It’s amazing how new friendships are born. I’ve been following Maya at Alaska From Scratch for a while now and after a few blog comments and email correspondence she has become a cherished colleague and dear friend. Her delicious food blog captured my attention, but Maya’s writing, her sweet, kind spirit and love of family and friends brings me back almost daily. It’s an honor and pleasure to have Maya of Alaska from Scratch Guest Posting on Karista’s Kitchen today. You are in for a treat!
Hugs from Alaska to all of my new friends here at Karista’s Kitchen. Of course, an extra big squeeze to my special blogging buddy, Karista, for inviting me to guest post here today. She is a real gem, bursting with talent and grace, and I am blessed to know her and to get to count her as both a colleague and a friend.
July in Alaska means seemingly endless amounts of daylight, lush green scenery, sparkling blue waters, and fishing. Gobs of fishing. There is nothing more seasonal in Alaska in July than a wild-caught salmon directly from our local shores. We have a dear friend living with us for the summer while he fishes commercially in Cook Inlet. One evening, after 13 hours out on the water, our friend came home with a marvelous king salmon. Although it was late, it was still light out, and he and my husband (known affectionately on my blog as Pastor Alaska) made quick work of filleting while I pulled up a recipe. It wasn’t long before the fish was sizzling in a hot pan, filling the house with the aroma of spices and saltwater mingling together.
Ocean to table. There is truly nothing better.
That night, we made this flavorful Sugar-Crusted Salmon recipe. Together, we oohed and ahhed over the smokiness of the paprika and the cumin, the kick of the chili powder and dry mustard, the nice sweetness from the sugar and a surprising pinch of cinnamon. And can we just talk about that beautiful charred crust for a moment… the stunning caramelization you get when a hot pan swirled with olive oil meets a perfectly fresh fillet of salmon, patted dry (this is key), and rubbed generously. “I have to blog about this,” I said aloud between bites, squeezing a wedge of lime over my fillet before diving back in, “We have to make this again.” Two nights later, we indeed made it again, and this time I made a bright, summery avocado peach salsa to go with it.
Sugar-Crusted Salmon with Avocado Peach Salsa
For the Salsa: 2 sweet, but firm peaches (I used yellow saturn peaches), pitted and finely chopped 2 ripe avocados, finely chopped 1 small red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped 1/2 cup red onion, diced 1-2 jalapeños (to taste), seeds removed and minced 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 1 lime, juiced salt and pepper, to taste
For the Salmon: 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard pinch of cinnamon 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 4-6 wild-caught salmon fillets (about 4-6 ounces each), pin bones and skin removed 2 tablespoons neutral olive oil
Directions In a bowl, gently stir together the peaches, avocados, bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a smaller bowl, stir together the sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, mustard, cinnamon, pepper, and salt.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon fillets dry and liberally season the top of each fillet with the rub, patting it so it will adhere. Place the fillets seasoned side down into the hot pan. Cook about two minutes, until rub is fragrant and caramelized, but not burnt. Flip each fillet and continue to cook on the other side 2-6 minutes more, being careful not to overcook (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets and your preferred doneness. I like my wild salmon fillets medium in the center, so mine were ready after 4 minutes). Plate the salmon and top with Avocado Peach Salsa.
Sugar-Crusted Salmon recipe adapted from Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute via Chena Girl Cooks.