Using commercial curry paste and canned coconut milk makes this recipe fast and easy to prepare. The complex, spicy sauce is a perfect match for rich salmon fillets. It would also be good with roasted chicken thighs or pork tenderloin.
- 2 6-ounce salmon fillets
- Pinch white pepper (fresh ground)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste (commercial or homemade)
- 1 to 2 kaffir lime leaves (see note)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
- Optional: 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Garnish: 1 tablespoon bell pepper (red, diced)
- Garnish: 1 tablespoon basil (cut into chiffonade)
Season the salmon fillets with white pepper and brush with soy sauce. Set aside while you make the sauce.
In a small saucepan, heat enough coconut or vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the curry paste and stir to break up. (Be careful; the paste may splatter.) Add the lime leaves and continue cooking for a couple of minutes or until the paste is very fragrant.
Add the coconut milk and stir to distribute the paste in the milk. Simmer the sauce until it has reduced by about a third. Taste and add sugar and fish sauce to balance the flavors if necessary. With the Mae Ploy brand of curry paste, a teaspoon of each enhances the flavor. Cover the pan and keep the sauce warm while you cook the fish. If the sauce becomes too thick or is too spicy for your taste, add a couple more tablespoons of coconut milk.
To cook the fish, heat a thick coating of oil in a skillet large enough to hold both fillets without crowding. When the oil is shimmering, carefully place the fish in the skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish (3 minutes for 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick fillets; 4 minutes for 1-inch). Turn the fish and cook the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Drizzle with the warm curry sauce and garnish with the bell pepper and basil. Serve with plain or coconut rice.
Because salmon is a relatively rich fish, a 6-ounce fillet is a fairly substantial portion, but choose the size depending on your appetite. You may prefer 8 ounces.
Kaffir lime leaves can be found at Asian markets and some well-stocked produce markets. If you can't find them, the sauce will still be good without them, but do try them if you can. Leftover leaves can be frozen or used in this lime cordial.
Use the rest of the coconut milk in curry noodles or other Thai dishes. It can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for up to a month (although it may separate slightly, the flavor is unaffected).