Coconut Milk Poached Salmon

"coconut milk poached salmon"


Rejoice! This salmon recipe works for all seasons. Since it’s gluten, dairy, and land animal-free; it works for nearly all dinner guests too.

The first time I had fish poached in coconut milk was at Adrift in the historic, seaside town of Anacortes, WA. A piece of fresh caught halibut was swimming with bok choy in creamy coconut milk. I made it the next day with my first fish love, salmon, and have been improving on that attempt ever since. It’s best when you season the rich sauce and crisp one side of the salmon.

Poaching is key. It ensures the salmon stays moist even if you commit the cardinal sin of overcooking it.

You can make this in about 30 minutes. In one deep, lidded pan.

Serves 4-6

  • 2-3 lbs de-skinned fresh salmon or halibut fillets
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • one lime cut into wedges
  • ground coriander and cumin (optional. In India they mix these spices into one product: Dhania Jeera)
  • green curry paste (optional. Thai Kitchen happily features only ingredients you would expect to find)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • coconut cream or “manna” (optional)
  • fresh cilantro or thai basil (optional)
  • fresh spinach and/or freshly steamed rice

De-skin (both sides) salmon if necessary. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. On one side, rub salmon with generous amounts of salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander powder.

Heat coconut oil and a few drops of sesame oil uncovered in a large, deep saute pan (with lid, for later) on med high.  When shimmery, add salmon seasoned-side down. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until desired brownness achieved (move salmon around a lot at the beginning or else it will stick and you will lose your beautiful goldenness). Set salmon aside, raw side down on a plate.

Give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel. Add one can coconut milk, salt, pepper, pinch of sugar, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each of the following as desired; turmeric, cumin, coriander. Stir in 1-2 Tbs green curry paste (more will make it spicier) then a few Tbs coconut manna or Trader Joe’s “coconut cream” (in a brown can near the coconut milk) to add some extra richness, although it is not needed. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce to simmer, TASTE IT, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

When you are satisfied with the flavor of your sauce, slide the salmon raw side down into the center of the pan. Bring sauce back up to low simmer around the fish. Cover and poach until done (depends on thickness of fillet, but this usually takes about 10 minutes – just cut into it and check).

Ladle sauce over steamed rice, fresh spinach (thanks for the idea, Ash!) or both. Divide salmon and arrange fillets on top. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro and/or Thai basil.

Photo credit: Ashley Cascio

Photo credit: Ashley Cascio