Sometimes, we need a good roundhouse kick of extraordinary taste and aroma. A presentation of flavors that are tangy, zesty, and spicy; breathing thunderous life throughout the crevices of one’s senses. It makes us feel alive. It implants a wide-eyed smile on our faces. We crave it, demand it, must have it. The cuisines of Southeast Asia – Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore – are all famous for its incredible complexity and heat. This recipe is my interpretation of a Southeast Asian green curry. The key differences are using fresh jalapeños and habaneros to form the base of the homemade curry paste and incorporating copious lip-smacking lime zest and juice. Not many items can match with such strong flavors. The fattiness of salmon combines nicely with this intoxicating curry. The addition of vegetables, such as mushrooms, zucchinis, and bamboo shoots, add earthiness, crunch, and body. This will warm your senses and belly.
Ingredients (serves two)
For the salmon:
- 1 lb salmon, cut into 2-inch wide filets
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 2 cups sliced zucchinis
- 4 ounces sliced bamboo shoots (from a can, but drain & rinse the bamboo shoots)
- 8-12 ounces coconut milk
- 1/2 cup Thai or Taiwanese basil
- 3-4 tablespoons lime zest
For the jalapeño green curry:
- 4 jalapeños
- 2 thai chilies or habenero chilies
- Handful of fresh cilantro (stems and all)
- Ginger, thumb sized
- 1 shallot
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1-2 lemongrass stalks
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- Salt & pepper
- Touch of olive oil or water
First, produce the base of the green curry. In a blender, add all the jalapeno curry ingredients and pulse the mixture until it forms a thick paste-like consistency. Reserve the jalapeno green curry mixture.
Heat a saute pan over high heat. Make sure the pan is large enough to create a curry and poach a salmon. Once sizzling, add the cremini mushrooms. The mushrooms will blister and slightly char from the direct heat, and lack of any oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring and flipping every 20-30 second. Reserve the mushrooms.
Turn the heat down to medium. Add the jalapeno green curry mixture to the pan and permit it to warm through for a couple minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and basil. Allow for the flavors and textures to meld together for a couple minutes. Then add the zucchini slices and cover the pan with its lid. The zucchini will gently steam in a curry bath for a couple minutes. We want to warm the zucchini through and not overcook them.
Season the salmon filets with salt/pepper and add them to the curry mixture. Try to submerse the salmon fully into the curry. Add the lime zest, bamboo shoots, seared mushrooms, dash of fish sauce, and more salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and have the salmon gently simmer over medium-low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes. I enjoy my salmon cooked medium-rare.
When the salmon is cooked to your liking, serve the invigorating salmon curry with rice and an icy cold beer.