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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

A one-pot salmon and rice dish you’ll turn to again and again

A one-pot salmon and rice with coconut milk and greens in New York, Dec. 19, 2022. For the simplest one-pot meal, fish and grains steam in the same pot, at the same time, on the stovetop.


Salmon is one of those pliant proteins that you can successfully cook almost any way you want. Sear it hot and fast, until the skin crisps and the fillet browns. Roast it low and slow, covered in olive oil until it collapses into a silky confit. Or swathe it in aromatics and steam it, letting it cook gently while it suffuses with flavor. It’s all good: Salmon’s happy to go with the flow.

For this one-pot salmon and rice dish, I went the steaming route because it is the easiest way to get dinner on the table and can be the most flavorful.

The idea started with a pot of coconut rice, a staple side at our house that we sometimes eat plain and pristine, and other times zipped up with spices and vegetables. Since there was an open can of green curry paste in the fridge, I added some to the rice, along with a handful of spinach, scallions and loads of cilantro.

Usually, while a pot of rice simmers, I’ll separately cook whatever protein we’re having, be it a sheet pan of chicken or sausages, or a couple of skillet-fried eggs.

But since salmon’s so easygoing, draping the fillets right on top of the rice to steam struck me as the simplest way to go, with the fewest dishes to wash afterward.

I coated the salmon with the rest of the green curry. After the rice had cooked about halfway, I added the fish to the pot, covered it and let it slowly cook until everything was done at the same time. It made for a zero-fuss weeknight meal that, because of the lively depth of flavor from the curry paste, tasted a lot more elaborate than it really was.

Bear in mind that different brands of rice absorb water differently, so their cooking times can vary. If your rice looks dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, be sure to add more water. On the other hand, if the salmon is done before the rice, just transfer the fish to a plate, tent with an overturned bowl or foil to keep warm, and continue to cook the rice until done.

Then serve it all forth. It’s a laid-back, crowd-pleasing meal that didn’t send you swimming upstream.

Green curry salmon with coconut rice

Sweet coconut milk tempers the fiery pungency of Thai green curry paste in this easy one-pot salmon and rice meal. Fresh scallions and cilantro add herbal freshness, while chopped baby spinach makes the whole thing even greener. Note that different brands of rice absorb different amounts of water, so don’t be afraid to add more water as needed.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour


1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillets

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons green curry paste

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (or use a neutral oil, such as canola)

1 bunch scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk

1 3/4 cups sushi rice or other short-grain rice, rinsed well

2 cups chopped baby spinach

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

Lime wedges, for serving


1. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper, and spread 1 tablespoon curry paste all over the fillets. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven over medium. Stir in scallion whites and most of the greens, reserving 2 tablespoons scallion greens for garnish. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

3. Stir in coconut milk, remaining 3 tablespoons green curry, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir in rinsed rice and reduce heat to low. Let simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold in spinach, cilantro and a pinch of salt. If the rice looks dry and threatens to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons more water.

4. Place salmon filets on top of rice, raise heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until salmon is just cooked through, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness.

5. Remove from heat and taste rice for doneness. If the salmon is done before the rice, gently remove the fish from the pan using a metal spatula, transfer to a plate and tent with an overturned bowl or foil to keep warm, then continue to cook rice until tender, adding more water if the rice seems dry. Taste and season with salt as needed. Squeeze a lime wedge over the salmon and serve immediately, garnished with reserved scallions and more lime wedges on the side.

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