Poached Salmon in Coconut Lime Sauce

Poached Salmon in Coconut Lime Sauce

Poached Salmon made extraordinary with a basic, astounding Coconut Lime Sauce!! Tastes like a Thai coconut curry sauce – however it's snappy and simple. Try to caramelize garlic, ginger and lemongrass with a smidge of sugar before including the coconut milk. It's amazing what a distinction it makes!

Poached fish has terrible notoriety. Its simple notice invokes dreams of pale, overcooked, flavorless fish swimming in dim water.

It's the ideal opportunity for a makeover.
THIS Poached Salmon swimming in an outrageously tasty caramelised Coconut Lime Sauce with lemongrass, ginger and chilli. Poached fish never tasted so good!! 

This poached salmon is lightly seared on the outside first then we finish cooking it by poaching in a simple Thai coconut curry sauce.

How to poach salmon

The “normal” way to poach salmon involves bringing a pot of water to the boil with some basic aromatics like lemon and sprigs of herbs, then the salmon is gently simmered until it’s cooked.
This isn’t my favourite way to cook salmon. I miss the flavour you get from searing.
So my method of making poached salmon involves lightly searing first THEN poaching in the same skillet.

Coconut Curry Sauce – real easy!

Looks like Thai Red Curry, tastes like Thai Red Curry…..
Sure, it doesn’t have quite the same depth of flavour – but it requires a fraction of the time and ingredients. I think even those with sophisticated South East Asian palettes will still be mighty impressed with the flavour of we manage to get in this so quickly and with so few ingredients!
Here’s what goes in the coconut curry sauce – and it’s all things you can pick up at supermarkets.
The one thing that some supermarkets may not carry is Chilli Garlic Sauce which, as the name suggests, is a spicy garlicky paste. But don’t worry if you can’t find it – just sub with any chilli paste, even if it’s not Asian (eg Franks), OR use a chilli sauce like Sriracha.

Caramelisation makes all the difference!

If you’re looking at the ingredients suspiciously, thinking surely she’s exaggerating, how on earth can so few ingredients make a coconut curry sauce that tastes like Thai Red Curry? I don’t blame you. I’ll be honest – I’ve tried a few simple Coconut sauces before and been disappointed.
So here are the 2 key things in this recipe that add depth of flavour into this otherwise simple sauce:
1.    Sear the salmon first. Just lightly – to add colour and flavour to the salmon as well as leaving behind tasty brown bits in the skillet (it’s called fond!) that adds flavour into the sauce. This is a cooking fundamental – never waste those precious golden bits from searing things!
2.    Caramelise the aromatics (garlic, ginger, lemongrass) with a touch of sugar. It’s amazing how much more flavour that adds to an otherwise simple sauce!

What to serve with poached salmon

There’s enough sauce to serve this over rice or, as pictured, with noodles. I’ve used vermicelli noodles here because they’re quick to prepare – just soak in boiling water for a few minutes,
Add a side of steamed Asian greens and voila! A healthy, Omega 3 rich dinner on the table in 20 minutes!!!
PS If you’re wondering if salmon is good for you, the answer is yes, we should all eat more of it! It’s rich in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids which do all sorts of good things for you – brain, joints and heart. So don’t shy away from salmon because you think it’s too fatty or too high in calories – it’s good fat.


·         4 salmon fillets , 180g/6oz each preferably skinless (Note 1)
·         Salt and pepper
·         2 tbsp oil , separated
·         2 garlic cloves , finely grated
·         2 tsp ginger , finely grated
·         1 lemongrass , peeled, finely grated (Note 2)
·         1 tbsp brown sugar
·         1 tsp chilli garlic paste or other chilli paste, adjust to taste (Note 3)
·         400 g/14oz coconut milk (Note 2)
·         1 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
·         2 tsp lime zest (1 lime)
·         Lime juice , to taste


·         Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves , finely chopped (recommended)
·         Finely sliced large red chillies (optional)
·         Vermicelli noodles , soaked per packet, or rice
·         Steamed Asian greens


1.            Sprinkle both sides of salmon with salt and pepper.
2.    Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non stick pan or well seasoned skillet over medium high heat. Add salmon, skin side up, and sear for just 1 1/2 minutes until golden. Turn salmon and cook the other side just for 1 minute, then remove onto a plate (should still be raw inside).
3.    Turn heat down to medium low and allow skillet to cool.
4.    Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Cook until garlic is light golden ~ 1 minute.
5.    Add sugar and cook for 20 seconds until it becomes a caramel (see video). Then stir in chilli paste.
6.    Add coconut milk and stir, scraping the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any bits stuck on the base into the sauce.
7.    Stir in fish sauce, increase heat to medium. Simmer for 2 minutes.
8.    Place salmon into the sauce, lower heat and simmer gently for 4 minutes, or until just cooked.
9.    Remove salmon, stir in lime zest and juice to taste. Adjust salt to taste with fish sauce.
10. Serve salmon over noodles or rice. Spoon over sauce, garnish with coriander and chili if using.


Recipe Notes:

1. Salmon - Skinless is better for this dish because it's not a crispy skin salmon recipe. But skin on is ok too.
2. Lemongrass - peel reedy outer layers and just use the bottom 12cm/5" of the stalk, the part that's white and very pale green that can be grated. 
Lemongrass paste can be used instead - stir in 1 tbsp once the coconut milk is added.
3. Chilli Paste - Any chilli paste is fine here. Even sriracha or other Asiany hot sauce. This is to add spiciness and adds colour to the sauce.
4. Low fat coconut milk can be used but the sauce won't have as good a coconut flavour and will be a bit thinner.
5. Variations - This recipe works great with any fish, prawns/shrimp, chicken (thighs or breast halved horizontally or bite size pieces).
6. Nutrition assumes all sauce is used. Remember - all those Omega 3 fatty acids in salmon are good for you! Good for your brain, heart and joints!

Watch how to make it