Lightly Poached Salmon in Thai Red Curry Sauce

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fillets being poached in the pan
It is interesting to note the colorful names which Thais give to some of their curries. Literally. Red Curry, Yellow Curry, Green Curry. This is mirrored in their politics- red, yellow...

I had some bottles in my larder for some time, coming in red and green. Since I had to cook a dish at a coming Alpha Course, salmon lightly poached in Thai red curry came to mind.(I have since then posted another Thai recipe - Roast Duck in Red Curry Sauce which contains more info on good Thai paste which you can get here...)

This is a recipe inspired by my favorite Thai cookbook by Chef McDang, with of course, some home and local adaptation. If you want to begin to understand Thai cuisine, this book is a good place to start with. 

This dish looks great, and you can get it cooked in less than 30 minutes, including preparation time. Salmon is readily available, and you can get them at super-marts, filleted and individually packed. This should be an easy dish for most.

Lightly poached, with the flesh tender and moist, salmon filleted sideways and de-boned, tastes great when accompanied by a thick creamy sauce. And best of all, you won't choke on any fish-bone. Curry does a great secondary job of concealing killers-if-stuck-in-your-throat bones. According to my bro-in-law, an ENT (and head & neck too) surgeon, he gets good business from fish head curry lovers. But this Alpha Course has no intention of sending any of their guests to him.    

Cilantro roots
I added something which some would discard: cilantro roots, arguably, the better half of coriander plant. Since I am garnishing with coriander leaves, I might as well use up the stems and roots. Cilantro roots are quintessential to Thai pastes, marinades and dishes. But you can consider it optional if adding it makes this dish "uneasy" for you. 

Recipe for Lightly Poached Salmon in thick Thai Red Curry Sauce

3 Tbsp of Thai red curry paste
2 Salmon fillets (de-boned)
1 Coconut cream
1 tsp Fish Sauce (for the saltiness)
1 tsp Palm Sugar (or sugar)
3 Tbsp oil
2 stalks of Cilantro roots (pounded finely to release the oils)

Kaffir lime leaves - finely diced
2 Red chillies, thinly sliced

  1. In a frying pan on low heat, add the oil. After it is heated, add the curry paste and cilantro roots. You need to have sufficient liquid to poach the salmon. If your paste is watery, that should be fine. If not add some water or coconut milk. Fry the sauce for about 10 mins or till it is fragrant.
  2. Add the fillets skin side up. Don't crowd the fillets in the pan, allowing for space in between. After 3 minutes, gently turn over the fillets and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lift out the fillets. Be careful not to break up the fish.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut, palm sugar and fish sauce to the remaining sauce. Adjust the taste if necessary.
  5. When the dish is ready to serve, spoon the hot sauce over the fillets. Garnish with the chilli strips and Kaffir lime leaves ( or coriander leaves)

Serve it skin side up. Looks pretty, eh? Just remember not to overcook the fish.

It can be served as a stand-alone dish with steaming rice, especially if adequately garnished with coriander. This dish is best served warmed. Spoon the heated sauce just before you serve.

Salmon cooked this way can work with most type of curries which goes with seafood. Indeed, there are many colorful ways to adapt this dish.

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  1. Is it easy to get the thai curry paste from local supermarket? If include pineapple, will it taste good?

  2. Yes, it is easy to buy from super marts. Get the brand "Dancing Chef" but most brands should be ok. I am not sure re pineapple but give it a try. It will add sweetish soury taste but should work.

  3. Thanks for replying. Did you post soya bean chicken in fb? I tried. Mine has a bit more gravy as the chicken will not be burnt and it also cook faster. Taste delicious! You have a great mum that can influence you to cook so well!

  4. Hi Anon- Yes, in did post some simple recipes there on FB. Glad you tried and improved on it!

  5. This is quite so easy to prepare yet, it looks appetizing. Maybe I have to include this recipe on our list. I am always looking for other dishes to offer our catering clients.