“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”

~ Thomas Keller

One of my favorite seafoods is salmon. I could literally eat it everyday! It is not only delicious, but healthy. There are so many different ways to dress it up: glazed, salmon, baked salmon, salmon patties, sushi. The list could and does go on. Let’s not even get started on the myriad spices that can totally transform this fish.

For this post, though, I am only looking at one method: blackened salmon. No that does not mean that you burn it, but instead you’re using intense heat for a quick period of time to make the outer layers of the fish crisp. The blackened part comes from the cooked spices. There will be a clear distinction between burnt and blackened that you can detect by eye and taste.

The recipe that I’m sharing can be considered a general guideline. When I am cooking at home, sometimes I don’t use all the ingredients or experiment with what I have on hand. The key ingredients that cannot be left out though are garlic and paprika.

With the spices used in this recipe for blackened salmon, you can really plate your fish with any side. I find that pairing textures and balancing the heaviness of the fish (salmon is a heavier fish, but light compared to other meats) with lighter sides such as salads or roasted veggies goes well. Of course, if you love your starch like me, I would also recommend sides like roasted garlic red potatoes, sweet potato gratin, a Caribbean rice, yellow rice or a butter garlic linguine.

The one item you will surely need for this recipe is an iron skillet. An iron skillet is a kitchen must have as you can use it for pretty much everything, pasta, biscuits, pancakes and so on. You want to make sure it’s nicely seasoned so the fish does not stick to the pan. A well-seasoned iron skillet will take you far. It is one of those kitchen necessities that you can pass down for generation.

If you don’t have an iron skillet a good Teflon frying pan or any non-stick frying pan or skillet will also work, but you do have to be more mindful of the heat. I use both when I’m cooking multiple things at one time.

  • Salmon fillet (full size or in 4 portions)
  • 1 tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (can omit)
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
  • a pinch of Red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1 lemon
  • Some freshly chopped Parsley of Thyme
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  1. Prepare salmon leaving skin on. Rinse and pat dry. Cut in portions if not cooking whole.
  2. Mix spices (paprika, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme and pepper flakes) together in small bowl
  3. Melt butter/ margarine in a small bowl or cup. Brush butter/ margarine over salmon (flesh side).
  4. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper and then sprinkle spice mixture over salmon. Gently pat into flesh.
  5. Heat skillet over medium-heat. (Keep in mind a cast iron skillet will retain heat, so you may want to gradually bring down to low later depending on your stove top.) Lightly oil pan if desired. Check heat.
  6. Carefully place salmon into skillet quickly, flesh-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes uninterrupted, or until flesh-side is blackened and then flip. Cook for about another 2 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure salmon is well cooked.
  7. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon over the salmon. Cut lemon into wedges and prepare to serve with a sprinkle of parsley or thyme.

Bon Appetit!

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