One of our restaurant’s best selling dishes, this Thai Coconut Chicken is redolent with the tastes and smells of a tropical island. Creamy coconut milk, a blast of citrus from lemongrass, and juicy chicken make this an incredibly satisfying dish. And it’s so quick! Served read more
We have heard a lot lately about seafood sustainability. One of the best ways to promote healthy oceans is to eat lower on the seafood chain. Less tuna, more tiny fishies. Sardines are a delicious way to do just that. Mild and meaty, they are also an economical and convenient choice: no special trip to a trusted seafood market, just grab a few cans off the shelf from your regular grocery store. Best of all, this Southeast Asian inspired Sardine Salad is ready in only 15 minutes! Perfect for those really steamy days when you can’t face a hot kitchen.
Sardines For Health
Eating sardines isn’t just better for the oceans, it’s also a super healthy addition to your diet. They boast some of the highest amounts of heart healthy Omega-3’s, and they are a calcium powerhouse too. Because sardines largely eat plankton, they also have the least amount of mercury.
I admit, I was not a canned sardine fan. My daughters and husband eat it straight out of a can. But there was something unappealing about it to me. Then one day, one of our servers, who always brought some things from home for lunch, asked me to try her sardine salad. I’m always interested in what other people make and eat, so of course I tried some, not really thinking I would like it. But I was wrong. The bright sharp flavors and the Thai level spiciness really made an impression. So this is a riff on Kai’s salad.
I know many people are squeamish when it comes to eating fish with skin and bones. Well the marketing gods must have heard you because they now have sardines that are skinless and boneless. Tastes just like chicken, right-ok not quite. But if you like canned tuna, enjoy anchovies in Caesar dressing, or use fish sauce like a champ, then you’re a good candidate to try this salad. And when you pack it full of other flavors, how could you resist?
Sardine Salad with an Asian Twist
There are lots of fish salad recipes, and they have all the usual suspects for ingredients. Mayo, celery, a dash of lemon juice. Boring! This one is spiced up with exciting and unexpected South Asian ingredients. You get a blast of flavor from ginger, lemongrass, shallots, lots of fresh lime juice, and fresh herbs. Use your sharpest knife to finely mince it all; no one wants huge chunks of raw ginger . (If you aren’t a funky subscriber, sign up here and get our free knife sharpening tutorial)
We like things hot in my family, so I added some jalapeno pepper. If you don’t like it spicy, you can just omit it.
When you have all the seasonings minced, mix them well in a large bowl before adding the sardines. Once you add the fish, you want to mix very gently. The sardines are delicate and we don’t want them breaking up too much. This isn’t a mashed salad.
I go a little easier on the salt in my sardine salad because canned fish tends to run salty. So taste and then season accordingly. You can chill this in the fridge for a while before serving. Sardine Salad pairs beautifully with Funky Spicy Green Beans for a light, fresh, and easy supper. You can also try it as a filling for lettuce wraps! If you make this zesty sardine salad, we want to hear about it! Rate the recipe and leave a comment below, or tag us on instagram @funkyasiankitchen.
For more seafood favorites, check out our seafood archives!
- 3 cans of sardines (preferably skinned and boned)
- 2 Tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 large shallot finely sliced
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 2 lemongrass stalks trimmed and finely sliced (about 3 Tablespoons chopped)
- ¼ red bell pepper, finely diced (I used 3 mini peppers)
- 1 fresh jalapeno or Thai bird chili minced (optional)
- juice of 2 limes
- handful of mint leaves coarsely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
- handful of cilantro leaves coarsely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Drain the sardines of oil and juice.
- After your shallots are thinly sliced, rinse them in a colander under running water. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the ginger, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, bell peppers, and chilis (if using). Mix well.
- Add the drained sardines.
- Squeeze the limes onto the mixture and add the chopped herbs, salt, and pepper. Gently mix the ingredients together, trying to not mash the sardines (using a fork to help and breaking it up as little as possible).
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge and serve. Adjust seasoning as needed before serving.
*Canned fish brands have varying amounts of salt. If you are watching your salt intake or your fish is already kind of salty, make the salad without the salt. Taste the salad and then add the salt to taste at the end.
Move over pumpkin spice! My Fall soup cravings are far less basic. I didn’t want a soup that tastes like a muffin so instead I came up with this Curry Sweet Potato Soup. It’s rich and creamy, with a blast of funky spice from red curry paste and lemongrass. It’s still a lovely autumn shade of orange. If you live someplace where seasons are a real thing, you can wrap yourself in your favorite sweater and sip it from a mug. All your Fall dreams come true!
