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a fascinating concept

Recipe: grilled salmon panang

You will never find me lying in the sun on a beach unless I’ve died there or aliens have replaced me with a fake Jen Yu… in which case I have a predetermined question that Jeremy must ask to see if it’s really me. Aside from not liking the sand (it gets EVERYWHERE) and the humidity, I am not a big fan of the sun. I spent most of my childhood summers roasting on a boat on the water. I got enough sun to last me three lifetimes.

I recently met with some gal pals for lunch out on the patio of Pizzeria Basta. We started in the shade and as lunch wore on, the sun crept across our tables. We shifted the tables back into the shade when Beth said she’d be happy to switch seats with anyone as she liked the sun. And suddenly I looked around at my friends and envisioned them with a weatherman’s sun or a weatherman’s cloud over their head.


pizzeria basta is located in a mixed development

beth and marianne ordered a lovely salad

drea and i split the cart-driver pizza (with salami b/c they were out of sausage)



When I have lived on the East Coast, the sun was just sort of there (and in Ithaca, it was sort of not really there). It rose, it set – whatever. Living in the west, the sun dictates a lot of what we do. In summer, we make plans around the sun. Hikes start at 5 am or earlier – we run or ride in the mornings or a few hours before sundown. We all hide in the coolest parts of the house at midday.

even on the cloudy days, kaweah tries to soak up every bit of sun

but i was quite delighted to get some rain



A lot of effort goes into avoiding the heat and that includes heat from the kitchen. I swore to myself that I would focus on quick and simple recipes this summer and I think it has put me in a happier mood. Let’s do cool, fresh, quick, easy! Sounds good, right? By the time our evenings start to dip back below freezing in September, I will be ready for those beloved stews and soups and slow-roasted nommy noms. For now, I love me some grilled food. Meat + Fire = Good.

gorgeous wild caught salmon

fish sauce, coconut milk, panang curry paste, paprika, sugar



I could probably find a recipe for panang curry from scratch, but these little cans of curry fascinate me. In my local Asian grocery store (in most Asian grocery stores) these cans are stacked up – red, yellow, orange, green, brighter orange, deeper red. You know me, I’m totally drawn to bright colors. One by one I tried them: yellow curry, green curry, red curry, masaman curry, sour yellow curry. Reading down the list of ingredients I wondered if there was a panang curry among those cute little cans. When I got to the store, I found it nestled between the masaman and the sour yellow curries. Nice.

making the sauce

grilled and beautiful



I didn’t season the fish before grilling it, but I think I might salt it lightly and brush with a little oil before setting it on the grill the next time. The fish was done cooking right as I took the curry off the stove. The curry takes all of three minutes to prepare. Fast. Easy. Wow, what a concept! I can get behind this.

pour the panang sauce over the fish



A little steamed rice and some fresh cucumber salad on the side makes for a superb meal. We had it again tonight (to finish the curry paste) with grilled shrimp (support the Gulf, buy wild caught Gulf shrimp). Also a winner of the nth order. Winners all around! Woooooo! Have a fantastic weekend, everyone – I am outta here!

don’t gimme guff on the orchids – i paid $10 for 4 sprays, ima gonna use ‘em



Grilled Salmon Panang
[print recipe]
from Thai Cooking Made Easy by Sukhum Kittivech

3/4 lb. (340g) salmon fillet
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp panang curry paste
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika

Grill or bake the salmon to your liking. While the salmon is cooking, place the oil and curry paste in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and paprika. Bring the sauce to a boil and remove from heat. Pour over the salmon and serve. Serves 2.

26 nibbles at “a fascinating concept”

  1. Kath says:

    I’m not a huge fan of fish (or humidity) but salmon is my FAVE fish and that salmon looks gorgeous.

    As for the Kaweah puppy? She’s too cute for words :-)

  2. Debbie says:

    One word – delicious! I could eat fish every night. Kaweah looks like she is just enjoying hanging out. I had a greyhound a few years back and he would lay in the sun and his belly would be about ten shades darker by the end of summer!

  3. Michelle says:

    I actually use those cans of curry all the time! We favor the yellow one and fill it with steamed sweet potato, spinach, red pepper, broccoli, etc. Pretty much any veg and meat we have at the time and serve over rice. We’ve turned many friends on to those little cans! I tend to get them at our Asian market, but for those of you without, I’ve seen them at Whole Foods.

  4. Kristin says:

    Dagnabit! Why hasn’t my grocery store had wild caught salmon lately? I’ve got a stack of recipes to try & now I have to add this. I may have to make the long trip to Whole Foods with a cooler. Beaches…yuck.

  5. Wei-Wei says:

    I love love love salmon. And fish, actually. I don’t understand why people don’t like fish… Sigh. Salmon sashimi is good, too, but I think my favourite way of eating salmon is grilled. Steamed with aromatics (my mom uses ginger, onions, a little miso) comes a close second… this sounds great too! :)

    Wei-Wei

  6. dave says:

    This looks fantastic, will have to definitely try it!

