish from recipe editor Ann Maloney.)

35 minutes

4 servings

A simple seared salmon fillet turns this light spring stir-fry into a meal. The herbs, peppers and seasoning for the asparagus can be adjusted to suit what you have on hand. Try crushed red pepper flakes in place of jalapeño and parsley in place of cilantro. Also try this stir-fry with a seared skirt steak, or a seared or baked tofu steak.

Storage notes: Store asparagus and salmon in separate containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


For the stir-fry

  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 medium jalapeño chile peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal about 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon, 1 generous teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems (about 1/2 bunch)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

For the salmon

4 (4- to 5-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided (may substitute extra-virgin olive oil)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, optional, for serving


Make the stir-fry

Slice 2 cloves of garlic into thin slices. Mince or grate the remaining 1 clove.

Heat a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeño, sliced garlic and olive oil, stirring constantly, until the garlic just begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still crispy, about 1 minute.

Add the minced garlic, lemon zest, the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant.

Remove the pan from heat. Transfer asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Make the salmon

Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Rub the sesame (or olive) oil over both sides of each fillet. Season the skin side with a pinch of salt.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the surface. Add the fillets, skin side up and cook until just lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the fillets over and reduce the heat to medium. Generously sprinkle the fillets with ground pepper.

Cook until the salmon looks almost cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes; you can check using the tip of a sharp knife or just by looking at the sides of each fillet, where you should see a slightly darker center. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet and the desired doneness. Remove the fish from the skillet and keep warm.

Divide the asparagus among four plates and top each with a salmon fillet. Serve with additional lemon on the side, if desired.

Nutrition | Calories: 381; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 60 mg; Sodium: 404 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 3 g; Protein: 27 g.


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