For maximum flavor in minimal time, chef Jeff Smith opts for spice rubs over marinades. After experimenting with spice blends for heartier fish, he discovered that a big pinch of ground coffee lends earthiness to the rub.
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1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two 8-ounce skinless, center-cut salmon fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, seeded and quartered
1 garlic clove
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado—halved, peeled and pitted
4 cups finely shredded red and green cabbages (12 ounces)
8 corn tortillas
Hot sauce and lime wedges, for serving
How to Make It
In a small bowl, stir the cumin with the chili powder, brown sugar and coffee. Season generously with salt and pepper. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and dredge them in the spice mixture.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, puree the tomatillos with the cilantro, jalapeño and garlic until smooth. Add the sour cream and process until smooth, then add the avocado and pulse until creamy. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and toss to coat.
Preheat the oven to 300°. Preheat a grill pan. Lightly brush each tortilla with olive oil. Stack the tortillas and wrap them in foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the grill pan with olive oil and grill the salmon fillets over high heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and flake with a fork.
Fill the tortillas with the salmon. Top with the cabbage slaw and serve right away with the hot sauce and lime wedges.
Smith looks for spicy wines, like Zinfandel or Charbono, to complement the rub for his salmon. Robert Foley makes arguably the best Charbono in California. However, it's hard to find. A Zinfandel can have similar richness.
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