Heating the wok
We’ll set our stove to medium high and let our wok heat up.
Unlike other Chinese recipes, with salmon, it’s important that the wok gets hot enough but not too hot. It’s difficult to give an exact amount of time, since it depends a lot on your stove and cookware.
My dad relies on his own intuition that he’s developed over 50 years of cooking. For the rest of us, he waited about 2-3 minutes on this current setup.
Cook the salmon
Then, we’ll add corn oil (2 tbsp), and swirl it around the wok.
The wok and the oil should be hot enough once the oil starts shimmering, or making ripples.
Once this happens, we’ll add our salmon to the wok.
My dad had just enough room for 8 fillets, so try not to overcrowd your wok and consider cooking in multiple batches if necessary.
The total cooking time for the salmon also varies depending on how hot your stove is, how thick each fillet is, and what type of pan or wok you’re using.
On my dad’s current setup, which has less heat output than a gas stove, he cooked each fillet for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, generally not flipping the salmon over more than once.
For a visual cue, once the salmon fillet starts to turn more white / yellow-ish, you can flip it.
You should be able to tell if the salmon is done if it easily flakes, though you can cook it to your preferred level of doneness. If you wanted to get more precise, you can also insert an instant-read food thermometer into the thickest part of the salmon.
As long as it’s cooked enough, the rest is just a lot of trial and error to find the texture of salmon that’s perfect for you. My dad tends to prefer salmon that’s more medium or well-done, so if you prefer something more rare, then adjust accordingly.
Kenji from the Food Lab has a great blog post and video with a bunch of helpful tips on how to pan fry salmon. Not all of these tips apply to this specific recipe, but it’s still a great resource, and I’ve linked to it in our description.