CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Blackened Salmon

Coho salmon may not have the great-tasting reputation of its cousin, the Chinook or King salmon, but it certainly isn’t anything to catch and release.

One of five species of Pacific salmon found in North American waters (along with the aforementioned King, Sockeye, Pink and Chum), the Coho has bright red flesh and a slightly more delicate texture than Chinook but a similar flavor. It is one of the most popular sport fish in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada.

I’ve had the opportunity to sample several of species over the years, almost all wild-caught. A cousin, Paul Hendrickson, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, has been generous in over the years sharing salmon he’s caught, including King, Sockeye and Coho, which he and many others call silver.

More recently, a friend from the gym, John Zavoral of East Grand Forks, Minn., has given me some fish that he’s caught in Alaska, including salmon and halibut. John, whose passion for gardening and Minnesota Twins baseball ranks right up there with mine, also is an avid angler and cook. Besides sharing fish, he often brings stories to the gym about what he’s been doing with food.

The other day, I took two Coho filets from the freezer that John had given me. They were prepared using the following recipe that I hooked on the internet. It was definitely a keeper and a catch I believe John will swallow hook, line and sinker.

Blackened Salmon
For the Salmon:
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter, ghee, olive oil or avocado oil see notes
4 6-ounce skin-on salmon filets
3 tablespoons melted butter, ghee or avocado/oil oil
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
Place the smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl or dish. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and spread the melted butter or oil on the top.
Dip each piece of salmon into the seasoning and push down to create a thick, even coat across the salmon.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron skillet over high heat and brush lightly with the same butter or oil used to coat the salmon. Once the skillet is hot, place the salmon fillets flesh and seasoning side down. Allow them to cook over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes without moving. Try not to lift of the salmon to look.
While the salmon is searing, mix together the topping in a small dish. When the salmon is blackened and crusty, carefully flip the filets over then turn the heat down to medium. Brush the tops of each salmon filet with the prepared mixture and continue to cook over medium for 6 to 8 minutes. If the bottoms start to get too dark you can turn the heat down. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

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