Salmon with a Thai Curry Sauce

April  6, 2013
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.