There's nothing quite like a trip to your local Asian market to catapult you out of a cooking funk. Chock-full of unique produce, meats and seafood, the new problem becomes honing in on certain ingredients and narrowing them down to one specific meal. On this particular day, I could not draw myself away from a large king salmon I had just intently watched the fishmonger fillet for an old, wise, Japanese elder. The salmon's crisp, clear eyes and vibrant, shiny scales screamed freshness...I simply had to have (what was left of) that remarkable fish!
As I stood in line impatiently waiting, with every turn that wasn't mine, I grew increasing anxious. I began viewing my fellow line dwellers as enemies, who at anytime could hostilely swoop in and snatch up that sole remaining piece. The situation called for drastic measures. THE TACTIC: to befriend my foes by engaging in idle conversation highlighting the wonderful attributes of all the other seafood in an attempt to confuse, bewilder and lure any possible salmon enthusiasts away from what I had deemed as rightfully mine! Minutes later...reaching the front of the line with sweaty palms and completely short of breath, I pointed to the glistening fish and lovingly watched the gentleman (like one might watch a young mother wrap her newborn baby) place it on the scale and tally up the price. Though still not in my possession...I felt I could finally breath!
Babies still on the mind and finding it difficult to break out of "random talking" mode, I began acting as if that king salmon fillet was the fishmonger's first born child. I commented on the salmon's pristine beauty and felt strangely obligated to explain to the man my intentions with his fish. I'm not sure he understood a single word I said, but the look in his eyes (which some may have perceived as confusion) I recognized as sadness, heart break and an uncertainty with his actions. Before he had an opportunity to rescind his offering, I quickly grabbed the package and scurried off to the check-out counter towards the front of the store. Like a fugitive hopping a train to get away and cross state lines...I jumped in my car and drove!
I was experiencing a "rush" only other food lovers would understand. Once I was far enough away, I rolled down the windows, turned up the tunes and looked over at the bag of 'goods' sitting beside me ~ the recipe that follows was the final result of my efforts that day. Stunning on the plate and equally so to the palate; I like to think the salmons' ultimate fate... would have made the fishmonger proud!
Initial Cooks Notes: We omittedthe lemongrass
Used Thai yellow curry paste
We grilled the salmon then finished in the oven
After quickly boiling the bok choy - we finished on the hot grill
Roast Salmon with Thai Red Curry and Bok Choy
Bon Appétit April 1999
• 8 whole baby bok choy
• 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
• 1 13 1/2- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh lemongrass or 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
• 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
Preparation Cook bok choy in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add curry paste and stir 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, chopped lemongrass and 1tablespoon brown sugar. Boil until mixture is slightly thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Set curry sauce aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook salmon 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake salmon until opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bok choy and sauté until beginning to brown in spots, about 4 minutes. Drizzle bok choy with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Bring curry sauce to simmer and ladle onto 4 plates. Arrange 1 salmon fillet and 2 pieces of bok choy atop curry sauce on each plate and serve.