Salmon Stew, and Siskins


pine siskins are in town! if you have goldfinches (non-streaked, right) this winter, watch for these little northern finches tagging along at the feeder

Maybe it was the siskins. The sight of these little northern visitors, so far from their usual summer stomping grounds, always causes me to sit up and take notice. It’s exciting! The little siskins brought me back to the thrill of bird-watching in my own backyard, and I think, indirectly, back to the thrill of cooking in my own kitchen.

With cooking, like bird-watching, you never know what may appear πŸ˜‰


pop-quiz: find the siskin!

I don’t know what’s gotten into me over the past six months. I started a new job in August, and the days when I was energized *after work* were lost in the shuffle.

The new job is far better — don’t get me wrong — but I confess, I do miss the leisure time I had at the old job, where I could read up on recipes and then take a long lunch hour to shop! I used to have Indian groceries close to work — now it takes a special trip on the weekend to get my fresh veggies and replenish my spices.

Moan, groan, complain! πŸ˜‰

Busy at work is no excuse for my laziness — but the result has been weeks filled with endless thrown-together veggie soups, the occasional chole made with ready-mix — and of course, sambhar.

What would I have done without dear ISG’s magic sambhar powder, all these long lean months! πŸ™‚

Tonight I decided to treat myself to a home-cooked meal — with fresh spices and indulgent coconut.

I was craving fish, so bought myself a small piece of salmon when I went to lunch today.


fresh salmon

Temps are in the single digits here, so there was no danger that the fish would spoil in my car for a few hours. Driving home this evening, I thought of the wonderful fish dishes at Malabar Spices. Then I remembered the wonderful South Indian red chillies that Mallugirl herself sent me for Arusuvai, way back when. I still had a few in the cupboard…

I dropped into Malabar Spices and did a little reading, then I got out the camera and started cooking.

HA — that last sentence sounds a little crazy, but it’s true! The creative circle never disappears. No matter that I’ve been off acting lazy — your blogs inspire me to cook, and cooking inspires me to blog.

This ended up sort of a mix of S’s yummy-sounding fish molee and goan curry. The veggies I used made it reminiscent of Nana’s Fourth-of-July-salmon-with-peas-and-potatoes, but alot more flavorful. Thank you Mallugirl, for the inspiration and for the fiery chillies! πŸ˜‰


freshly roasted coriander, cumin, and south indian red chillies

Salmon Stew

1/2 lb skinless salmon fillet
1 c coconut milk (I used the light version, from a can)

For the veggies:
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
2-3 small potatoes, sliced

For the paste:
1 TB coriander seeds
1 TB cumin seeds
3-4 hot red chillies
3-4 cloves garlic

For the seasonings:
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 green chilies, slit
5-6 curry leaves
bit of tamarind extract

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp jaggery
salt to taste
splash of lime juice

Roast the coriander, cumin and red chilles in a nonstick pan until fragrant. Blend with the garlic and a little water to make a paste. Set aside.

Spray the same pan with Pam and brown the mushrooms over high heat. Remove to a small bowl and add the potatoes. Brown them on medium heat, and remove to another bowl. Finally, brown the fish over medium-low heat, just to sear the outside, and remove it to a plate.

In a medium sauce pan heat the coconut oil. Add the chopped onion, sliced garlic, curry leaves and green chiles.


onion, garlic, green chilies and curry leaves

Cook until the onion begins to brown, then add the spice paste. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring well. When the paste is fragrant, add the tamarind extract and cook another few minutes. Then add the coconut milk. Simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes, then add jaggery and salt to taste. Stir well, then add fish and the browned mushrooms and potatoes.


simmering salmon stew

Simmer again, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Finally, stir in a splash of lime juice.

I had this over rice cooked with a little salt, turmeric, and green peas. Yum!


salmon stew with green-pea rice ~ served on American Pioneer glass by Liberty Works, circa 1931


fragrant, freshly-made spice paste ~ how I have missed this!



  1. indosungod said

    Linda, glad to see you back and you chose the coldest day in a decade to do it πŸ™‚ The salmon stew looks delicious, now I am craving some. I was looking at some soup recipes with fish, I should make this instead.

    I think I saw a few of those too in the backyard but I am not a bird watcher so can’t say for sure. The birds are always a delight a few cardinals and orioles that we see around here light up the day.

    Hi ISG — it’s so great to think of you having orioles this time of year! If I am lucky I have one in the woods out back in summer only. Cardinals, they are here year round — pretty red on the white snow.

    This morning I looked at the temp and thought, oh, 11 — warmer than yesterday — well it was 11 *below*, my error! Hope you’re all keeping warm πŸ™‚

  2. Asha said

    Man! It’s 10F today and we are expecting snow on Monday!! Still sunny though but very chilly. It’s hard for kids at the bus stop. They have Monday off, so they are good already!:)

    Hope you read my comment in your last post I left y’day! πŸ™‚

    That photo is beautiful, you do have a great camera. I had a huge Owl sitting in my garage last month, had a heart attack at first glance and then took a photo. Indians consider it bad luck but I don’t care, loved the confused and scared bird, it flew away after 5 mnts! πŸ˜€

    Salmon stew looks delicious. Indian spice might make it a bit heavy with that delicate Salmon but I am sure it tasted wonderful. The only Seafood I would willingly order at the restaurant is Salmon!!

    Hi Asha! Indeed I saw your comment and left you a reply at same. How exciting!!! And how exciting to have an owl! I saw a great horned owl near the little river down the road — first time I’ve seen one in the wild. I’m glad you didn’t mind yours πŸ™‚

    I thought the salmon might be overpowered too, but the coconut milk and oil really mellowed the chilies so it was more flavor than heat. Salmon held up nicely πŸ™‚

    You had 10 today! It’s cold everywhere — 11 below this morn when I took m. to school and getting back close to that now. Stay warm!

  3. Happy Cook said

    Wow that salmon dish blooks so creamy and yummy delicious.
    I love salmon, but I have never made them with spices.
    I should give it a try.

    Thanks HC — it turned out really delicious. I think the coconut milk helped mellow the spices πŸ™‚

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