Vegetarian and Full of Flavor
This soup is so creamy and full of flavor, even people who balk at a meatless meal will be happy to slurp this up-looking at you dear husband. The sweet potatoes give the soup heft and body. But the aromatics take it to the next level, lending an edge that keeps the soup from being boring. You will be surprised by the complexity as you reach for a refill. Furthermore, I’ve made this soup with both vegetable stock and water and did not notice much of a difference between the resulting soups. So go ahead and reach for the water if that’s all you have. I don’t think you’ll feel like it’s missing anything.
There’s nothing like Thai red curry paste for a jolt of flavor. While you could make your own paste, the ingredient list is pretty long, and there are good commercial options available. Personally, I prefer the Maesri brand that I talk about in my Funky Asian Pantry. I’ve tried them all over the years in our restaurants, and this brand by far has the brightest flavor and complexity. To me, it has the most authentic taste and perfect amount of heat.
Additionally, this soup gets a boost from the subtle lemongrass flavor. Usually when I call for lemongrass in a recipe it’s minced, and I reach for my frozen tub of it- truly one of the most convenient food products on earth. But you can also use a fresh stalk by first trimming the bulb, then smashing it with the side of your knife. When the soup is done, don’t forget to remove it before blending.
Finally, I toss in a couple of bay leaves to flavor my Curry Sweet Potato Soup. I love bay leaves and I don’t think home cooks use them nearly often enough. They impart a wonderful woodsy and floral note. However, bay leaves must be removed before eating because even when cooked, they are too tough to chew and could present a choking hazard.
Making the Flavored Base
The first thing we are going to do is sauté the onions. For this soup we only want to “sweat” them. That means we don’t want them browned, just cooked until they are soft and translucent, and release some of their liquid, or sweat. Once the onions are softened and translucent, we add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and bay leaf.
While the aromatics and spices are blooming in the heat, we are also going to be sauteing the sweet potato. This way, it can soak up all that delicious flavor before we add the liquid. Once everything really begins to smell amazing, we add the stock or water and let it simmer.
Take the soup off the heat when the potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Remember, you want to remove the lemongrass (if you are using whole pieces) and bay leaves. Blend the soup with an immersion blender. Pro-tip: Don’t turn the immersion blender on until it is in the soup! Pretty sure you don’t want to be surprised with orange specks of Curry Sweet Potato Soup on your ceiling.
You can also blend this in a regular blender. But here too you want to be very careful. Only fill the blender half way. When you overfill it, the steam from the soup can pop the lid right off! With a regular blender, you will have to blend it in multiple batches. Your ceiling will thank you.
After blending, you add the coconut milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. And you’re done! Rich, creamy, perfectly spiced sweet potato soup.
One delicious sip, and you will never want a basic, pumpkin spice muffin for soup ever again. Try my easy Curry Sweet Potato Soup tonight! If you make our Curry Sweet Potato Soup, we want to know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!
A rich, creamy and perfectly spiced soup!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter*
1 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)
4 large cloves garlic minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 ½ pounds sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice about 1 inch
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 stalk of lemongrass or 2 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1–13.5 ounce coconut milk
1. Heat a large heavy soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.
2. If using whole lemongrass, cut the top 2/3 of the lemongrass stalk off and discard. Trim the base of the bulb and peel off any tough dry layer. Then mince the lemongrass. Set aside.
Add the butter and onions. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 6-8 mins until the onions are translucent and soft.
3. Then add the ginger, garlic, bay leaves, curry paste, lemongrass, and sweet potato. Stir fry for 1-2 mins. to bloom the spices.
4. Next add the salt, sugar and vegetable stock and bring the soup to a simmer over high heat. Lower heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and cook for 20-25 mins. until the potatoes are very soft. Stir occasionally to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
5. Remove the bay leaves.
6. Add the coconut milk to the soup and blend the soup, either with an immersion blender or carefully with a standard blender. (If you are using a standard blender, add the coconut milk straight to the blender cup and blend the soup in batches to get a smooth consistency. Keep the feed tube open, covered with a clean kitchen towel, and start with a low speed at first to be safe).
7. Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium heat. Thin the soup with a little more stock or water as needed (the soup soup be thick and creamy but not like a thick puree). Adjust seasoning if needed (if you’ve used water, you’ll need a little more salt).
Serve with lime wedges on the side.
* This vegetarian soup can easily be made vegan by switching out the butter for either oil or a vegan butter.
Keywords: curry vegetarian soup