Deep-fried Sockeye Salmon with Red Curry Sauce

| May 19, 2011 | 0 Comments

Smell of fresh water.
Lunge. Leap. Fly. Splash. Heavenward.
Homeward bound to mate.

— A haiku ode to salmon

I grew up in Thailand, and for the first part of my life, salmon was foreign to me. Seafood was plentiful. But the silvery skinned, silky and distinctively flavored pink flesh was not something you saw at any fish market in Thailand. I had no idea what I was missing.

Now we live in the Pacific Northwest, where salmon has an almost cult-like culinary following. It’s such a versatile fish. Poach it. Grill it. Broil it. Sear it. Smoke it. Heck, eat it raw and savor the silky fatty flesh as sashimi. Each species of salmon is not like the other, and neither is its flavor.

Chinook are prized for their color, high oil content, firm texture and succulent flesh.

Sockeye are known for their rich flavor and deep red color that makes a dramatic cooking presentation. To me, Sockeye have the most pronounced flavor.

Coho have an orange-red flesh, firm texture, delicate flavor, and are usually marbled with fat. Of the three species that are most commonly seen at fish counters, Coho have the mildest flavor.

May is the beginning of the Oregon and Alaska spring commercial salmon season, so you’ll be able to get wild salmon at the store.

Here’s an uncommon way to enjoy salmon that is a marriage of a Pacific Northwest ingredient with a distinctly Asian presentation: Deep fried salmon with red curry and bell pepper sauce.

Deep-fried Sockeye Salmon with Red Curry Sauce

Serves 2


  1. 4 cups (960 ml.) peanut oil
  2. 1 pound (454 g.) Sockeye (or other) salmon fillets
  3. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) cooking oil
  4. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) Thai red curry paste
  5. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) fish sauce
  6. Half of a red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  7. Half a cup (120 ml.) of thinly sliced onion
  8. 3 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed and sliced into very thin slivers
  9. 4 tablespoons (60 ml.) water


  • In a non-stick skillet, heat peanut oil over high heat. Fry salmon fillet flesh side down and skin side up for 3-4 minutes, then turn over and fry another 3-4 minutes until the surface of the flesh and skin are crisp. Remove from oil and set aside on serving platter.
  • Next, prepare the sauce in another skillet by heating 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat and adding curry paste, stirring until the paste becomes soft and blended with the oil.
  • Add fish sauce, bell pepper and onion slices, and sauté until the onion and bell pepper pieces are soft.
  • Add kaffir lime leaves, water, and stir for a minute or two until the liquid begins to boil and the lime leaves begin to wilt.
  • Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately with steamed white rice, wild rice or vegetables.


— Vic

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Category: Seafood

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

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