    Maybe I’m weird, but I was oddly amused by the stand the raw fish was on, the fish seemed to fit perfectly :P

  7. Kalynskitchen says:

    Love it!

  8. Jill says:

    As always your photos are stunning……I must meet Kaweah some day!

  9. Tony says:

    Yum! That was my absolute favorite dish at Taste of Thai in Itahca, well, chicken panang. That sauce is incredibly delicious!

  10. Georgia Pellegrini says:

    Grilled salmon just sings summer to me. A nice way to enjoy the season without soaking in the sun.

  11. My Kitchen in the Rockies says:

    Great recipe that I will have to take with me. Have some wild caught salmon in the freezer.
    My lab is also a big sun bather. He can’t get enough.

  12. Joanne says:

    I’m usually an equal opportunist when it comes to curry but in reality, penang is my favorite. Love that you served it with salmon! Definitely a match made in food heaven.

  13. Tara says:

    Yay! I don’t eat red meat (or really much poultry, either), but I will eat seafood all day, and that looks like a recipe that I WOULD eat all day! We have an Asian market just down the street – gotta get me some of that! Thanks!

  14. joudie's Mood Food says:

    Yummy. Looks so deilcious and fresh. The colours are amazing!

  15. Nan says:

    Love the curry paste in the little cans. I have several in the cupboard right now. Not reading Thai it is kind of a crap shoot for me when I purchase them. They are all so good but like Joanne above, Penang is also my favorite. I have Coconut milk too. Because, I can’t use a whole can of curry paste at one sitting, I freeze the curry paste leftovers (little teaspoon-sized lumps labeled in a baggie) until I need them. Works great and I don’t have a curry overload. The sauce is great with chicken breast chunks, sprouts, and bok choy, over rice, in winter — an exotic little vacation for your mouth.

    Now I shall try it with salmon… ummmm.

  16. Cathy says:

    Lovely photos, and a delicious recipe. Please,Jen,do not complain about the sun or heat! In western Washington we would LOVE a few days of sun, and less rain! Thanks for the great post.

  17. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    I totally identify with light fresh foods that don’t keep you in a hot kitchen. It’s 40 C and high humidity in Dubai at the moment – the only time of the year when I go off cooking. Like you I long for stews and roasts the rest of the year (even though it doesn’t ever get very cold here). Great inspiration. Love the pic of the raindrop – you are very clever.

  18. Nisrine@Dinners and Dreams says:

    The recipe looks easy and the sauce amazing!

  19. Caitlin says:

    Those are gorgeous orchids – squeeze every bit of beauty out of them! I’ve tried all sorts of curries, but yellow and masaman are probably my favorites. I’ve never had salmon w/ a curry sauce though, so this sounds wonderful!

  20. LimeCake says:

    I made a dish just like this last week, with this exact curry paste! except I added noodles to it. sort of a dry curry noodle. http://limecake.net/2010/06/05/thai-red-curry-fish-laksa/ Your photos are so beautiful!

  21. Helene says:

    I’m on the either side of the country making slurping sounds….
    Looks utterly delicious Jen. Buy and use as many orchids as you want dah’ling. Life’s too short.

  22. Bing Chou says:

    I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of lunch breaks at Pizzeria Basta – I’m a fan of wood fired pizza (who isn’t). Beautiful piece of fish in this post…

  23. siri says:

    So this looks really good. In Norway, the traditional midsummer’s dinner (which is next week!) is grilled or poached salmon with lots of fresh dill. But I love the idea of curry paste and coconut milk. And just so you know, the orchids add a nice touch to that last photo, so I would’t give you a hard time about it.

  24. Bridget says:

    Oh, I love both salmon and Thai flavors! Unfortunately, it’s often too hot down here in Carlsbad, NM, to grill at dinner time. Lately we’ve been hunkered inside being thankful for air conditioning until the sun is fully set.

  25. jenyu says:

    Dave – it’s actually a fish grilling basket and it is shaped like a whole fish :) You’re quite astute, not weird at all!

    Tony – yeah, I think Panang is moving up on my list of favorite curries. I think I love them all though.

    Nan – great tip on freezing the leftover curry, thanks! I usually make way too much for dinner so that we can enjoy it as leftovers for lunch and more dinner later (we love leftovers).

    Caitlin – yup, masaman is one of my favs too!!

    Helene – *snort* ;)

    Bing Chou – beautiful and pricey – $25/lb!! oy!

    Bridget – really? No grilling when it’s hot? I love grilling when it’s hot b/c it means no cooking inside the house (we don’t have AC – we’re not supposed to need it theoretically).

  26. Mrs Erg├╝l says:

    yum yum!! keep cool this summer! xx00

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