Easy Massaman Salmon or Steelhead Curry

Easy Massaman Salmon or Steelhead Curry

Massaman curries are mild, yet bursting with Thai flavors, and this dish is no exception. It’s a tantalizingly  delicious way to prepare a fillet of salmon or steelhead trout. And you’ll have enough delicious sauce to serve with rice. The sauce goes together so quickly that the dish deserves to be called easy Massaman salmon or steelhead curry. 

delicious easy Massaman Thai salmon or steelhead curry on white platter

If you have never tried Massaman curry before, you are in for a treat. I wrote more about it in my post Massaman curry-stuffed sweet potatoes, and won’t go on at length here. It’s typically used for beef and potato curries, but is outstanding with fish.

But suffice to say that it is a mellow golden curry that you can make at home. Mae Ploy is the brand I have seen for sale most often. The Maesri brand offers a vegan paste as I noted in my recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes.

fillet of salmon with skin being removed for easy massaman thai salmon curry

Salmon or Steelhead

I have been a fan of steelhead trout for nearly a year now, and routinely buy it instead of salmon for recipes like this. I had been buying wild salmon before that but learned that salmon is not considered sustainable according to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainability list. Farmed salmon is too toxic and MUCH less nutritious than wild, so that is out.

Enter farmed steelhead trout, which is sustainable and does not have the PCB’s in farmed salmon. It’s in the same family as salmon so has many of the same nutritional benefits. It’s tender and delicious and adaptable to the same cooking methods as you’d use with salmon.

Steelhead fillets are sold with the skin on. To remove the skin, sear the fillet skin-side down in a hot pan for about 3 minutes. Then you can slide a thin spatula between the skin and the flesh and remove it.

sauce in Cuisinart pan for easy massaman thai salmon curry

The sauce gets its creaminess from coconut milk, spiciness from the curry paste and bursts of flavor from lime and herbs.

If you can’t locate Massaman curry and want to make this dish soon, red curry paste would be the closest in flavor.

delicious massaman thai salmon curry pinterest tall collage

If you have a chance to try this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it went!


Other delicious recipes for fish on A Meal In Mind

Almond-Crusted Steelhead or Salmon Tacos

Miso-Lemon Baked Steelhead Trout

Veracruz Style Steelhead or Salmon

Almond Flour Crusted Salmon

Garlic Dijon-Herb Salmon Baked in Parchment

Shop easy Massaman salmon or steelhead curry

pan spatula coconut oil fish sauce

Links to products for purchase are affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission on the sale at no additional cost to you. This helps me with the costs of blogging, and I thank you!

easy massaman thai salmon curry on white platter

Easy Massaman Salmon or Steelhead Curry

  • Author: Beth of A Meal In Mind
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Fish main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai


Massaman curries are mild yet bursting with Thai flavors, and this dish is no exception. It’s a tantalizingly  delicious way to prepare a fillet of salmon or steelhead trout.



  • 1 pound boneless steelhead or wild salmon
  • 2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Massaman curry paste for a mild flavor, up to 6 tablespoons for a medium-to-spicy level
  • ¼ tsp pink sea (or kosher) salt
  • 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 12 tablespoons lime juice (1/2 medium lime)
  • 4 sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons each cilantro, basil, coarsely chopped, for garnish
  • lime wedges


  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan (large enough to fit the fish fillet) over medium heat. 
  2. Place the fish skin-side down into the heated oil and cook for 3 minutes. Carefully slide a spatula between the skin and the fish. Lift the fish out of the pan onto a clean plate. Remove the skin from the pan and the fish and discard, keeping as much fish oil and olive oil in the pan as possible. 
  3. Return the heat to medium if the pan has cooled. Add the curry paste and sea salt. Stir, continuously, for 45 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the coconut milk and whisk until completely mixed. 
  5. Bring to a boil and immediately add the fish, former skin side up.
  6. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (depending on thickness), spooning sauce over the fish periodically. If your fish will hold together well enough, gently slide your spatula underneath and turn it skin side down. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes more until desired doneness.
  7. Once fish is cooked to your preference, remove it from pan to your desired serving platter.
  8. Return sauce to medium heat and reduce for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently until it reduces and thickens.
  9. Remove the sauce from heat, stir in fish sauce and lime juice.
  10. Serve salmon or steelhead with Massaman curry sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with sliced green onions, cilantro and basil and lime wedges on the side.


