My no-fly list is pretty short when it comes to food. My disdain for green peppers is well-documented and clearly understood. I have a texture thing when it comes to cucumber but it’s completely arbitrary and has no rhyme or reason. I’ve just now gotten around to liking celery – no real reason for that one, either. My only other food I’m not so stoked about – salmon. Cooked salmon, I should say. Put it in front of me at a sushi place or smoked on a bagel and it’s on. My friend Helene does a good job with cooking salmon and makes it often when I visit and I’ve enjoyed it every time…but when I try and make it, not so much.
Usually when I want to coax myself into eating something, adding a little bit of heat to something will get me on board. As I have a very important dress to get into in about a month (!!!), I have been trying to eat mostly healthy proteins and vegetables. Salmon is so good for you and I’ve wanted to like it for so long. To experiment, I made this dish as a solo lunch (my future hubs is even more anti-salmon than I am) to see if I could make myself come around. I did. The keys here are the heat from the habanero sauce and getting a nice sear on the fish – texture is everything here. Pairing it with a super crunchy salad also helped balance out what I always think of as a “soft” fish – you can editorialize the salad however you want with items you have on hand. Corn and avocado just naturally pair well with the sweet heat.
Honey-Habanero Salmon with Corn & Avocado Salad– serves 2
The key to this salmon is good sear, good seasoning and a little heat. The crunch of the salad really helps add texture to compliment the salmon – add pineapple, papaya, mango, or radishes to the salad, too, if you have them. Using the Tabasco Habanero Sauce in place of working with actual peppers gives a good amount of spice without tormenting yourself with cleaning and cooking the habaneros. Adjust the spice however you’d like here – the amount in the recipe is a good starting point. If you want a little more burn, gradually add more to the sauce.
For the salmon:
For the salad:
– In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, Tabasco, lime juice and brown sugar. Set aside.
– On a stove burner over medium-high heat, place the corn cob over the flame and rotate periodically (use tongs please!) until the corn begins to char a bit. Remove from the flame. In a large mixing bowl, cut the corn off the cob and combine with the avocado, green onions, cilantro and salt & pepper (and olive oil, if using). Set it in the fridge or cover at room temp while you cook the salmon.
– In a non-stick skillet, drizzle a bit of olive oil or a spritz of cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place skin side down in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes then jiggle the pan to make sure the skin isn’t stuck to the bottom. With a fish spatula or off-set spatula, flip over to the flesh side. Drizzle 2/3 of the sauce over the fish and cook for another 3-4 minutes. You want a nice sear & caramelization on the fish and the inside medium-rare to medium.
– To assemble: Place one piece of the salmon on a plate. Pile on a big spoonful of the salad. Drizzle the salmon with a bit of the remaining sauce. Serve immediately.