Radical Cooking - Pan Asian Coconut Salmon with Asparagus and Jasmine Rice


Beyond take out
Better, faster, fresher, cheaper - healthier!

Invite your gourmet pals over for bistro fare without the expense.  
That's a pretty radical idea, isn't it? 
Great food - cheap.
Bend an asparagus stalk and
it will snap right where it should.
 Discard the woody part.

In a flash (and without much work), you can whip up fancy food that is better, fresher, healthier - and cheaper.

Pan Asia is the term used when various Asian cuisines are combined to create a taste that captures the excitement of the region. 

In culinary circles, the melding of cuisines is called fusion cooking. 

You'll see the terms "fusion cooking" and "pan Asian" everywhere.
Pan Asian cooking is a fusion of Asian cuisines. 

For a global dinner party, serve this pan Asian fare with a slightly sweet Virginia wine.

Oh, yum!!!

Pan Asian Dinner Party Menu

Chilled Mango and Lime

Main Course
Coconut Salmon with Asparagus and Jasmine Rice
Virginia White Wine (see Karla's Picks below)

Lemon Sorbet with Fresh Blackberries and Homemade Butter Cookies
Iced Raspberry or Earl Grey Tea
French Roast Coffee
Stand spears upright in
1 inch water.

Karla's Wine Picks for the Pan Asia Menu

Each of these lovely wines has just enough sweetness to complement the sweetness of the coconut in the entrée.  You can't go wrong with any one you choose!

Old House Vineyards, Culpeper, VA
An Samhradh  2005   (pronounced  "on-sore-rah")

Prince Michel, Leon, VA
Semi Dry Riesling

Rogers Ford Farm Winery, Sumerduck, VA
Virginia White

Pan Asian Coconut Salmon with Asparagus and Jasmine Rice
Take the drudgery out of a dinner party by making the rice, asparagus and sauce a day ahead. 

Refrigerate them, separately, then just reheat and assemble the final dish. (The sauce actually gets better because the flavors have had a chance to blend.)

Like most fish, the salmon is best freshly prepared so cook it just before serving. 

Don't be scared by the length of the recipe.  It's long because I've given you a lot of detail and tips.  It's really quick and easy!

Serves 6-8
Cooking skill: easy (really!)
Preparation and cooking time: about 30 minutes
Uses stove top cooking plus whatever method you choose to cook the salmon


1/3 cup shredded coconut (regular, American style coconut that's used for baking)
3 cups raw jasmine rice (any rice is OK but jasmine tastes best in this recipe)
2 pounds salmon fillet (approximately - cut into 6 to 8 portions)
1 (12-14 oz) can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
2 pounds fresh asparagus (conditioned and cut into 2 inch pieces - see photos)
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled)
1 tablespoon mild red curry paste (or to taste - not yellow curry powder or paste - see Karla's Tip #1 below)

Step One:  Beginning preparation
1.  Spread shredded coconut onto a dish and microwave briefly (uncovered) until it starts to brown.  Stir to distribute browned bits.  (See Karla's Tip #2 below.)  Cool and reserve for garnish.
2.  Cook rice according to package directions.  Keep warm.
3.  Cook salmon according to one of the methods below.  Keep warm.

Cook the salmon

Grilled (For the smokey taste of summer):  Brush salmon with 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil and cook on a hot, covered grill until it flakes - about 15 minutes according to thickness. 

Poached (For salmon that's extra moist):  Put an inch of white wine, water or orange juice into a large frying pan.  Add salmon and simmer, partially covered, on the stove top until the salmon flakes - about 15 minutes according to thickness.

Oven Baked (For classic salmon, firm to the bite):  Coat a baking dish with pan spray.  Put salmon into pan and brush with 2-3 tablespoon melted butter or olive oil.  Bake, partially covered, in a preheated 350 degree oven until the salmon flakes - about 20 minutes according to thickness. 

Pan Roasted (For very firm salmon with a bit of crunch):  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan.  Cook salmon, presentation side down (See Karla's Tip #3 below) into oil until the salmon flakes and a golden crust has formed - about 8 minutes according to thickness. 

Salmon is done when it releases from the pan without effort. That's the key - without effort.   If it seems to be sticking, the crust has not yet formed so cook it a little longer.

When it easily releases from pan, turn the salmon over and cook briefly until it's opaque on the other side - a minute or two. 
Drape a plastic bag over the
 soaking asparagus and let
them "condition" before cooking.
1 hour for just picked
up to 24 hours for purchased.

Step Two: Cook the asparagus and the sauce 
While rice and salmon are cooking, heat coconut milk in a large frying pan (not cast iron). 

Add asparagus.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Cook, partially covered, until asparagus is tender but not mushy - 5 to 10 minutes.  Coconut milk boils over easily and makes a mess so watch it carefully.  Cooking time depends on the thickness of the asparagus.  Pencil thin asparagus cooks much faster than regular asparagus. 

When asparagus is tender, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the coconut milk.  Keep warm.

Whisk the orange juice and curry paste into the coconut milk and return to the boil.  Cook, uncovered, whisking until mixture is reduced by 1/3 - about 5 minutes.

Step Three: Presentation
Put cooked rice on a warmed serving platter.  (See Karla's Tip #4.) Top with cooked asparagus then cooked salmon.  Pour sauce over salmon and sprinkle with toasted coconut.


Karla's Tip #1 - Curry Paste
"Pataks" is a nationally available brand of red curry paste that's found in upscale grocery stores everywhere.  Look for it in the international food or gourmet section.  You'll find coconut milk there, too.

Karla's Tip #2 - Coconut
Toasting coconut in the microwave is not hard but it is a little different than toasting it in the oven.  In the microwave, the coconut will brown in spots rather than uniformly.  When the spots are a nice golden color, stop microwaving and quickly stir to distribute the browned bits.  More browning will occur without additional microwaving.  This is a good method to use when you only need a little coconut or don't want to heat up the oven.

Karla's Tip #3 - Cooking Term - "Presentation Side"
Presentation side of the salmon means the side without the skin (if there is skin) or the better looking side (if there is no skin).  It's the side you want people to see when serving.

Karla's Tip #4 - Warming the Platter
Putting hot food on a warm platter is a nice touch. 
Your platter does not have to be sizzling - just warm enough to take the chill off.

There are several ways to warm a platter. 
(Make sure your platter is heat proof.)
Here are two:

  • Put your serving platter into the oven and set the temperature on the lowest.  (No need to preheat.)  Five minutes later, turn off the oven but leave the platter in the oven until you're ready for it.  Depending on the oven, the platter will keep warm for about an hour allowing plenty of time for preparation.
  • Put 2 to 3 inches of water into a pot that's smaller than your platter. Put the pot on the stove and position the platter across the top of the pot.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Reduce the heat so the water stays warm but doesn't evaporate or boil out.  The platter will be warm whem you're ready for it. 


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