A small miracle occurred in my kitchen last week: I cooked salmon. Salmon that was totally raw – not smoked, or preserved in any way. No one was holding a gun to my head, and I had purchased the fillet of my own free will. Even better, I actually thought the final product was GOOD, and not just in an “I will tolerate this food for the sake of my health” kind of way… but in an “I would willingly eat that again, even without the presence of a threat of bodily harm if I don’t” sort of way. This can mean only one thing: I am growing as a person. Next thing you know, I’ll be ordering raw oysters at restaurants! (No. No, I will not. I am growing as a person, not growing CRAZY.)
In all seriousness, I’m not gonna pretend that I just lightly seasoned the salmon with some salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and then delighted in the wonderful taste of the sea as I ate my dinner. On the contrary, I crusted that fillet up with all kinds of seasonings, topped it with a delicious, creamy sauce, and then rejoiced in the fact that I could only detect a hint of salmon flavor. Enough to know it was salmon, but not enough for it to taste too fishy. Success!
Smoky Brown Sugar-Crusted Salmon with Avocado Cream
adapted from here
For the salmon:
2 salmon fillets, 5-6oz each
2 T brown sugar
2 t chili powder
1 t smoked paprika
1 t smoked salt (kosher salt is fine, if you don’t have smoked)
1/4 tsp cayenne papper
one lime, cut into 4 wedges
For the sauce:
1/2 a medium avocado
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I use 2%)
juice of half a lime
1 clove of garlic
small handful of fresh parsley
large pinch of kosher salt
1.) Mix the brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, smoked salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Meanwhile, heat a skillet (non-stick is helpful) over medium heat.
2.) Gently rub the spice mixture into all sides of the salmon fillets. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and add the fillets, skin side up, to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on the first side, depending on the thickness of the fish, until each fillet has a nice, dark sear, and then flip.
3.) Cook the fillets for about 2 minutes on the second side. Meanwhile, place your limes in the pan, cut side down, and allow them to caramelize. Flip once the first side is a nice golden brown.
4.) While the salmon fillets cook, place all the ingredients for the sauce into a food processor or blender, and pulse until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
5.) Serve each fillet with the sauce spooned over the top, and a caramelized lime wedge. Squeeze the lime over the fish, and enjoy!
Like I said, this salmon recipe is not for you if you like the pure, unadulterated flavor of salmon. However, for those of use that want the health benefits of eating salmon without the fishy taste, this is PERFECT. The sweet, spicy, and smoky seasoning gives the fish a ton of flavor without completely covering it up, and the cool, creamy avocado sauce is fantastic. My husband literally ate the leftover sauce with a spoon, and proceeded to make proclamations about how delicious it was all evening.
This recipe also fits nicely into the category of “impressive enough for dinner guests, but easy enough that you’re not stuck in the kitchen all night.” There are never enough of those kind of recipes, are there?
You can also file this one under “easy enough to tackle, even when you’re 3 cocktails deep,”