In an effort to share more of our very most every day meals, the ones I throw together with whatever’s left in the fridge, or the staples I can make with my eyes half closed at the end of a long day, I’ve started posting occasional short, simple posts just about these meals. I call it vær så god, Norwegian for “bon appetit.”
This dish is a serious staple in our family meal rotation. I don’t know where it comes from exactly, except that it was originally in either a magazine or a newspaper. My mom clipped it out years and years ago and it swiftly became a favorite, hitting, as it does, the sweet spot of all the requirements of weeknight cooking: easy, healthy, and super flavorful. It was also a nice way to change up salmon from our more standard Scandinavian preparations.
My brothers and I were all sent copies of that original clipped recipe when we started cooking for ourselves and needed good but easy recipes – especially ones that work as well for impressing a date as they do for Thursday dinner. And not just my brothers and me, I think most of the other kids we grew up with in our neighborhood have a copy of this recipe stashed somewhere.
Of course I’ve made tweaks and changes to the recipe here and there, upping the heat, sometimes adding all sorts of extra spices and wine to the poaching broth, etc. But I haven’t made many because for the most part it was already perfect. And it’s always game for answering the question, “what’s for dinner?”
Vær så god!
- 1 pound salmon fillet (preferably wild caught), skin removed
- ⅔ cups fruity white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc) (optional)
- 1½-inch thick slice of fresh ginger (optional)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. thinly sliced green onion, divided
- 2 Tbs. coconut or peanut oil
- 3 tsp. Madras curry powder (not Thai, I know, but it works)
- 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 or more Thai bird's eye or jalapeno pepper, speared in several places with a knife, but left whole (use up to 4 chilis for more heat)
- 1 Tbs. fish sauce (plus more to taste)
- 1½ cup peas (fresh or frozen will work)
- cooked rice or rice noodles for serving
- chopped cilantro and mint for garnish
- In a deep stovetop pan that will snugly fit the salmon (you may want to cut the fillet into two pieces), combine the wine with 1 cup water (or just use all water), the slice of ginger (if using) and 2 Tbs. of chopped green onion, plus a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a bare simmer. Slip in the salmon and cook until it is just barely cooked (it should be rare in the center). Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid and cut it into approximately 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the peanut or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped green onion and stir in the curry powder. Cook, stirring, until the curry powder smells toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium, stir in the garlic, ginger, and brown sugar. Cook until the garlic is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Now stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, hot pepper(s), and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer the liquid for about 3 minutes.
- At this point, stir in the salmon chunks, gently breaking up a couple of them into smaller flakes. Cover the pan and cook, still over low heat, for 4 minutes. Uncover, and stir in the peas. Continue to simmer until the peas are just cooked through (3-4 minutes for frozen, about 4 or 5 for fresh). Taste and add more fish sauce (or salt) to taste.
- Serve the salmon and sauce over rice or rice noodles and sprinkle with chopped mint and cilantro to garnish.