Liven Up Your Salmon With Blackening Spice

Liven Up Your Salmon With Blackening Spice
A juicy mango salsa cools and complements this savory, spicy salmon. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)

Pan-roasted salmon filets are a healthy, easy weeknight dinner. Rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals, wild salmon is considered a superfood. (Note that wild salmon are considered healthier than farmed salmon, which are raised in hatcheries on artificial diets.)

Salmon’s buttery and oily richness is part of its allure, but try balancing it out with a blackening spice blend. Blackened seasoning is a laundry list of dry spices that packs flavor into a rub for fish and meat. The seasoning is influenced by Cajun and Creole cuisine, with a blend of chiles, such as paprika and cayenne, dehydrated and dried onion and garlic, and herbs, such as thyme and oregano. The mix and the heat can vary, so it’s easy to adjust to your taste and the contents of your spice cabinet.

The spices form a charred crust when seared in a hot skillet or on the grill, hence the name blackened. Serve the salmon as is or top with a sweet and citrusy salsa. In this recipe, a juicy mango salsa cools and complements the savory, spicy rub for a perfectly balanced bite.

When you make a spice blend, consider making a large batch to keep on hand. It’s a wonderful flavoring agent to sprinkle over other meats, fish, and vegetables.

A juicy mango salsa cools and complements the savory, spicy rub for a perfectly balanced bite. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)
A juicy mango salsa cools and complements the savory, spicy rub for a perfectly balanced bite. (Lynda Balslev for Tastefood)

Blackened Salmon With Mango Salsa

Active time: 25 minutes Total time: 25 minutes
Serves 4
  • 4 center-cut, skin-on salmon filets, each about 6 ounces, pin-bones removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lime wedges for serving
For the Salsa
  • 1 ripe but not mushy mango, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 1 small poblano pepper, seeded, finely diced
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
For the Blackened Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl. Stir to blend, then taste for seasoning. Set aside to let the flavors develop while you prepare the salmon, stirring occasionally.

Combine the blackened seasoning ingredients in a small bowl.

Lightly brush the salmon with oil. Evenly season the flesh of the salmon with the spices, pressing gently to adhere.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet, preferably cast iron, until it begins to shimmer.

Turn on the exhaust fan. Carefully arrange the salmon filets, skin-side up, in the skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until the fish is blackened and releases easily from the skillet with a spatula, about 4 minutes, rotating the pan to ensure even cooking.

Flip the salmon and continue to cook until the salmon is cooked through and the skin is crispy (or to your desired doneness), about 4 minutes more for medium, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Transfer the salmon to serving plates. Serve with the salsa and lime wedges.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat, and a dog. Balslev studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Copyright 2021 Lynda Balslev. Distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication.
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