AP – For centuries, the channel of ocean running between Mozambique and Madagascar provided passage and port to ships during the height of the spice trade. The results were delicious, combining local seafood and coconut with rich spice blends for seafood curries.
We borrow from that tradition – inspired by a recipe in In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hassan – for this simple one-skillet recipe from our book Cook What You Have, which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals.
Instead of mackerel, we use salmon fillets and pair them with a saucy mix of vegetables simmered in coconut milk. A small measure of curry powder, a stand-in for the Somali spice blend called xawaash, flavours the dish and gives the sauce a pale golden hue.
Don’t let the sauce reach a simmer after returning the salmon to the skillet. Gentle heat – just enough to create steam – is all that’s needed to cook the fillets so that they remain moist and tender. Serve with steamed rice.
SALMON IN COCONUT-CURRY SAUCE
– Four six-ounce centre-cut salmon fillets
– Kosher salt and ground black pepper
– One tablespoon coconut oil
– Four scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately
– Four medium garlic cloves, minced
– One pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
– Two medium carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
– One teaspoon curry powder
– 14-ounce canned coconut milk
– Two jalapeño chillies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
– One tablespoon lime juice
Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the salmon flesh side down, then immediately reduce to medium. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, four to six minutes.
Using a wide, thin spatula, transfer the salmon browned-side up to a plate.
Return the skillet to medium-high and add the scallion whites and the garlic.
Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, one to two minutes. Add the tomatoes, carrots, curry powder and half teaspoon salt; cook, stirring, until the liquid released by the tomatoes has almost evaporated, about five minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk, chilies and quarter cup water, then bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are softened, six to nine minutes.
Stir in the lime juice and return the salmon, skin side down, to the pan. Cover, reduce to low and cook until the thickest parts of the fillets reach 120°F or are nearly opaque when cut into, three to five minutes. Off heat, taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens.