Slow Roasted Salmon

Slow Roasted Salmon with Coconut Creamed Spinach

Roasting salmon in a cool oven for a long time may sound counter intuitive, but slow roasted salmon yields a moist fillet that looks almost raw, yet it has a melty tender texture that’s full of flavour. Short of vacuum sealing and cooking in a thermal circulator, I can’t think of a better way to prepare salmon. You get all the tenderness of poaching without diluting its natural flavors in water.

If that’s not enough to convince you, slow roasting salmon is simple. I usually just coat the salmon in a dry brine and throw it in a cool oven for 30 minutes. Because salmon tends to have a distinct taste that I’m not particularly fond of, I like to pair it with strong flavours. This time, I made a deconstructed Thai green curry giving the heat, salt and sweet components to the tender slow roasted salmon and the creamy coconut, fried garlic and kaffir lime flavours to the creamed spinach below.

The inspiration for this one came on a plane somewhere over Georgia. I was flipping through channels on a flight to Miami, when I came across a National Geographic special documenting the journey of sockeye salmon back to their place of birth. After battling their way up river, and past a hungry clan of marauding bears, the females started shooting out eggs like a Gatling gun. Meanwhile the males swam around vibrating and making the “o” face while fertilizing the eggs. It was striking…

I’d imagine that most people might have been grossed out or even offended by the wanton aquatic fornication. A smaller minority may have been mildly curious from a purely clinical point of view. But I’m not right in the head, and I found myself captivated by the imagery on the seatback LCD. All I could think about was how good all those eggs would taste slathered all over some hot rice and how those red fleshed wonders would melt in my mouth after being slow roasted in my oven.

Sockeye Salmon fillet

As luck would have it Wholefoods had a case full of ruby red sockeye salmon on sale for $9.99/lb when I got home. The meat-heads behind the counter had mangled the delicate flesh while filleting it, but it was fresh and cheap and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it when I got home…

Slow Roasted Salmon with Coconut Creamed Spinach

1 lbs sockeye salmon
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp Thai green curry paste
2 tsp oil

10 oz spinach thoroughly cleaned
2 cloves garlic minced
5 kaffir lime leaves sliced into fine chiffonade
Canned coconut milk (just the cream off the top)
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt (less if you use regular salt)

Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 200 degrees F. Using tweezers, remove any pin bones from the salmon. Slice the salmon into 2-3 even pieces.

Mash the brown sugar, green curry paste and oil until smooth and spread all over the salmon. Place the fillets onto a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Bake until the thickest part registers 125 F on an instant read thermometer, about 20-30 minutes.

For the spinach, blanch in boiling water until just wilted then drain, rinse under cold water and wring out any excess liquid with your hands. Roughly chop the spinach.

Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add a splash of oil then fry the garlic until it turns brown. Add the kaffir lime leaves and fry for a few seconds.

Provided the can hasn’t been disturbed, there should be a thick layer of coconut cream on the top. Carefully open the can and skim the thick white cream off the top and add it to the pan, you should get about half a can of cream. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the spinach into the pan to reheat.

To serve, spread a layer of creamed spinach down then top with a piece of slow roasted salmon.

  • http://www.hungrydesi.com/ nithya at hungrydesi

    interesting that you just used the cream part of the coconut milk…i usually mix the coconut milk and cream together before using. if you just use the cream, is the rest of the milk still tasty enough to use in another dish?

    • marc

      You can actually buy the cream alone at some shops, but I usually just get regular coconut milk and skim. It has a thick creamy texture that substitutes the roux you would normally use in creamed spinach.

      Without the cream mixed in the liquid is like water, but I’m sure it could be used for something. Also, you rarely get all the cream out, so what you’re left with is like “light” coconut milk.

    • http://www.hungrydesi.com/ nithya at hungrydesi

      Thanks for the response! I’m definitely going to try out the spinach part (salman looks lovely to – I just don’t eat fish).

  • http://www.hungrydesi.com nithya at hungrydesi

    interesting that you just used the cream part of the coconut milk…i usually mix the coconut milk and cream together before using. if you just use the cream, is the rest of the milk still tasty enough to use in another dish?

