24 October 2012

Blackened Salmon Salad with Roasted Red Peppers & Wasabi Edamame

On an idyllic Indian summer day, the last place you want to spend your time is indoors.  So when I walked out of work this afternoon into the beautiful 75 degree bliss of a gorgeous October evening, I knew just what to do.  Rollerblade.  So seventh grade, but so fun.  Our new favorite post-work activity is to strap up, grab the pups and blade around the neighborhood.  It's the least we can do for our little dog after a day in the crate.  Plus, these gorgeous evenings aren't going to be around much longer....

So when days like this come around, I like to pull a kitchen quickie out of the recipe repertoire.  And one of my absolute, hands down, all-time favorites is this fabulous blackened salmon salad.  Five ingredients, one pre-made spice mix and some lemon juice is all it takes.  This recipe is so fast, you can take an extra lap or two around the neighborhood.

So our shopping list here is simple: salmon fillet, spinach, roasted red peppers and wasabi edamame.  Those last two may seem a bit contradictory, but trust me when I tell you they are fabulous.  It's a sausage and applesauce pairing...not the first thing you think of, but insanely delicious together.  We often swap out the wasabi edamame for wasabi almonds or peas...just whatever you happen to have in your pantry.  And don't wimp out of this recipe now because I used the word "wasabi".  Yes, it's spicy.  But in this salad, it really mellows out.  You get little pops of heat on occasion, but the strong Cajun spices and salmon flavor really tone it down, leaving you with subtle heat rather than a punch to the palate.

PS - This is one of my original recipe creations from back in the day.  Nostalgia, you are so sweet...

Now you may have noticed that I did not list any type of dressing in my ingredient list.  (How keen of you!)  And that's because....there really isn't one.  It is simply not needed in this dish.  The juices from the salmon and roasted red pepper add the necessary moisture, along with tons of flavor.  All you do is sprinkle a little extra Cajun seasoning over the top and finish with a squeeze of lemon (it brings out the flavor of the fish) and voila, perfecto.  The result is an incredibly heathy and surprisingly hearty salad.

Typically, I can't stand anything blackened, bruléed or burnt.  But this recipe is fabulous.  By coating the salmon generously in the seasoning and packing it into the fish, it turns into this wonderful crusty seal for all the juices of the fish.  The trick to this method is an extremely hot pan.  Use cast iron if you have it, but non-stick works too.  Just be sure that you get the pan hot enough to be slightly smoking...that's your little green flag that it's go time.

Added bonus: This packs wonderful for an afternoon picnic.  Just pack your salad in one container, then place your salmon and lemon wedges in a second and assemble just before eating.  That's one classy picnic.

Blackened Salmon Salad with Roasted Red Peppers & Wasabi Edamame (3 servings)

  • 1 lb salmon fillet
  • 2 tbs Emeril's Essence spice mix, divided (or homemade recipe below)
  • 1 tbs melted butter (we used light butter)
  • 3 c spinach
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and cut into strips (or you can just buy roasted)
  • 1/4 c wasabi edamame, peas or almonds
  • 1/2 tsp add'l Emeril's Essence
  • 3 lemon wedges
Place cast iron skillet over high heat.  Lay your salmon fillet on a cutting board and drizzle with the melted butter.  Season generously with 2 tablespoons of the spice mix, distributing evenly.  Press into the fish firmly to create a nice coating of spices.

When the pan begins to smoke, place the fish seasoned side down on the heat.  Sear for 2 minutes, then flip the fish and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the fish is completely cooked through.  (Your cooking time will vary a bit based on the thickness of the fillets and your temperature preference.)  Remove to a cutting board and cover with tin foil.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

To assemble the salad, place the spinach on a large serving plate.  Top with roasted red pepper slices and wasabi edamame, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of spice mix.  Remove any skin on the fish, then lay on top of the prepared salad.  Finish by squeezing a few lemon wedges over the entire plate.  

Homemade Emeril's Essence 
Courtesy of Mr. Lagasse & The Food Network
  • 2 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs cayenne pepper (we usually throw in an extra 1/2....yee-haw!)
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs dried thyme
Combine all spices.  Store in an airtight container and sprinkle on everything over the next few months. Repeat.

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