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Sumatra-Style Roasted Salmon
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Indonesian cooking ranks among the most flavorful and varied in the world, and features the lively blends of spices typical of equatorial cuisines from Brazil to Bombay.

Today’s recipe is adapted from one served at the Saucebox restaurant in Portland, Oregon and published in the September 2002 issue of Bon Appétit.

The original instructions call for cornstarch, but you could use arrowroot or kuzu powder instead, which are found in Japanese groceries and some natural foods stores.

You can also use virgin coconut oil in place of all or some of the butter, which will produce a dish redolent with a flavor characteristic of much southeast Asian and Indonesian cooking.

Just under half of the fat in coconut oil is in the form of medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric acid, which the body converts into energy, rather than storing as fat.

Lauric acid also raises metabolism, probably by stimulating release of enzymes in the intestinal tract that activate otherwise dormant thyroidal hormones.

Nor does coconut oil elevate “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, although, as we're reported, the links between cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease risk are weak and highly inconsistent anyway.


Sumatra-Style Roasted Salmon with Spinach

Today’s recipe can be halved or quartered. If you reduce the amount of Salmon and spinach, we suggest that you still make the full complement of sauce, as it will be difficult to handle the very small proportions that would result.

Serves 8

Sauce ingredients
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup natural tamari soy sauce
2 teaspoon arrowroot or kuzu powder (or cornstarch), dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Salmon ingredients
1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
8 (6 oz) wild Alaskan Salmon fillet portions

Spinach ingredients
12 oz baby spinach, washed and dried
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and organic ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.

  • Melt 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil) in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  • Add cayenne pepper and garlic and stir about 1 minute.

  • Add sugar and whisk until mixture is melted and bubbles, about 4 minutes.

  • Whisk in lime juice and soy sauce, increase heat, and boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 2 minutes.

  • Add starch mixture and boil until thick, about 3 minutes. Set sauce aside.

  • Heat another large skillet medium, and add 1 tablespoons olive oil.

  • Add the Salmon portions, and cook 2 minutes per side. (Add only as much Salmon at a time as will fit in the pan.)

  • Transfer Salmon to a baking dish, spoon 1 Tbsp of sauce over each Salmon portion, and roast at 400 F for 5 minutes, until just barely opaque in the center. (Do not overcook.)

  • Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add spinach and toss until wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes.

  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Using tongs, divide spinach among 8 plates. Top each spinach portion with a Salmon fillet; drizzle with remaining sauce and serve.


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