    • marc

      You can actually buy the cream alone at some shops, but I usually just get regular coconut milk and skim. It has a thick creamy texture that substitutes the roux you would normally use in creamed spinach.

      Without the cream mixed in the liquid is like water, but I’m sure it could be used for something. Also, you rarely get all the cream out, so what you’re left with is like “light” coconut milk.

    • http://www.hungrydesi.com nithya at hungrydesi

      Thanks for the response! I’m definitely going to try out the spinach part (salman looks lovely to – I just don’t eat fish).

  • jong

    I’ve been doing salmon this way in a smoker for some time. Smoke at 180-200 degrees for about 20 minutes depending on thickness.

    Absolutely delicious.

  • jong

    I’ve been doing salmon this way in a smoker for some time. Smoke at 180-200 degrees for about 20 minutes depending on thickness.

    Absolutely delicious.

  • http://duodishes.com/ The Duo Dishes

    The creamed spinach sounds oh so good! Now that would be a good way to get in some vitamins.

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    The creamed spinach sounds oh so good! Now that would be a good way to get in some vitamins.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    This is an interesting technique Marc. I enjoy salmon roasted too but have never “slow roasted” it. Something to consider in the near future.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    This is an interesting technique Marc. I enjoy salmon roasted too but have never “slow roasted” it. Something to consider in the near future.

  • Jessica

    Reminds me of a salmon mi-cuit I once had at Eleven Madison Park! It had the most buttery texture and, like you said, has a “raw” appearance. I found a recipe on-line: http://www.deliciousdays.com/archives/2005/09/12/salmon-mi-cuit-basil-potato-puree/

  • Jessica

    Reminds me of a salmon mi-cuit I once had at Eleven Madison Park! It had the most buttery texture and, like you said, has a “raw” appearance. I found a recipe on-line: http://www.deliciousdays.com/archives/2005/09/12/salmon-mi-cuit-basil-potato-puree/

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com/ veggiebelly

    I love the creamed spinach with kaffir leaf and coconut milk. I make a similar indian dish with spinach, coconut milk, garlic and curry leaves. I’ll be trying this soon :)

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com veggiebelly

    I love the creamed spinach with kaffir leaf and coconut milk. I make a similar indian dish with spinach, coconut milk, garlic and curry leaves. I’ll be trying this soon :)

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    so interesting… 200F. nice twist on the spinach flavor profile.

    • marc

      Well, there’s nothing magical about 200F. I’ve actually done it at 170 before (as low as my oven will go), but it takes almost twice as long to cook and there’s no appreciable difference in texture.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    so interesting… 200F. nice twist on the spinach flavor profile.

    • marc

      Well, there’s nothing magical about 200F. I’ve actually done it at 170 before (as low as my oven will go), but it takes almost twice as long to cook and there’s no appreciable difference in texture.

  • http://www.my-easy-cooking.com/ nina

    I love Thai Green Curries as you will see on my site and this is just so much more elegant, yet still my favorite Thai flavors!!!

  • http://www.my-easy-cooking.com nina

    I love Thai Green Curries as you will see on my site and this is just so much more elegant, yet still my favorite Thai flavors!!!

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com/ maggie (p&c)

    This is beautiful. Low oven = perfect for hot weather. I’ve never done it this way, usually just throw salmon on a grill for a VERY short time so it doesn’t overcook.

  • http://pithyandcleaver.com maggie (p&c)

    This is beautiful. Low oven = perfect for hot weather. I’ve never done it this way, usually just throw salmon on a grill for a VERY short time so it doesn’t overcook.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Only you, friend Marc, would look at a Wonton Fish Orgy and start fantasizing about spreading salmon progeny on rice and slow roasting the post-orgasmic parents. That’s why I like you so much.

    Digging the salmon/spinach color combination, and I love the idea of using the coconut cream in the spinach. Like I’ve said before, you inspire me. ‘cept for that whole spreading babies on rice thing. ;)

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    Only you, friend Marc, would look at a Wonton Fish Orgy and start fantasizing about spreading salmon progeny on rice and slow roasting the post-orgasmic parents. That’s why I like you so much.

