crispy salmon with soy tamarind sauce over sautéed spinach

Crispy Salmon with Soy Tamarind Sauce Over Sautéed Spinach

I love this recipe because the salmon is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The salmon is coated in cornstarch and pan-fried until a crisp, outer shell forms and then it is served with a side of garlic sautéed spinach and jasmine rice topped with a sweet and sour soy tamarind sauce. (Tamarind is a tree that produces a pod-like fruit that tastes similar to lime but with more sweet and tart flavor.)

This recipe is based on a dish at one of my favorite restaurants in New Jersey, Origin, an eatery specializing in French and Thai fusion food. It’s at the top of my list of stops to make every time I go home. Sometimes my mom even picks it up for me before coming to get me from the airport. It’s one of those restaurants where everyone knows exactly what their order is.

And so, when I make crispy salmon, I think of home. Everyone gathers around our big kitchen table (the dining room is reserved for special occasions, usually holidays) – and there are always extra chairs available to accommodate friends who drop in at the last minute. Each person grabs their “usual” from some takeout bags and we all start telling stories and eating, everyone talking over each other and laughing. No, I don’t have a large family, there is actually just my mom, my dad, my brother and me in our immediate family but we have many friends that have become part of our extended family. And food and family, immediate and extended, make for a wonderful combination.



For the soy tamarind sauce:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons tamarind paste* 

¼ (packed) cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Kosher salt, to taste


For the sautéed spinach:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces baby spinach, washed and dried

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the crispy salmon:

1 pound salmon filet, cut into 4 servings

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


4 cups cooked jasmine rice, for serving



For the soy tamarind sauce:

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat through. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, tamarind, brown sugar, fish sauce and 6 tablespoons of water, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Season with salt then remove from heat and set aside.


For the sautéed spinach:

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.


For the crispy salmon:

Slice fillet of salmon into 4 equal pieces. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornstarch over pieces and pat so that it covers all parts of the salmon. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Once hot, shake off excess cornstarch from salmon then add the fillets of salmon skin side down in the pan. Sear the salmon on each side until cooked through. Be careful that the oil doesn’t spatter, if it begins to spatter, turn the heat down to medium.

Remove the salmon from the pan and place on paper towels to drain any excess oil.


To serve: Peel off the skin and serve the salmon on a bed of rice and the spinach. Ladle the tamarind sauce over the top.


Serves 4.


*Note: Tamarind paste can be found at specialty grocery stores and most Whole Foods in the Asian foods section.



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