Inspired by a Caribbean vacation, this blackened salmon is definitely something I will be enjoying again and again. The beautiful blend of spices used to blacken the salmon is smokey and savoury with just the right amount of heat. And it's served with a refreshing, tangy, sweet, and spicy strawberry pineapple salsa that adds so much excitement to the dish. The smokey heat, jalapeño, and strawberries are such a beautiful combination!
What is "blackening"?
First seen in New Orleans, blackening is a fusion of Cajun-Creole style cooking that involves coating the surface with butter and a blend of spices, and cooking it in a skillet over high heat. The spices will crisp into the signature dark crust, while the inside (in this case, the salmon) will stay moist and tender.
What kind of blackening spices should you use?
This blackening spice blend uses smoked paprika and cumin to give it a smokey depth, and cayenne for the heat. Onion and garlic powders add a savoury element. Brown sugar adds some caramelization. Dried thyme and oregano give aromatics and texture. And some sea salt and pepper add the finishing touch.
There are a limitless number of blackening spice blends out there. The key is to adjust it to make it just right for you! For example, you can adjust the cayenne pepper in this recipe, or eliminate it, based on how spicy you like your food. The teaspoon of cayenne that I used had a bit of heat, but most wouldn't find it overpowering.
Strawberry Pineapple Salsa
For this recipe, you're going to want to make a batch of this delicious strawberry pineapple salsa before you start seasoning and cooking the fish. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until you have the cooked fish plated and ready.
I used a pink pineapple for my salsa, so unless you have one of those on hand, expect to see bright bits of yellow in your salsa. It will be just as tasty!
How to make blackened salmon
Start by mixing together your blackening spices. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and oregano into a small bowl and stir together until they are well blended.
Use a silicone brush to slather melted butter on both sides of your salmon fillets. Sprinkle your blackening spice blend over the skinless side of the fillets and use your hand to gently pat the spice on.
Place the salmon into a hot skillet, seasoned-side facing down and let it cook about two to five minutes, depending the thickness of the fillets and how well done you like your fish. Flip the fillets over, and continue cooking until the fish is done and flakes easily
Serve the salmon on a bed of rice; then top generously with your prepared strawberry pineapple salsa. Garnish with a small, halved strawberry, a couple lime wedges, and a coriander leaf. And sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt. I used Maldon, a beautiful, completely natural, English salt with a pyramid-shape structure.
Don't feel like rice today? Break the blackened salmon into pieces and use it and the salsa to make some gorgeous tacos! There is no bad time for a good taco.
The pan should be quite hot when cooking the fish. This serves to sear the blackening spices into that lovely crust, as well as helps to prevents the fish from sticking to the pan. You won't need to add oil to the pan as there are enough natural fats in the fish along with the added butter to aid with cooking.
It's important to not move or shift the salmon around once its been placed into the hot pan. Keep it still as you can until it's time to flip it over and cook the other side.
So much flavour in every bite! This tender salmon did not last long.
If you really enjoyed this fruit-infused main dish, here's another! Try my grilled mango lime chicken. Its flavour is fantastic and the marinated chicken is so tender and delightful. Perfect for summer grilling.Print
This Caribbean-inspired blackened salmon is seasoned with a smokey spice blend and topped with a refreshing, tangy and sweet strawberry pineapple salsa.
4 salmon fillets (6 ounces / 170 g each)
2 tbsp (28.4 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper *
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp sea salt (I used Maldon)
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried oregano
Add all spice blend ingredients into a small bowl and blend together until well combined.
Use a silicone brush to slather melted butter onto both sides of the salmon fillets.
Sprinkle the spice blend on top of the fillets with the skinless-side facing up. Use your hand to gently pat the spices on.
Place the fillets into a hot skillet (it needs to be hot in order to sear the spices and help keep the salmon from sticking to the pan). Do not move or shift the fish at this point. This is important for achieving the spice crust. Cook the fillets for 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets and how well done you like your salmon.
Flip the fillets over and continue cooking until the fish is done and flakes easily.
* You can adjust or eliminate the cayenne in this recipe depending on your preference for heat.
Keywords: blackened salmon, strawberry pineapple salsa