Salmon Thai Green Curry

  • CCS-salmon-green-curry


    Salmon curry is a staple in our house and it seemed time to share the secrets. The following recipe can be made with almost any combination of veggies. The only thing you must have is salmon, rice, curry paste and coconut milk. My father, Gordon, is the original salmon curry man, so special thanks to him. Enjoy!


    • About 2 lbs. salmon (sockeye, king or coho)
    • 1 fist full green beans (for a authentic Thai-style green curry you can also use Thai green eggplants, although they can be hard to find)
    • 1 400ml can coconut cream
    • ¼ cup Thai green curry paste
    • ½ cup water
    • 2 tsp fish sauce
    • 2 tsp grated palm sugar (or regular sugar will work)
    • About 30 fresh lemon basil or Thai basil leaves


    1. Debone fillet and cut salmon into 1-2 inch square chunks.
    2. Trim bean ends and cut to length.
    3. Heat about half of the coconut cream in a heavy bottomed, high-sided pan and stir in green curry paste and allow to simmer gently for a few minutes.
    4. Add the rest of the coconut cream and the water.
    5. Return to a light simmer and add the green beans. Simmer until just tender.
    6. Add the salmon and summer uncovered until almost cooked through.
    7. Add the fish sauce and the sugar. Taste it then add more fish sauce if too sweet, more sugar if too salty.


    Here is a confession, I can’t cook Thai rice. It’s never any good when I make it. I can, however, make great East Indian-style rice. Jasmine rice is what’s normally used in Thai cooking but Basmati rice is what’s traditional in India. I make a Thai basmati rice that I think is quite good. It’s either an affront to both cultures or a beautiful marriage between them. Here is goes:


    • 2 cups high quality white or brown basmati rice
    • 4 cups water
    • 6 dry cardamom pods
    • 3 1 inch cinnamon sticks
    • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
    • 2 tbsp coconut oil
    • 1 cup chopped cilantro or mint
    • 1/2-1 cup fresh chopped pineapple
    • 1/2 cup or so green papaya salad dressing (see below)


    1. Rinse rice in a bowl about 10 times, or until water is clear. This is really the key to the whole deal. Cover the rice with cold tap water and mix quickly with your hand. The water will turn milky (this is not very obvious with brown rice so I wash it only a few times). Pour most of the water, stopping the rice with a hand or tool. Repeat until the water is clear or 10 times.
    2. Add 4 cups water and let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
    3. Drain the water and reserve to use later. 
    4. Heat a heavy-bottomed, tall-sided pan (must have a lid) over medium heat. I use a tall cast iron pan.
    5. When hot, add oil then cinnamon, cardamom and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. The cumin can burn if the pan is too hot. If you see it getting brown in a matter of seconds, scoop out all the spices immediately or the cumin will burn. Err on the side of less heat to avoid this.
    6. Add the rice and gently stir until all are mixed. Allow rice to fry for 2-3 minutes. Stir a few times, but be careful as the rice is getting fragile at this stage and will break up.
    7. Add the water and return to a very light simmer.
    8. Place the lid on but leave ajar (partially covered) and reduce the heat so water very lightly simmers.
    9. Cook for 25 minutes then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, cover completely with the lid and raise the entire pan up about 1-2 inches from the heat source. Over electrical heat you can set a pair of tongs on the burner and the pan on top. On a flame range you can use the handles or two cast iron pans, one on either side. It’s funky but its what I do. Leave in this position for another 10 minutes.
    10. Turn off heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
    11. Remove lid and observe perfection. The rice should be standing on end all over the surface. Toss in dressing, cilantro and/or mint, and pineapple. Toss very carefully (and just the minimum) because the rice is very fragile and will smash and break and loose its perfect texture and look very easily.


    I like to serve this dish by placing some rice on a dish then scooping some curry gently over the top. You can then sprinkle some chopped fresh basil over the the top (I use standard basil, not Thai basil for this). I also like to put raisin on top (the sweetness is really nice!) but I never once saw this in Thailand. Place some limes on the side and maybe some chopped unsalted peanuts on top and you’re ready to wow someone.

    Appetizer & Side Dish Ideas:

    I really love green papaya salads and I make them all the time. They are surprisingly simple and go together very quickly. Here’s how to do it:


    • One 2 lb. green papayas. These need to be as green and immature looking as possible. If the papaya looks totally green but is full in shape and looks like it might ripen in a week or so, its not green enough. You want the ones that are so green and hard they look like they will never ripen. Where it feels like a crime these neonatal papayalettes were picked because they were so young and innocent. These are the white-fleshed, super crunchy ones you want. Sometimes you can find bags of preshredded green papaya.
    • 6 small dried shrimp. These are easy to find in Chinese grocery stores. I have found they are not necessary (although I’m sure a Thai food connoisseur will be horrified to read that).
    • 2 small Thai chillies chopped (I use only a tiny amount because I have the taste buds of a tourist. Sometimes none at all).
    • 1 large clove garlic
    • 1/4 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
    • 1/4 pound green beans split along their length
    • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice (don’t dare use the stuff from a bottle)
    • 2 tbsp fish sauce
    • 20-30 halved cherry tomatoes
    • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts


    1. Peel the papaya then shred the whitish flesh with a julienne shredder tool (long thin strips) and set aside. About 6 cups should be the result.
    2. Trim the tips of the green beans then cut length ways and set aside.
    3. Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside.
    4. Assemble the dressing by combining the fish sauce, sugar, finely chopped dry shrimp, and lime juice.
    5. Place the garlic and chillies in a garlic press and press into dressing. Alternatively you can smash both in a mortar and pestle. Mix dressing until sugar is dissolved. 
    6. Taste the dressing. If too salty, add more sugar. If too sweet, add more fish sauce.
    7. Place a hand full of shredded green papaya on a plate or in a bowl. Top with green beans and tomatoes. Pour dressing over the top then add some chopped peanuts. You can also add chopped mint if you like. This salad tastes the best when it’s dressed on the heavy side. If you’re not worried about cooties, you can pour the extra dressing in the bottom of everyone’s bowl back into the container for future use. It will last for weeks in the fridge.

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