Juicy strips of crispy-skinned salmon drenched in a thick red curry sauce.
A few weeks ago, I had just finished a scrumptious and fairly generous main course at a nice restaurant when a lovely waitress proffered me the dessert menu. ‘Any room for pudding?’ she asked with a knowing glint in her eye. I must give off that kind of vibe, the one that reads as yes, this is a woman who cannot resist dessert. I scanned the menu and made my choice without hesitation. ‘The rhubarb crumble for me, thanks,’ I said.
I just love rhubarb. I love its tartness and the way that it becomes al dente when it has been cooked. But this adoration is a relatively recent development and I sometimes chuckle when I think of how 10-year-old me would have balked at the idea of a rhubarb-based dessert, let alone chosen it with such gleeful anticipation.
I was never a super picky eater, but like many others I can look back and see a whole list of things that I avoided when I was a kid, only to become a big fan as an adult. Olives, tomatoes, gherkins… and even the star ingredient in today’s recipe: salmon. I must have been in my late-teens before I really grasped the awesomeness of salmon. Where Mum and Dad loved salmon sashimi, I used to find it slimy and texturally icky. And one time, I had a bad experience with some simultaneously undercooked and overcooked buffet salmon that really turned me off the pink fish.
But a few years later when I finally learned how to pan-fry fish properly, so that the flesh is just-cooked and the skin is uber-crispy, I had a complete turnaround. Now I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy my beloved pan-fried salmon. Today is Thai New Year (Songkran), so what better way to celebrate than by rustling up crispy-skinned salmon with some serious Thai flair? In this recipe, we’re putting another Dumpling Sisters twist on a midweek favourite, Thai red curry. It’s so simple too, just a nice piece of salmon fillet paired with a rich, fragrant red curry sauce. These two make excellent bedfellows because they’re similarly big and bold in flavour, so they both stand their own while complementing each other.
For our sauce we blend Blue Dragon’s nifty little red curry paste pot with a handful of other punchy ingredients. This makes enough flavoursome sauce to drizzle liberally all over the fish and the rice. And to top it all off, we have a final burst of freshness with a speedy Thai basil and chilli garnish. I love dishes like this that are easy but feel quite special. It’s perfect for a date night in, great for the warmer weather that’s approaching, and also ideal for impressing the salmon-lover in your life (which may well be yourself!)
Red Curry Salmon
By the Dumpling Sisters
Serves 2, with rice
2x skin-on, boneless salmon fillets (approx. 260g)
Salt and ground black pepper, to season
½ tbsp vegetable oil
coconut milk, for drizzling
steamed rice, to serve
for the garnish
10g thai basil, finely shredded
half a red chilli, finely sliced
½ tbsp ginger, finely grated
2 tsp vegetable oil
for the sauce
50g red curry paste
1 tsp vegetable oil
150ml coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
juice of half a lime
1. In a pestle and mortar (or food processor), mash together the basil, chilli, ginger and oil, reserving a little of the basil and chilli for sprinkling at the end.
2. Heat the curry paste and oil in a small saucepan until fragrant and sizzling, then add the 150ml of coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Stir to combine, then keep the sauce uncovered and simmering while you cook the salmon.
3. Heat the ½ tbsp oil in a frying pan over a high heat. When the oil shimmers and you can see a faint swirl of smoke, sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper onto the skin side of each salmon fillet. Turn the heat down to medium-low, then add the fillets to the pan skin side down. Season the fleshy side with salt and pepper, if you wish. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then flip and cook on the fleshy side for 1-2 minutes.
4. Push down on the fillets with a spatula to keep the skin in close contact with the pan.
5. By now the sauce should be thick and glossy. Serve the crispy-skinned salmon with rice, a generous drizzle of red curry sauce, and spoonfuls of the garnish mixture. Finish with sprinkles of fresh chilli and basil, and an extra drizzle of coconut milk.
This post was kindly sponsored by Blue Dragon. All of the opinions expressed here and the recipes are our own. For more information, visit: http://www.bluedragon.co.uk
Fish market image by James Stevens