Texarkana, TX 84° View Live Radar Tue H 86° L 68° Wed H 86° L 69° Thu H 89° L 69° Weather Sponsored By:

Spice up your salmon this Valentine's Day

Spice up your salmon this Valentine's Day

February 13th, 2018 by Detroit Free Press in Features
Ancho-spiced Salmon with Avocado Crema. (Susan Selasky/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Salmon and avocado are two of my favorite foods. For this Valentine's Day, why not pair them together for your sweetie?

I chose salmon for a couple of reasons. First, it's a good source of lean protein and is lauded for its omega-3 fatty acids. Secondly, I think salmon has that "special meal" feel because a nice fillet makes for a pretty presentation.

But because salmon is such a popular dinner choice, some of us get into a rut when cooking it.

And Valentine's Day is the perfect time to spice it up. It's as simple as using your favorite chili powder and a few other pantry staples. The salmon in today's recipe has an ancho chili powder-based spice rub and is topped with a sweet glaze. The sweet and spicy tones provide just the right blend.

When it comes to chili powders, all are not exactly the same. Products simply labeled chili powder may also contain other ingredients including salt, cumin, garlic powder and even oregano. In today's recipe, I used ancho chili powder, one of my favorites. I like it because it's fairly mild and has hints of smokiness. In its fresh form, ancho is called a poblano chili pepper. It's a deep green color, almost heart-shaped and mild in flavor. Once dried, the pepper takes on a little more heat.

You can use any favorite chili powder in this recipe, just keep in mind you don't want to overpower the mild-flavored salmon.

My best advice for salmon? Don't overcook it. I know, I know. It's easily done. But you can take a few steps to prevent it from happening.

Brining is a good way to be certain the salmon stays moist during cooking, even if you overcook it by a few minutes. To brine salmon (even the two pieces in today's recipe) mix together 6 cups of water with 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar, until both dissolve. Place the salmon pieces in a glass baking dish, pour the salt/sugar mixture over, making sure the salmon is submerged in the water. Refrigerate it for about 2 hours. When ready to cook, remove the salmon from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse and pat the salmon dry. You can brine the salmon as little as one hour and up to 3 hours. Brine fish any longer than 3 hours and you run the risk of it becoming mushy.

My preferred method of cooking salmon is to broil it because it is quicker than baking and easier for me to keep an eye on it to judge for doneness.

The last component to this dish that makes it special is the avocado crema. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I gush over avocados. Rarely is my kitchen without avocado. I love them for their creamy, almost buttery flavor and that they, like salmon, are considered a good fat. The avocado crema is made by mixing avocado with sour cream, a bit of lime juice to help smooth it out and a pinch or two of salt. This creamy mixture also helps to balance this dish because it provides a coolness to the chili spice.

___

ANCHO CHILI-SPICED SALMON WITH AVOCADO CREMA

Serves: 2 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 40 minutes

SALMON

2 center cut salmon pieces, about 5 ounces each, rinsed patty dry

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

RUB

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder (or favorite chili powder)

{ teaspoon smoked paprika

{ teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of cayenne

1/4 teaspoon cumin, optional

GLAZE

1 tablespoon Dijon

2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave

CREMA

{ ripe avocado, pitted, peeled

1/4 cup Mexican crema or sour cream

2-3 teaspoons lime juice

Pinch of salt

Brine the salmon, if desired. Place the pieces in a glass baking dish. In a large glass measuring cup, mix together 6 cups water with 1/4 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar until both dissolve. Pour over the salmon pieces, making sure there's enough liquid to completely cover them. If there isn't, add more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. When ready to cook, remove salmon from brine, discard brine and rinse and pat salmon dry.

Season the salmon pieces lightly with salt and black pepper.

In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and sprinkle all over the salmon. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl combine the glaze ingredients.

In a blender, food processor or drink blender combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice and pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is smooth, but slightly on the thick side, like Dijon mustard. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler. Place the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spoon some of the glaze on top—some will drip off. Place under the broiler, about 6 inches from the heat element, and broil about 10 minutes. Halfway through, spoon on more glaze if desired.

Remove from broiler, let stand a few minutes before plating. Slide a spatula between the skin and the salmon flesh and transfer salmon to a plate. Serve drizzled with crema.

From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Nutrition information not available.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com