This is one of my favourite dishes to serve when I have friends over. Take a side of salmon, make a beautiful homemade curry paste to go with it and BAM – you have a dish worthy of a dinner party with loved ones.
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 long red chilli, roughly chopped
1 x 800g (1.7 lb) salmon fillet
2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying, plus 1 tbsp extra for stir-frying the paste
¼ cup tamarind paste/concentrate
60g (2 oz) palm sugar, if using the firm blocks, shave it with a knife
1½ tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
3 spring onions (scallions), cut into batons
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, chillies and ½ teaspoon of salt to a rough paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside for later.
Pat the skin side of the salmon with paper towel, then season salmon with salt on both sides.
Add the 2 tbsp of oil to a non-stick frying pan. Heat over high heat. Place the salmon skin-side down in the pan. While it’s cooking, place a piece of baking paper over the salmon then place a heavy pan over the top. This will help ensure that you get a lovely crispy skin on your salmon. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and turn over the salmon in the pan to allow the residual heat to cook the salmon through. If you like, you can finish cooking the salmon in a pre-heated oven at 200C for a few minutes, then remove from the pan and place the salmon on a platter.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a clean wok or large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic chilli paste and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Then add the tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has turned translucent and shiny. Drizzle sauce over the crispy salmon and top with spring onion to serve.