    Digging the salmon/spinach color combination, and I love the idea of using the coconut cream in the spinach. Like I’ve said before, you inspire me. ‘cept for that whole spreading babies on rice thing. ;)

  • http://foodalogue.com/ Joan Nova

    Interesting technique to slow roast the salmon which I am definitely going to try. I also like your combination of flavors with both the salmon and the spinach.

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    Interesting technique to slow roast the salmon which I am definitely going to try. I also like your combination of flavors with both the salmon and the spinach.

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    What’s remarkable is that your cooking method almost preserved the deep red colour of your salmon…just awesome!

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    What’s remarkable is that your cooking method almost preserved the deep red colour of your salmon…just awesome!

  • http://croquecamille.wordpress.com/ Camille

    Sounds fantastic!

    Have you ever tried slow-poaching salmon in olive oil? A friend of mine used to do that in a restaurant where she worked, and it converted her from a salmon-hater to a salmon-lover!

    • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

      Nice! At the restaurant I used to work in, the boys played around with poaching halibut in chorizo oil for an Iron Chef-style competition. It was really, really good, and I am NOT a fish person at all!

  • http://croquecamille.wordpress.com Camille

    Sounds fantastic!

    Have you ever tried slow-poaching salmon in olive oil? A friend of mine used to do that in a restaurant where she worked, and it converted her from a salmon-hater to a salmon-lover!

    • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

      Nice! At the restaurant I used to work in, the boys played around with poaching halibut in chorizo oil for an Iron Chef-style competition. It was really, really good, and I am NOT a fish person at all!

  • http://justcallmemarta.blogspot.com/ Marta

    I think this makes perfect sense. I mean, it’s not what your head goes to first thing, but slow roasting must deepen the flavour while keeping the fish moist.
    Thanks for this great idea!

  • http://justcallmemarta.blogspot.com Marta

    I think this makes perfect sense. I mean, it’s not what your head goes to first thing, but slow roasting must deepen the flavour while keeping the fish moist.
    Thanks for this great idea!

  • http://kristinmacbride.com/ Kristin

    Looks amazing… love how you brought the Thai flavors into the spinach also. I can’t wait to try this.

  • http://kristinmacbride.com/ Kristin

    Looks amazing… love how you brought the Thai flavors into the spinach also. I can’t wait to try this.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com/ Choosy Beggar Tina

    Ooh, I was drooling over this on Tastespotting just this morning! I love salmon, spinach and Thai, so basically I’m a devotee to your recipe :) You know what I think is the best part about slow roasting salmon? You have a bit more flexibility in terms of cook time, which means less likelihood of messing it up. Speaking as somebody who has, more than one (dozen) time(s) overcooked her fish, I’ll take the help where it can be found hehehe….

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Choosy Beggar Tina

    Ooh, I was drooling over this on Tastespotting just this morning! I love salmon, spinach and Thai, so basically I’m a devotee to your recipe :) You know what I think is the best part about slow roasting salmon? You have a bit more flexibility in terms of cook time, which means less likelihood of messing it up. Speaking as somebody who has, more than one (dozen) time(s) overcooked her fish, I’ll take the help where it can be found hehehe….

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ Syrie

    I miss Canadian and Alaskan salmon. Have you seen Attenborough’s ‘Nature’s Great Events’? I believe there’s a great episode on the great salmon run — it’s fascinating. I saw a great recipe once for a similar cooking method for tuna — slow roasted on a low temp for hours which resulted in gorgeous tuna confit.

    • marc

      Nope, I don’t think I have, but now I’ll have to check it out (provided I have an adequate amount of ikura and salmon stocked in the fridge to sate any cravings it might cause):-)

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com Syrie

    I miss Canadian and Alaskan salmon. Have you seen Attenborough’s ‘Nature’s Great Events’? I believe there’s a great episode on the great salmon run — it’s fascinating. I saw a great recipe once for a similar cooking method for tuna — slow roasted on a low temp for hours which resulted in gorgeous tuna confit.

    • marc

      Nope, I don’t think I have, but now I’ll have to check it out (provided I have an adequate amount of ikura and salmon stocked in the fridge to sate any cravings it might cause):-)

  • The Little Teochew

    Oh Marc, you are too funny!!! Was so tickled by your description of the documentary ;) But hey, that salmon looks delectable! And the presentation is gorgeous!

