This recipe is the poster child of the perfect weeknight meal. It's fast (done in 30 minutes); cooks in one pot, so cleanup is minimal; and it takes a familiar ingredient, in this case salmon, and makes it feel fresh and new. All that might seem like a tall order for a recipe, but this dish of braised salmon rises to the occasion quite deliciously.
Weeknight braising isn't often an option unless you got your act together the night before and put the slow cooker on in the morning. But with salmon, braising is truly a 10-minute affair. As Diane explains, salmon is already tender to begin with, so this method, which actually walks the line between braising and poaching, renders the fish so velvety and meltingly tender.
The resulting broth, flavored with rich coconut milk, fish sauce, and green curry paste, is good enough to drink, but if we're practicing restraint, ladling it over a bowl of jasmine rice will suffice.
30-Minute Green Curry Braised Salmon
4 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each), skin and pin bones removed
1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai green curry paste
1 tablespoon packed golden or light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, preferably Vietnamese nuoc mam
2 cups snow peas, stem ends trimmed and strings removed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
3 scallions, including green tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Remove the salmon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
Open the can of coconut milk without first shaking it. Spoon out the thick cream that has separated and risen to the top. Set the cream aside in a small bowl. Pour off the remaining thin coconut milk and reserve it separately.
In a large sauté pan, warm the coconut cream over medium-low heat. Add the curry paste and whisk until the mixture is smooth and comes to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the thin coconut milk, water, and fish sauce and bring to a simmer, stirring once or twice.
Add the salmon fillets in a single layer, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Flip the salmon, cover again, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Scatter the snow peas around the salmon, submerging them in the liquid, cover the pan, and cook until the snow peas are bright green and the salmon is cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat.
Transfer the salmon to warmed dinner plates or shallow pasta bowls. Stir the lime juice, green onions, and cilantro into the curry sauce. Spoon the curry sauce and snow peas around the fillets, dividing the sauce and peas evenly. Serve immediately.Reprinted with permission from Salmon by Diane Morgan, copyright (c) 2016. Published by Chronicle Books.