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This easy Thai-inspired salmon coconut curry has tender pan-seared salmon in a creamy red curry coconut milk sauce. It’s super flavorful and comforting!

If you enjoy these flavors, you may also like this Easy Thai Shrimp Curry, my Thai Sweet Potato Coconut Red Curry, or Thai Chicken Curry.

a cast iron skillet with salmon coconut curry

Why you’ll love it

Pan-frying salmon is a skill that’s simple for home cooks to learn, and one of the most impressive ways to serve salmon is this red curry. Thai-style flavors are often a go-to for quick weeknight meals for me since they’re so fragrant and delicious.

I can’t resist a good coconut milk sauce, and there’s lots of sauce here! Thai red curry paste, extra garlic, onion, a bit of fish sauce, and lime juice is a symphony of flavors dancing on your tastebuds. Throw in some veggies and herbs, and it’s the perfect dish.

What you’ll need

  • Salmon – we’re using fresh salmon cut into four smaller pieces
  • Olive oil and butter – for pan frying
  • Onion and garlic – I like using sweet (Vidalia) onions, and add even more garlic if you’re a big fan
  • Thai red curry paste – it has red chili peppers, bright lemongrass, and spices. I buy Thai Kitchen brand, which is mild, but be aware that some brands are spicy.
  • Fish sauce – you don’t have to add it, but if you haven’t tried it before, I strongly recommend it. It adds another layer of flavor to the dish. Don’t worry, the flavor mellows out a lot (it smells quite fishy out of the bottle). It also lasts a long time in the fridge!
  • Full-fat coconut milk – for the rich, velvety quality of the sauce and to keep the fish tender
  • Brown sugar – it balances out all the flavors without making it sweet
  • Carrots and broccolini – for added nutrition, texture, and color. I used the pre-cut matchstick-cut carrots for convenience, but you can definitely julienne them yourself (or cut them into very thin rings). You can use regular broccoli if you wish, but be sure to cut it into small pieces so it cooks fast as well.
  • Lime juice – a little acidity and burst of citrus flavor
  • Basil and cilantro – these fresh herbs finish it all off for a pop of herb-y flavor
ingredients for salmon coconut curry in prep bowls

Pro tips

  • The coconut milk you buy really matters. I prefer Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk. It’s rich and creamy. Other brands I’ve found can be watery. You can find it in the Asian section of the grocery store along with the red curry paste and fish sauce.
  • Pan-searing salmon isn’t difficult, but it can be stressful if it’s sticking to the pan when you want to flip it. Some tips to avoid that from happening: pat the salmon dry, ensure the pan is good and hot, don’t move the fish around the pan, and let it cook a little longer so it releases naturally.

How to make Thai coconut salmon curry

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

pan frying salmon in a skillet and sauteing onions and red curry paste

Cut the salmon, pat dry, and season with salt & pepper. Pan fry skin-side down, then flip it. Transfer it to a plate, and remove the skin if desired. Spoon out the oil less one tablespoon. Sauté the onion until golden, then stir in the garlic and curry paste.

adding coconut milk, fresh herbs, and salmon into a skillet for salmon coconut curry

After cooking for a minute, add in the fish sauce, coconut milk, sugar, carrots, and broccolini. Let it gently bubble until the veggies are tender-crisp. Stir in the lime juice, and return the salmon. Warm through, add extra salt & pepper if needed, and top with the fresh basil and cilantro.

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

Substitutions and variations

  • Swap out the carrots and broccoli for something different if you want; just be sure they’re cut up small enough that they cook fast. Try peas (or snow peas), red bell peppers, and or even cut-up asparagus.
  • Try adding some chopped fresh Thai chilis or some dried red pepper flakes if you like it spicy!
  • If you’re not a cilantro person, feel free to leave it out. You could also garnish the dish with scallions if you like.

