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Pan Roast Wild Salmon

With Date Salsa


We finally had a snowstorm worthy of Winter. The landscape presents itself in serene beauty, so pure, clean and disturbed only by tracks of wildlife. While waiting for the storm to pass, I spent time reviewing some of my old recipe notes. Sometimes these spark a chuckle about transient trends. They remind me of past dishes now faded from memory like an old hat in the back of a little used closet. Then there comes an “aha moment” when I find an old favorite.

There are times when I discover something odd, why the flavor profile of a recipe doesn’t make sense. In this case, dates in salsa seemed out of left field but I’m glad my curiosity prevailed. I do not recall which chef offered this idea but with some experimentation I found it surprisingly delicious. Not only is it an easy recipe but it offers familiar flavors with a twist.

Date salsa is paired with pan roast salmon. Salmon, whether wild or farm raised, has enough depth of flavor to support this hearty salsa. A fish such as swordfish, tuna or grouper would also be a worthy choice. I think flakey white fish like flounder or cod would be overwhelmed. Of course you can replace seafood as the star and use it with grilled pork or poultry. I have served this dish in restaurants with success and will continue to use it at home now that I remember.

Serves 4

Ingredients for the salmon:

  • 4 six ounce fillets of wild salmon such as Coho or Sockeye

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil

  • Adobo seasoning or a blend of 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, white pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and paprika

Ingredients for the salsa:

  • 1 ½ cups 1/4 inch diced medjool dates

  • 1 ½ cup diced red bell pepper

  • ½ cup diced sweet onion

  • ¼ cup finely diced poblano pepper

  • 1 clove garlic minced

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions

  • ½ cup toasted and chopped pistachios

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

  • a pinch of salt and black pepper

Method for the salsa:

This can be made a day ahead

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and gently stir and fold together until just mixed.

Don’t be too vigorous or else the dates will begin to break down and the salsa will become a pasty mass.

Set aside or refrigerate until needed

Method for the salmon:

Place an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat

Season the salmon on both sides with the adobo spice

Add the neutral oil to the pan and then carefully lay the salmon fillets into the pan, flesh side down and sear for about 2 minutes

Turn the fillets over and place the skillet in a preheated 400F degree oven for about 3-4 minutes for medium

Remove the pan from the oven and then place the salmon on your serving plates or platter

For service:

Spoon the salsa over the salmon and serve with a simple side of cooked grain, or in my case, I served it with purple sweet potato mash, as you can see in the photo

However you use the date salsa, you’ll find it delicious and different. It is on the sweet side; you may choose to add more lime juice and olive oil. It is versatile and can be put together in a snap. I’m eager to find more ways to serve it and I’m sure that you will too.