  • http://thelittleteochew@blogspot.com The Little Teochew

    Oh Marc, you are too funny!!! Was so tickled by your description of the documentary ;) But hey, that salmon looks delectable! And the presentation is gorgeous!

  • http://www.bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    Marc, I’m passing on the Kreativ Blogger award to you. Come to my blog and check it out.

  • http://www.bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com Ninette

    Marc, I’m passing on the Kreativ Blogger award to you. Come to my blog and check it out.

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com/ Eralda

    I love salmon, especially roasted like this. I usually top mine with a mango-ginger sauce. Curry sounds delicious with it. Last time I made salmon I was lucky to find some good quality fish at the very humble fish section, maybe I’ll find it again and try your curry with it. Yum!

  • http://thesplitpea.blogspot.com Eralda

    I love salmon, especially roasted like this. I usually top mine with a mango-ginger sauce. Curry sounds delicious with it. Last time I made salmon I was lucky to find some good quality fish at the very humble fish section, maybe I’ll find it again and try your curry with it. Yum!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Nice post Marc, and the green recipe too!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Nice post Marc, and the green recipe too!

  • http://www.eatshowandtell.com/ Howard

    Very interesting as I never thought of slow roasting a fillet this way before. Usually it’s with a whole salmon which I can barely fit in the oven.

  • http://www.eatshowandtell.com Howard

    Very interesting as I never thought of slow roasting a fillet this way before. Usually it’s with a whole salmon which I can barely fit in the oven.

  • http://www.tabletalks.de/HomeUK.html Kirsten

    Wonderful photos! And the recipe…. it sounds soooo delicious!!! I HAVE to try it!

  • http://www.tabletalks.de/HomeUK.html Kirsten

    Wonderful photos! And the recipe…. it sounds soooo delicious!!! I HAVE to try it!

  • http://www.palatetopen.com/ Jennifer

    Brilliant technique! The salmon maintains its vibrant beauty and a “melty tender texture” sounds perfect. Cheers to NatGeo TV inspiration!

  • http://www.palatetopen.com Jennifer

    Brilliant technique! The salmon maintains its vibrant beauty and a “melty tender texture” sounds perfect. Cheers to NatGeo TV inspiration!

  • http://germanyshoppingonline.blogs.ie/ jessica

    Excellent site,Thanks for this great post – I will be sure to check out your blog more often.Just subscriped to your RSS feed..

  • http://germanyshoppingonline.blogs.ie/ jessica

    Excellent site,Thanks for this great post – I will be sure to check out your blog more often.Just subscriped to your RSS feed..

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    Hi Marc – Oh your coconut creamed spinach sounds divine. I hope you come by to check out the same wavelength we are on (see June 22nd post) I don’t want to link due to spam. Same colors, oh salmon roe too! YAY! I must try slow roast…
    LL

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    Hi Marc – Oh your coconut creamed spinach sounds divine. I hope you come by to check out the same wavelength we are on (see June 22nd post) I don’t want to link due to spam. Same colors, oh salmon roe too! YAY! I must try slow roast…
    LL

  • http://www.culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    lol on the salmon imagery. I unfortunately can never find it cheap and most of what I do find is farm :-(

    Looks and sounds awesome and love the flavors!

  • http://www.culinarydisaster.com/wordpress Jeff

    lol on the salmon imagery. I unfortunately can never find it cheap and most of what I do find is farm :-(

    Looks and sounds awesome and love the flavors!

  • http://www.simplygluten-free.com/ Carol, Simply…Gluten-free

    I love this. The salmon looks positivly lucious!

  • http://www.simplygluten-free.com Carol, Simply…Gluten-free

    I love this. The salmon looks positivly lucious!

  • http://constableslarder.com/ Giff

    this really looks and sounds amazing. Top Chef Masters just had an episode where a swedish chef slow-cooked salmon and the judges loved it. I love the flavor profile in your dish… and for someone who adores green curry, it is a bit strange I’ve never made it myself.

  • http://constableslarder.com Giff

    this really looks and sounds amazing. Top Chef Masters just had an episode where a swedish chef slow-cooked salmon and the judges loved it. I love the flavor profile in your dish… and for someone who adores green curry, it is a bit strange I’ve never made it myself.

