Salmon with a Thai Curry Sauce

April  6, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is another one of those lovely dishes, originally found in a magazine or newspaper, and adapted over the years to fit various cooks' tastes and needs. In spite of the slightly fussy fish poaching step, it's a remarkably simple dish that bursts with flavor. Sweet, spicy, salty, and funky, it has all the flavors you expect from Thai cuisine, but with salmon being the unexpected star. The flavorful sauce pairs marvelously with a fruity, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. —fiveandspice

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound salmon fillet (preferably wild caught), skin removed
  • 2/3 cup fruity white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 1/2-inch thick slice of fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass, chopped into chunks (if you can't find lemongrass, sub a long strip each of lemon peel and lime peel)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil
  • 3 teaspoons Madras curry powder (not Thai, I know, but it works)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Thai bird's eye or jalapeno pepper, speared in several places with a knife, but left whole (use up to 4 chilis for more heat)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (plus more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups peas (fresh or frozen will work)
  • 1 cup Cooked rice or rice noodles for serving
  • 1 handful Chopped cilantro and mint for garnish
  1. In a deep stovetop pan that will snugly fit the salmon (you may want to cut the fillet into two pieces), combine the wine with 1 cup water, the slice of ginger, chopped lemongrass, and 2 tablespoons of chopped green onion, plus a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a bare simmer. Slip in the salmon and cook until it is just barely cooked (it should be rare in the center). Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid and cut it into approximately 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the peanut or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped green onion and stir in the curry powder. Cook, stirring, until the curry powder smells toasted, about 3 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium, then stir in the garlic, ginger, and brown sugar. Cook until the garlic is softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Now stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, hot pepper(s), and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer the liquid for about 3 minutes.
  4. At this point, stir in the salmon chunks, gently breaking up a couple of them into smaller flakes. Cover the pan and cook, still over low heat, for 4 minutes. Uncover, and stir in the peas. Continue to simmer until the peas are just cooked through (3 to 4 minutes for frozen, about 4 to 5 for fresh). Taste and add more fish sauce (or salt) to taste.
  5. Serve the salmon and sauce over rice or rice noodles and sprinkle with chopped mint and cilantro to garnish.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • purplestar1019
  • BrettyJax
  • Scribbles
  • Sun Lee
    Sun Lee
  • MegB

26 Reviews

Linda D. June 6, 2021
Absolutely delicious! Thank you!
Julie March 14, 2020
This recipe was easy, fast and tasty! Kids don’t like peas so I substituted broccolini ( pre steamed) I also pan seared some scallops and presented both ( I didn’t add the scallops to the broth or the sauce ). Thank you!
purplestar1019 March 10, 2019
We make this frequently in our house--often doubling the recipe, then freezing 1/2 before putting in the salmon and peas for another easy dinner. Sometimes, we just roast the salmon until rare before adding to the curry, instead of poaching. Either way, it turns out great. It's a favorite. I don't find that the pierced chilis add that much heat, but we are using jalapeños.
ghainskom March 4, 2016
Very nice recipe that leaves room for a good quality piece of fish to "express itself". Appreciate the tip for substituting lemongrass, too.
BrettyJax February 25, 2016
Made this last night and can not get over how delicious it was. Everyone loved it! I followed the recipe to a T using very fatty salmon and was sure to just barely poach it. It was one of those times when it turns out better than you expected while looking exactly like the photos ;) can't recommend enough
Scribbles January 20, 2016
Had this for dinner last night - really good and easy! Wish I had remembered that someone posted they added red chili sauce as I would have liked the kick, However, it taste great just as written. I did add a bit more of all the savory ingredients to the poaching liquid and thought it imparted a nice settle flavor to the salmon. The consistency of the salmon was perfect with the curry. Oh, and I used a wild rice blend for the base which added a nice nutty flavor and a texture that might have been missing.
Sun L. July 12, 2015
I made this with wild copper river salmon (which was quite lean) and did the lime and lemon peel substitution for the lemongrass. The curry sauce was outstanding! Next time I'm going to try this with firm tofu.
Josie M. June 3, 2015
We loved this. I used Scottish salmon which is pretty fatty (ie, very tasty!) and cut the sugar to 1 T. Did the lemon and lime peel substitution too. Very good!
MegB April 6, 2015
I hardly comment on recipes but just had to say how fantastic this is. My husband made it for us, because I've been sick, and he is not the usual chef in our house... but the result is just delicious, and so flavorful. Thanks so much!
shortnsweet March 3, 2015
Tried this with a hefty teaspoon of red curry paste along with 2 teaspoons of the madras, it was lovely. Not sure if the poaching did that much for the salmon, taste-wise, that wouldn't happen if you just cooked it in the broth, but the end result was really tasty.
Hiromi M. December 16, 2014
This was very good! But I am not sure if I needed to cook salmon this way. Like somebody commented, I think I can just use grilled salmon and it would taste fine. I will make bigger batch next time and freeze half of it, so I can just add salmon or seafood, or shrimp to it.
Peggy H. July 8, 2014
Doesn't this make the Salmon well done? The recipe sounds great but we like our Salmon rare.
fiveandspice July 9, 2014
It does make the salmon well done. You could try cooking the salmon to taste and cooking the sauce separately and just pouring it over/serving it onthe side of the salmon.
Lisa Y. June 12, 2014
This worked well using grilled salmon leftovers as well, although next time I do that I will increase the quantity of all the spices and lime juice, and decrease the sweetener. (If using cooked salmon, avoid over-cooking by cooking it rare to med-rare the first time, then add with the peas and cook just until heated through.
Petite F. April 10, 2014
Ok, thank you. I didn't see it in the recipe before.
Petite F. April 9, 2014
Great flavor but when does the wine go in? should I have poached the fish in wine instead of the 1 cup of water as it mentions in the instructions?
Thank you..
fiveandspice April 10, 2014
You combine the wine with 1 cup of water to make the poaching liquid. But, it also totally works to poach the salmon in plain old water.
LaCeleste April 6, 2014
Is it OK to substitute garam masala for the curry powder? Never could quite figure out the difference...
fiveandspice April 6, 2014
No, garam masala is a very different blend of spices from curry powder. Curry powder has lots of turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, peppercorns, and a variety of other spices while garam masala is really heavy on the cardamom and cinnamon with some cumin and coriander and a couple other spices.
SE March 6, 2014
I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious. Was a little skeptical of the madras curry powder, but it tastes like a Thai curry (and I've made my share of curry pastes). Perfect weeknight dinner. We'll be enjoying it again in the future. Thanks for sharing.
fiveandspice April 6, 2014
AntoniaJames February 3, 2014
On my must-try list. I have some lemongrass stock (homemade, in my freezer) so this will be a snap. I know it's going to be a winner here. ;o)
JSP July 17, 2013
This looks perfect for a hot summer evening meal, will definitely try it!
fiveandspice July 18, 2013
It definitely is. Hope you enjoy it!
sel E. April 24, 2013
this looks absolutely gorgeous! must try soon!!
fiveandspice April 24, 2013
Thank you! It's one of our dinner staples. Definitely a favorite.