What to serve with Thai salmon curry

  • You can’t go wrong serving this coconut curry salmon with rice to soak up all that yummy creamy broth. Try jasmine or basmati.
  • Eat it as-is with a slice of fresh crusty bread or naan or roti bread, or make lettuce cups. I ended up eating the leftover salmon cold in a salad the next day, and that worked out nicely as well!
  • Craving salad to complement this curry? Try my Thai Quinoa Salad.

Leftovers and storage

  • Store any leftover salmon curry in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • Reheat over a low heat in a saucepan slowly until warmed through.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this one. The texture of both the fish and the vegetables will change.
a plate with salmon red curry over jasmine rice with a lime wedge

If you tried this salmon curry with coconut milk, please leave a star rating and review below! Questions? Talk to me. You can also find me on Instagram

a cast iron skillet with salmon coconut curry
4.90 from 48 votes

Salmon Coconut Curry

This easy Thai-inspired salmon coconut curry has tender pan-seared salmon in a creamy red curry coconut milk sauce. It's super flavorful and comforting!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound fresh salmon
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional but recommended, see note)
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup matchstick cut carrots
  • 1 heaping cup chopped broccolini
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons torn/chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions 

  • Cut the salmon into 4 equal pieces. Pat both sides dry with paper towel and season with salt & pepper.
  • Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pan heat up for a few minutes.
  • Cook the salmon, skin-side down, for 5 minutes. Flip it and cook for another 2-3 minutes (the fish should be almost done). If the fish is sticking at any point, give it a little longer to release naturally (don't force it).
  • Take the salmon out of the pan and transfer it to a plate. If you don't want to eat the salmon skin, you can easily slide it off before adding the salmon back into the pan.
  • Spoon some of the oil out of the skillet so you have about a tablespoon of it left in there.
  • Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for about 3 minutes (should be getting lightly browned), then stir in the garlic and curry paste and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the fish sauce, coconut milk, sugar, carrots, and broccolini. Let it gently bubble for about 5 minutes or so. The veggies should be tender-crisp, but you can cook them for a little longer if you prefer.
  • Stir in the lime juice, then add the fish back to the pan. Let it warm through for a couple of minutes. Season with more salt & pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the basil and cilantro and serve immediately.

Notes

  • I used Thai Kitchen coconut milk and highly recommend it because it’s thick and creamy and not watery like some other brands. I also used Thai Kitchen red curry paste. 
  • If you don’t want to buy fish sauce just for this recipe, you can swap with soy sauce, but it won’t have quite the same effect. I always keep some in my fridge… it really enhances Asian-inspired cooking!
  • You can chop (julienne) your own carrots vs. using the pre-cut kind that I did and use broccoli instead of broccolini… just be sure to cut everything very small.

Nutrition

Calories: 458kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 176mg, Potassium: 837mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 5392IU, Vitamin C: 59mg, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

Leave a star rating and comment below!

This recipe was originally published on September 25, 2020. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!


Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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123 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It was delicious! Unfortunately, we didn’t have coconut milk, so we had to use regular milk and added a bit of coconut oil and coconut flakes. That worked well. But I bet it’s even better with coconut milk. Thank you for great recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    This was amazing! I used coconut aminos instead of fish sauce and we broke up the Salmon in the curry. Delicious, A Keeper!

  3. 4 stars
    We eat a lot of salmon, living on a small island of the Washington coast. First time trying this recipe. Very impressed. No fresh basil but a spoon of pesto worked fine. Will repeat.

  4. I made this for my parents and husband. They absolutely loved it! Thank you! I was able to impress without killing myself!

  5. Tried it this evening and it out delicious. I used peppers instead of broccolini and I omitted the brown sugar since carrots and peppers already have a swt taste. It’s an easy recipe and super yummy. Thank you for sharing it 🙂

  6. 3 stars
    This was an average curry recipe. I followed the recipe to the T and it fell short on flavor. I’m sure the leftovers will be better as it can marinate together more. It did plate beautifully.