CHOO CHEE SALMON
Choo chee curries are very similar to red curries. Red curry paste is used to make the sauce and, just like red curries, coconut milk is a key ingredient. So what makes them different? The choo chee sauce is normally served over seafood, it is thicker than a normal red curry and also a bit sweeter. Choo chee curries are also not usually as spicy as a red curry. I have used salmon here but you could use any seafood. This sauce is just as good served over sea bass, scallops or prawns and it’s often served over vegetables as a vegetarian option at many restaurants. In this recipe I have used a cooking method called ‘cracking the coconut milk’. It is a traditional cooking style which can be used to cook coconut sauce curries without having to add oil.
PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOKING TIME: 10 MINS
4 x 225g salmon fillets with the skin on
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander, to garnish
1 red spur chilli, thinly sliced, to garnish
FOR THE SAUCE
600ml thick coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
5 lime leaves, stalks removed and leaves finely julienned
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tsp grated palm sugar or honey
1 I like salmon cooked with a nice crispy skin. To do this, take a sharp knife and scrape it across the skin of each salmon fillet. As you do this, moisture will come out of the skin. Use a paper towel to dry this off your knife and continue scraping until the skin is paper dry.
2 Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium–high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, place the salmon fillets in the pan and fry for about 3 minutes, pressing them down with your spatula so that the skin fries evenly. Flip the fillets over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. I prefer my salmon pink in the centre but you could fry yours for longer if you prefer the salmon cooked through. Keep warm while you make the sauce.
3 Pour about a quarter of the coconut milk into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium–high heat. As it simmers, the oil should separate from the milk. This is called cracking the coconut milk, a technique used a lot in Thai curries, but if yours doesn’t separate don’t worry too much.
4 Stir in the red curry paste and the remaining coconut milk and reduce down for a couple of minutes until it is much thicker. Stir in the lime leaves, the fish sauce and palm sugar or honey and continue simmering until the sugar dissolves into the sauce. Taste the sauce and add more sugar if you want it sweeter, more curry paste if you want it spicier and/or more fish sauce for a saltier flavour.
5 Place each salmon fillet, crispy-skin-side up, on four plates. Pour the sauce around the fish and also drizzle some over the top. Garnish with coriander and red chilli slices to serve.
The Curry Guy Thai by Dan Toombs (Quadrille, £15) Photography: Kris Kirkham