  • http://www.openkyoto.com/ KyotoFoodieのPeko

    No kidding! Slow roasting, that is like the opposite of sashimi. How about a meal featuring slow roasted and raw? I have to try this recipe soon. 125F, I wonder if that is possible in a Japanese fish grill.

  • http://www.openkyoto.com KyotoFoodieのPeko

    No kidding! Slow roasting, that is like the opposite of sashimi. How about a meal featuring slow roasted and raw? I have to try this recipe soon. 125F, I wonder if that is possible in a Japanese fish grill.

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  • http://muskegharpy.blogspot.com/ Jacquie

    Yes, this is a comment posted way after everybody else. Slow roasting is the only way I’ll bake salmon anymore. I really like how evenly a whole fillet will cook–tail section not dried out while thick sides are raw.

    Also, the only thing cooler than watching sockeye race upstream is getting to catch them in your dipnet and haul them onshore.

  • http://muskegharpy.blogspot.com Jacquie

    Yes, this is a comment posted way after everybody else. Slow roasting is the only way I’ll bake salmon anymore. I really like how evenly a whole fillet will cook–tail section not dried out while thick sides are raw.

    Also, the only thing cooler than watching sockeye race upstream is getting to catch them in your dipnet and haul them onshore.

  • http://gutsandshame.blogspot.com/ CarrieP

    I just made this…it was fantastic! I couldn’t find the kaffir lime so I just substituted a little lime zest and juice plus some thai basil. Out of this world…seriously.

  • http://gutsandshame.blogspot.com CarrieP

    I just made this…it was fantastic! I couldn’t find the kaffir lime so I just substituted a little lime zest and juice plus some thai basil. Out of this world…seriously.

  • julianna

    cooked this yesterday; absolutely delicious. made my own thai green curry paste to add extra pizzazz, sadly added too many chillies but that is a fault of my own making. thanks for the recipe!!!

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  • Kalapi_p

    This was brilliant, I used a kaffir and chilli marinade I had, still added the sugar. The texture of the salmon was lovely!!! I couldnt get the cream from the coconut milk so just used the milk, but still worked well. I will be incorporating this in my diet. Thank you.

  • SALMON FIEND

    wow this was so good . i mean , i have eaten alot of salmon im my time but this salmon . . . . this salmon is THE salmon , all the other salmon dishes should just quit . when i ate this salmon , somthing special happend to me – everyone should eat this meal at least twice a day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stacy.look Stacy Look

    best salmon technique ever!

  • The Chicago Prophet

    What the best (closest?) substitute I can use if kaffir leaves are not available? Thanks.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Kaffir lime leaves are one of those things with a very distinct flavor that is hard to substitute. That said, you could just go for a totally different flavor and use something like cilantro or basil.

  • Thao Barrett

    Made this last night and it was delicious. I only had red curry powder so I made my own paste using the coconut water left in the can after I scooped the cream off the top. Also didn’t have access to kaffir leaves so I used lime zest instead. I’m sure it’s a totally different flavor, but was still good nonetheless. One thing I would say is that I thought it could use a crispy texture to tie it all together. Could you suggest something? Could the salmon be pan-seared before going in the oven to add a crispy exterior?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear you liked it! Adding a crispy texture is a great idea! Unfortunately pan-searing (until the skin crisps) before will not only ruin the texture, it would lose it’s crispness as it roasts anyway (because its at such a low temp). I thought about this a bit and think that adding deep fried shallots on top would not only taste awesome (and provide crispness), it fits in with the Thai theme. To deep fry shallots, just peel them, slice them in rings thinly, then put them in a wire strainer and toss with potato starch. Fry them until golden brown, then drain on paper towels. Lightly salt, and you can use them on the salmon when you plate it, or on salads, rice, etc. They’re also pretty addictive on their own (like mini onion rings).

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  • Amy

    I am cooking this for somebody, do you think that if I use yellow curry it will make an obvious difference in flavor? I am just asking because my friend I am making it for does not like spicy food.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Amy, by yellow curry, do you mean yellow curry paste? The reason I ask is because yellow curry paste and yellow curry powder are not the same thing. Yellow curry paste will work, curry powder will not.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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