See recipe for Massaman Curry-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes to go with the fish.

Keywords: salmon, steelhead trout, fish dinner, Thai fish meal, gluten-free, dairy-free, coconut milk, Massaman curry, Thai curry

Pin for later! 


pinterest collage 2 of easy massaman salmon thai curry  pinterest collage 3 for easy massaman salmon thai curry

4 part pinterest collage of massaman salmon thai curry


27 thoughts on “Easy Massaman Salmon or Steelhead Curry”

    • Christy, I’m impressed that you’ve heard of it – not many shops carry it. I can see it would be great with tofu, too. But it’s a great complement to salmon’s mild flavor.

  • I currently have a coconut curry meal in the slow cooker! I can’t wait to eat it and I think I might have to use this recipe next time I’m in the mood for curry

    • Mmm, coconut curries are the best. The Massaman has a wonderful, unique flavor and color that I love, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

    • Jacqueline, I have also had Massaman with beef and with potatoes but apparently this is a bit unusual. It is easy to prepare and delicious, though, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

    • Harriet, thank you so much for that wonderful comment! My goal is truly to make them look as good as they are, so happy to hear it might be the case.

  • Thanks for all the great info comparing Steelhead Trout to Salmon, some of which I didn’t know. I’ve got to give this recipe a try, once I purchase some Massaman Curry!

    • Sonila, you are more than welcome. My son and his wife still prefer the salmon, but I can imagine other fish would be good with this curry paste. I’ve heard (from Nart) that fish is not typically prepared this way, but it was a hit around here.

    • Simone, you are more than welcome. I am still just a little shy of eating farmed fish but my information came from trusted sources. I think the curry paste would be good on other fish, too, though I understand (from Nart) that it’s not typical to use Massaman with fish. See what you think!

  • My husband and I love massaman curry, usually we eat it with chicken but this salmon massaman curry looks so appetizing. I have to try it!! I have never had massaman with salmon but now I’m curious. Saving the recipe for later. Thank you

    • Sonila, I can imagine it would be wonderful with chicken, too, as both it and salmon take up other flavors pretty well. I’m impressed that you have tried Massaman, since it’s harder to find than the red, green or yellow pastes.

    • Dear Nart, I would certainly be interested in what you think of it, if you decide to try it. I’ve also seen recipes with beef and massaman. My son and daughter-in-law really liked the curry I made with the sweet potatoes, since they don’t eat so many potatoes these days. 😉

  • I never thought to use fish with curry. You have me intrigued since I eat salmon often. Looking forward to giving this sauce a try.

    • Shari, I really thought it was great, plus being so easy! I’d be interested to see what your impressions are if and when you get a chance.

    • Lathiya, thank you so much for that compliment! I confess the sauce was so good that i licked it off the plate when the fish was gone. I’m sure that if you made it, it would be amazing!

  • Yes, please! I do so love curry and some weekends we travel a couple of hours to our favorite restaurant to enjoy and indulgent authentic curry lunch. Your recipe looks fabulous and I love the tips, thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Angela, thank you! We don’t have a favorite Thai restaurant nearby, which is probably why I’m trying my hand at my own. Thanks so much for your comments about the recipe and tips!

  • Made this recipe and my family loved it. They went back for seconds and more rice to spoon the sauce on top. It was easy. I added the lime juice and fish sauce towards the end of cooking the fish. I also sprinkled the herbs on top of the fish in the pan. These steps made it easier than removing the fish from the pan. I also used a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

    • Karmen, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this dish as much as we did, including going back for seconds and sauce. I always like to see how others have adjusted the recipe, like not removing the fish from the pan, and thickening the sauce. I find the type of coconut milk also makes a difference in the thickness of the sauce – maybe you have too. Thank you so much for this comment!

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