Salmon in a Sea of Coconut From 'Marcus Off Duty'

The flavors of Sweden and Southeast Asia collide in this funky, delightful soup from Marcus Samuelsson. Paul Brissman

Marcus Samuelsson is downright obliged to love salmon, having grown up on the coast of Sweden. And he has a thing for the flavors of Southeast Asia, choosing the foods of that region to be his desert-island pick, so to speak. In this dish from his new cookbook, Marcus Off Duty, he combines both cuisines into one weird and weirdly wonderful bowl. The noodle soup starts off recognizably Asian enough, with coconut milk, miso, ginger, shiitakes, and Chinese egg noodles forming the base. Then things start to get a little funny. Water chestnuts are not totally out of place, with their unmistakeable crunch, but hearts of palm come as something of a surprise. However, their slightly meaty, slightly silky texture works with the shiitake and against the water chestnuts in a pleasant way. And then come the cubes of avocado, which are definitely a wonky addiction, but darn if their creaminess doesn't add something that I'd miss if it was gone. To go on top of the concoction, Samuelsson sears salmon with a crust of wasabi powder and sesame seeds, which adds just enough heat and crunch to keep it distinctive against the components of the soup, and then he sprinkles over mint and dill, because—I don't know—he's Marcus Samuelsson, and he can. And it's good.

Why I picked this recipe: Oh heck, I trust the man.

What worked: Pretty much everything. The treatment of the salmon is one I'll stash in my repertoire to uses time and again, and the soup is unusual, rich, and memorable.

What didn't: I didn't love the avocado added to the soup as early as he adds it. There's seasoning and stirring required after that point, and the avocado sort of melts into the broth, muddying it up a bit. (And again with my pet peeve, but the soup in the photo is sprinkled with what looks like cilantro, while the recipe calls for mint and dill. Just, why? Though cilantro would be good here, too...)

Suggested tweaks: I'd disperse the avocado over each bowlful of soup when you add the salmon. And be forewarned that the noodles soak up much of the broth, so expect that 'sea' to be at low-tide.

Excerpted from Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home © 2014 by Marcus Samuelsson. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 4 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh or dried)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup canned drained water chestnuts, coarsely chopped (see Note)
  • 2 canned hearts of palm, well rinsed and sliced (see Note)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, diced into small pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon wasabi powder (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, shallots, and ginger and cook until the mushrooms are just tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the fish stock, coconut milk, white wine, and miso and bring to a boil. Stir in the noodles, reduce the heat to low, and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

  2. Stir in the lime juice, scallions, water chestnuts, hearts of palm, and avocado. Season with salt (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and add more carefully to keep from overpowering the delicate flavors). Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and keep warm.

  3. Sprinkle the skinned side of the salmon with the wasabi and sesame seeds. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the salmon fillets, skin side down. You’ll see the salmon change color as it cooks from the bottom. When it is still rare, 3 to 4 minutes, flip the fillets so the heat can kiss the top of the fish. Turn off the heat.

  4. Spoon the noodles and soup into four soup bowls, then top each serving with a piece of salmon and sprinkle with the chopped mint and dill.

    Notes: You can find canned water chestnuts and hearts of palm in most grocery stores. Wasabi powder is in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Check the label to make sure it’s wasabi—not horseradish and food coloring.