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November 13, 2011 / Tony

Coconut Marinated Salmon over Refried Black Beans with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

There is a certain allure to remembering and reinventing an old favorite recipe.  One can often have concurrent feelings of nostalgia and surprise, evoking a sense of connectedness with one’s own culinary past.  Last night, I reinvented Coconut-Lime Shrimp over Black Bean Cakes.  As you can tell from the picture, it was a wholesale reinvention.  Salmon takes the place of shrimp and the black bean cake is now the simplest refried black bean.  The spicy cilantro sauce remains almost the same but I tamed the salinity by reducing the amount of soy sauce.  The result was stellar.  The heat and acidity of the sauce pairs beautifully with the cooling coconut flavor in the salmon and perks up what would have been otherwise bland refried beans.  The marinade’s basil, garlic and ginger add just enough flavor to make things interesting and infuse the salmon with enough punch to stand up to the cilantro in the sauce.  It is simply delicious.  Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Marinated Salmon over Refried Black Beans with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Coconut Marinated Salmon

1 T dried basil

1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

2 large garlic cloves

juice from 1 lime

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)

About 1 lb of salmon filets

Combine all ingredients except salmon in a food processor and process until smooth.  Combine the marinade with the salmon in a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.  Refrigerate and marinate for 2 hours.

Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Remove the salmon from the marinade and pat the salmon dry.  Cook the salmon in the pan on both sides until the desired doneness is reached, about 8 minutes total.  If necessary, finish the cooking in a 400 degree oven so the salmon doesn’t overbrown. 

Spicy Cilantro Sauce

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 jalapeno chile

Freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until almost smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Simplest Refried Black Beans

Cooked black beans, drained if in liquid

Vegetable oil

Heat the oil in a skillet.  Add the beans and cook till heated through.  Mash with a potato masher until the mixture looks like paste.  Add water (or stock) if desired.  Keep warm until ready to serve. 


Place some refried black beans on a plate.  Shingle the salmon over the black beans and ladle with the spicy cilantro sauce.  Add a vegetable or extra sauce to the plate if desired.  Pass additional sauce on the side. 

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