This Thai salmon curry recipe is so rich in deep flavors and it only takes about half an hour make! Sour tamarind, sweet palm sugar, and salty fish sauce all dance together to make this glorious curry sing. The fatty salmon fillets are the cherries on top of this beautiful dish.Jump to Recipe
“OMG, are you gonna finish yours? Just give me a little bite.”-frankie
WTF is Sweet & Sour Thai Salmon Curry?
This recipe was inspired from a classic Bangkok dish, Kang the-pho. It’s a beautiful red curry made with coconut milk and pork belly. Which is kind of confusing, because “the-pho” is a catfish found in the rivers of Thailand.
Somewhere along the way folks starting using pork belly instead of the regional catfish, but the name stuck, and so did the fantastic flavors! But this isn’t a traditional Kang the-pho recipe, it’s just a really tasty red curry with fish.
Sticking to regional ingredients, we like to use salmon, specifically King salmon. It’s the fattiest of all salmon, and dubbed “king” for a reason. Steelhead, Halibut, or Black Cod would also work great.
The heart of this curry however, is the balance between sour, sweet, and salty. Tamarind, palm sugar, fresh citrus, and fish sauce all work together to achieve this. Tasting this curry you’d think it would take hours to get these kind of flavors, but nah it all comes together super fast.
So grab all the proper ingredients and buckle up, we’re going to flavor town with this Thai salmon curry.
Best Salmon for Thai Salmon Curry
There are a few different species of salmon out there, so why do we prefer the King salmon for this Thai salmon curry recipe? Let’s talk about it.
First of all, King salmons high fat content and thick meaty texture really help it stand up against other intense flavors, like curry spices. It compliments the other flavors without losing that great salmon taste.
Secondly, size does matter, in this case anyway. The thick meaty king salmon makes it more forgiving to work with. Other smaller species like sockeye will yield thinner fillets and cook a lot faster. Atlantic salmon are similar in size to the king salmon, but they’re not as firm and more oily.
Lastly, we’ll end with a little region bias. In Oregon we have access to some amazing seafood. The Colombia River is only a few miles north of us and during spring and summer months we are blessed with a steady run of these fatty fish.
These are just some reasons why I love King Salmon, they aren’t hard rules on what you have to use. You don’t even need to use salmon! I suggest playing with what YOU have access to locally. Just research how your regional fish cooks and adjust this recipe accordingly.
Here’s a fun guide to some of the different salmon species out there. Tasting Table article link.
SWEET AND SOUR THAI SALMON CURRY
Sweet & Sour Thai Salmon Curry Ingredients
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to make this Thai salmon curry:
- Curry Paste: Store bought red curry paste is fine. You’ll need most of the jar, about 1/3 of a cup.
- Stock: We use homemade shellfish stock from Dungeness crabs, check out our recipe. Store bought seafood or shellfish stock is fine.
- Veggies: We use broccoli rabe and bok choy. I like the texture crunch the broccoli gives in contrast to the soft salmon meat and bok choy leaves. Feel free to add or substitute, just keep in mind cooking times for other more firm veggies. You don’t want to over cook the salmon because you’re wating on a f*@king potato to cook!
- Salmon: King salmon is fatty and meaty, the perfect fish to use for this Thai salmon curry. Other species of salmon will work fine, as will steelhead, black cod, or even halibut. Take a trip to Alaska and catch you own!
- Fish Sauce: Don’t leave out the fish sauce, you need that salty contrast, it’s a key part to the trifecta of flavors. Sweet, Sour, and Salty!
- Citrus: Right at the end you’ll want to add some freshly squeezed orange juice and some zest. If you can find market limes, even better.
- Sugar: Palm sugar or light brown sugar.
- Oil: Coconut oil is used to fry the curry paste.
- Coconut Milk & Cream: Creamy delicious coconut milk and cream, gotta have it. Yum.
How to Make Sweet & Sour Thai Salmon Curry
Follow these step by step instructions to make this Thai salmon curry recipe.
Step 1: Heat Paste
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, combine curry paste, coconut cream, and coconut oil over high heat. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes.
Add coconut milk, palm sugar, tamarind, fish sauce, and stir.
Step 2: Add Salmon
Add the broccolini, and make sure its submerged. Add some seafood stock if you need to cover the broccoli. Cover and simmer for 5 mintues.
Add the bok choy and salmon, skin down. Pour the rest of the stock in to cover everything. Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes. The salmon should be opaque and flaky.
Step 3: Add Citrus
Stir in the orange juice and zest. Give everything a good stir. Taste and adjust accordingly. With this Thai salmon curry we are aiming for an even balance of sweet, sour, and salty.
Step 4: Garnish & Serve
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice.
Leftovers & Storing Sweet & Sour Thai Salmon Curry
This Thai Salmon Curry is even better the next day. After spending a chilly night in the refrigerator together, the flavors have more time to mingle and integrate.
Let the curry cool and transfer it to an airtight container. It should be good for the next 4-6 days. To reheat, slowly bring it up to temperature it in a pot over medium low heat. Add a little water to the rice when you reheat it.
More Curry Recipes
If you enjoy this Thai salmon curry and want some more curry recipes, we got you! Check out my personal favorite, Massaman Curry. If you thought this Thai salmon curry had complex flavors, just wait till you try these recipes.
Traditionally made with chicken, massaman curry has a complex history and its flavors reflect that. Try our Beef Massaman Curry recipe!
And for all you animal lovers, we hear ya, check out our Vegetarian Massaman Curry recipe. Let us know what y’all think! Happy cooking, cheers!