When it comes to seafood, common knowledge tells us to cook it hot and fast, so when I saw slow roasted Steelhead on the menu at the Painted Lady in Newberg Oregon, I was skeptical. I guess curiosity won over my skepticism because I ordered it.
The dish as a whole was a disaster. There was so much going on I can’t even remember half the things in/on/around the steelhead, but the limp overdressed arugula and prosciutto were memorable as was the fact that the dish was sooo salty I couldn’t taste much of anything else. Though in all fairness to the restaurant, the service was very friendly and the appetizer and dessert were both good.
So if it sounds bad and tasted bad, why would I make my own rendition?
As I said, the dish as a whole was a disaster. The slow roasted Steelhead on the other hand was transformational! As I was eating it, I went back and forth between oral bliss as the Steelhead melted into a pool of flavor on my tongue and utter indignation over the travesty that was on my fork.
Determined to fix this injustice I spent the next few days contemplating what I’d pair with the moist and melty morsels. This peanut and spicy red curry sauce melds perfectly with the creaminess and earthiness of the roasted salmon while the crispy, sweet and minty slaw strikes a pleasing juxtaposition, that will cool your palette and bring a smile to your face.
A couple things to note, use the best sockeye salmon or steelhead trout you can find (wild and line caught ideally). When making the sauce, don’t let it boil as the oil will separate (I turned my back for a few minutes as I was reheating it and it boiled which is why the photo doesn’t look so great).
Sockeye Salmon or Steelhead Trout filets that are relatively uniform in thickness
1 tsp oil
1 clove garlic pressed or minced
1 tsp ginger minced
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp garam masala (or curry powder)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 Tbs unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 C coconut milk
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar (omit if you’re using sweetened peanut butter)
1 C lightly sugar snap peas
1/4 C toasted peanuts roughly chopped
1 Tbs minced mint
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
About 30 minutes before putting it in the oven sprinkle a large pinch of brown sugar and small pinch of salt on each salmon fillet and rub onto the flesh side, cover and let them come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Place the salmon fillets on a roasting pan and put them in the oven. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, how cold they are and how accurate your oven temp is, the fish could take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. You don’t want to check it so often that you let all the heat out of the oven, but the best way to tell if it’s done is to stick a fork in it and see if it flakes easily.
To make the sauce heat a saucepan. Add the oil, garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant. Add the coriander seed, garam masala, cumin, and curry paste and mash together with the garlic and ginger until the spices give off a nice fragrance. Add the peanut butter and mash it all together into a smooth paste. Turn down the heat and add the coconut milk, whisking to combine into a smooth sauce. Heat until it just comes to a simmer but do not boil.
For the slaw, wash and de-string the snap peas. Boil a large pot of well salted water. Drop the peas in the boiling water and lightly blanch (less than a minute). Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Using a sharp knife slice the snap peas lengthwise into thin strips. Mince the mint and add it to the slaw along with the peanuts. When you’re ready to serve it dress the slaw with the fish sauce and vinegar (if you do it too early the vinegar will discolor the peas and mint).
When the salmon is done just plate each fillet and cover with the sauce. It goes nicely with some jasmine rice.