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Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon

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Serves 4.
By Dennis W. Viau; my own creation.

The blackening spice mix for this recipe comes from a local cookbook here in Southern California, written and published by a chef who runs a little restaurant not far from where I live. The chorizo ragu is modified from another of my recipes, which came from a restaurant trade journal. And I changed the way the fish is spiced.

Ingredients:

To Make a Small Jar of Blackening Spice Mix:
2½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1½ teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoons dried basil flakes
1½ teaspoons dried mustard
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
½ teaspoon Italian herbs
For the Ragu:
6 ounces (170g) chorizo, either beef or pork
½ large yellow or red onion; diced
1 stalk celery; diced
1 carrot; diced
¼ cup (60ml) bourbon
¼ cup (60ml) dry sherry
1 garlic clove; minced
1 cup (240ml) chicken stock
¼ cup (60ml) marinara tomato sauce
For the Salmon:
1 pound (454g) fresh wild salmon fillet
1 tablespoon high-temperature oil (peanut oil or safflower oil)

Directions:

Combine all the blackening season ingredients in a jar and mix well. Optionally, I use a coffee grinder set aside for spices to grind the herb flakes into a powder.

To make the ragu: Remove chorizo from its plastic casing. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high flame and sauté chorizo 2 minutes. Add diced onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and pepper. Cook about 3 minutes. Add bourbon and sherry. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken stock and reduce to about 1/3 its volume. Add the marinara and cook about 3 minutes. Adjust for salt, cover, and set aside.

Season the salmon fillet (optional: cut into serving-sized pieces) with salt. Heat a skillet (I use a stove top griddle) with a tablespoon of oil until the oil just begins to smoke. Reduce the heat immediately. If the salmon has skin on it, cook the fillet skin side up in the hot oil for 6 minutes. Turn and season the fillet with the spice mix.* Cook until just cooked through, 3 or 4 minutes. The time will depend on the thickness of the fillet. When cooked, remove from the heat and let rest a minute or two.

Plate with the ragu and with lemon wedges on the side. I prepared rice with peas for this dish.

*High heat is not the best friend of herbs and spices. Many of them are destroyed and lose their flavor when overheated. Even the 350°F (177°C) temperature of an oven can destroy the flavor of many seasonings. Imagine the damage a griddle heated to over 500°F (260°C) can do! Although most recipes call for seasoning the fish before it is placed on the griddle, I choose to season the fish after it is seared. By doing this when the fish is turned, the heat and oil on the upper surface of the food will help the herbs to release their flavor while the fish continues to cook. Protected from the hot surface of the griddle, the seasoning will keep its flavor.