Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baked Pepper-Crusted Salmon with Absolutely Magically Delicious Mango (+ Peach) Sauce

I wasn't kidding when I said "absolutely magically delicious." This mango sauce is just really, truly, absolutely, something v. special. Perfectly sweet and herby all at once. Guest-worthy for sure. Great on salmon, possibly even better on tortilla chips, and I'm sure it would be a lovely accompaniment to pretty much anything grilled - fish, chicken, pork (do people grill pork?), hot dogs (well, okay, maybe not hot dogs, but I wouldn't judge you for trying it (yes, you, Charlotte)), tofu, maybe even summer squash or red peppers. If only we had a grill. (Sigh.)

Basically, it's what you hope to get every time you try mango salsa but end up just a little disappointed. It's perfect.

And while we're on the topic of perfect - just to clarify something about this blog - not everything I make is perfect. I mean, heck, I've made chickpea blondies. NOT PERFECT. (I believe the comments in response to those particular alterna-blondies ranged from "these were actually baked?" to "they taste like refried beans mixed with sugar".) So, yeah, I fail a fair amount of the time and I also compromise. Plus, a lot of our meals are really random. I mention all this simply to highlight that this blog is not about my random kitchen exploits. I really only put things here that I think are wonderful and worth sharing. And I try to only put things here that I've owned enough to not feel like a super poacher - though there are exceptions because, well, if I find a good recipe that's perfect as is, I might as well pass it on to people who read my blog because they probably like the same kinds of food that I like, right? It's the polite thing to do, I guess, so long as credit is given where due, and it always is. So anyway, if it seems like I'm always gushing about what I make in the kitchen, it's not because I'm consistently amazing in the kitchen or even that I think I'm consistently amazing in the kitchen. It's because I'm only sharing the gushables.

Like absolutely magically delicious mango sauce. For instance.

Other blogs do a good job testing recipes for you and eloquently, with a great deal of wit and charm, explaining why certain recipes are just not worth the effort. That's just not my bag though. Baby. If it's posted here, it was worth not only the effort of cooking it but also the effort of photographing and typing it.

And that's that.

And this is the recipe I've been withholding whilst ranting.


Make sure you have a bag of good tortilla chips nearby. You know, for taste-testing along the way. Obvi.

mango sauce ingredients

(That's the mise en place photo, taken with my MacBook's Photo Booth app because my camera battery was dead.)

mango sauce


plated salmon

Baked Pepper-Crusted Salmon with Absolutely Magically Delicious Mango (and Peach) Sauce
Adapted from The Mix Magazine, May/June 2010
Yield: 4 servings, and probably some leftover sauce, unless you ate it all on those tortilla chips

1 pound filet of Alaskan wild-caught salmon
freshly ground pepper
coarse sea salt or fleur de sel

1 jalapeƱo or other fresh, relatively spicy red or green chile, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic
1 medium ripe mango (or, if your mango doesn't produce as much flesh as you'd like, one mango + one peach), pitted and peeled (I didn't peel the peach)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

To make the salmon, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon, skin-side down, on a large piece of aluminum foil. Coat the top side of the salmon heavily with pepper, and not quite as heavily with salt. (I actually over-salted this. I didn't think that was possible but it is. There was some scraping off the salty crust while eating. Keep in mind, as I often forget to do, that you can always add more salt later.) Fold aluminum foil to make an enclosed tent around salmon. There should be no holes, but the foil shouldn't be lying flat on top of the salmon. Mine probably had a one-inch space, and it worked beautifully. Bake for about 20 minutes, then check on it to see if it's cooked through. (I just cut into the thickest middle part to see if it was opaque. I had to bake it about thirty minutes total.)

While salmon is baking, make the absolutely magically delicious mango (+ peach) sauce. In a food processor or blender, mince the chile and garlic. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the mango (and peach) and process to chop as finely as possible, for about a minute or so. Add the salt, coconut milk, and lime juice and process until smooth. Add the cilantro and pulse until it is finely chopped and well-combined into the sauce. This stores well in the refrigerator for a few days.

To serve, cut the salmon into four portions and drizzle (heavily) with mango sauce. We ate ours with peachy quinoa salad and they quite flattered one another.

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