Saturday, July 6, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Lemon Salsa

I'm always looking for new salmon recipes because it's so good for you, it's readily available, reasonably inexpensive, and we really like it.  I ran across two very similar recipes lately for grilled anchovies with lemon salsa.  We're not great anchovies fans but I reasoned that the lemon salsa, which sounded very intriguing, would go with any fish with a relatively high oil content.  (I don't know, maybe anchovies don't have a high oil content when they're fresh.  They certainly do by the time they hit the can.)  Anyway, I immediately thought of salmon, although I think this salsa would also complement swordfish or tuna.

The fresh lemon salsa has very bright and tart flavors that balance the rich meaty fish beautifully, especially when the salmon is grilled so it has that extra smoky edge.  In addition to lemon, the salsa contains red onion, red chile, mint and cilantro - totally different from your more typical tomato salsa or even the relatively common mango salsa.

This recipe is very simple, quick and easy - perfect for a spring or summer evening of grilling.  Use mint and cilantro from your garden or from the farmers market if you can - it's fresher and cheaper than the herbs in the grocery store.  By the way, have you ever thought of growing mint?  My only caution is not to plant it directly in your garden - plant it in a pot instead, then you can bury the pot in the garden if you want.  The reason is that mint is incredibly aggressive and will be all over everywhere in short order at which point it's very hard to get rid of.  (Another one of those life lessons learned along the way.)  In a salsa filled with big flavors, mint will be the biggest so use it sparingly.

The only part of the recipe you may not be familiar with is how to supreme the lemons. "To supreme" lemons or any other citrus simply means removing the rind and cutting the segments away from the membranes as opposed to pulling apart the segments with membranes intact.  Here's a step by step visual.  Start with a lemon (or other citrus).

Cut the rind (including all the pith) off with a sharp knife.  Try not to cut away too much of the inside of the lemon at the same time.

Then hold the lemon in your hand over a bowl, and carefully cut between the membranes, making v-shaped cuts to release the segments into the bowl.  (I say "carefully" because remember that it's your hand that's involved, after all.)

When you're done cutting the segments, squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl and discard the pulp.  Pick the seeds out of the segments. Many recipes use the whole segments but I preferred to cut them in half for this salsa.

You can prep the salsa ingredients in advance (except I wouldn't chop the herbs until right before serving) but don't combine the salsa until shortly before serving or the lemon dulls the red onion and red pepper too much.

Prep the salmon by brushing with a little olive oil and sprinkling with your favorite seafood seasoning blend - I like Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic.

Grill the salmon indoors or outdoors, toss the salsa together, and serve with your favorite accompaniments for a perfectly delicious, light and healthy dinner.  Enjoy!

printable recipe

Grilled Salmon with Lemon Salsa
Serves 4

3 lemons
2/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1 fresh red chile, seeded and finely diced
1/8 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for brushing the salmon)
Salt and pepper
4 (5-6 ounce) salmon fillets
Seafood seasoning blend (your favorite)

Supreme the lemons: with a sharp knife, cut the rind off including the white pith.  Holding the lemon in your hand over a bowl, carefully cut each segment free by making a v-shaped cut between the membranes and letting the segments and juice fall into the bowl. Pick out the seeds and cut the segments into smaller pieces if desired. Add the red onion, chile, mint and cilantro.  Add a pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil and mix well.  Note: do not combine the salsa in too far advance or the lemon will dull the onion and chile flavors too much.  Each ingredient may be prepped in advance, but combine everything shortly before serving.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Brush the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning blend.  Grill for approximately 10 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking, until the salmon flakes easily.  Serve topped with the lemon salsa.

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