Crispy Blackened Salmon with Cilantro Cream Sauce

I had something similar at a taco shop in the little town of Orange just south of Los Angeles. It’s only about an hour or so (depending on traffic) on the 405 to pick up my new photography background from the Erickson Woodworks shop. Due to poor planning I needed to stop for lunch before I could handle sitting in traffic on the drive back. Unless I know that a place is known for a certain specialty I try to pick the most unique thing on the menu. At Taco Adobe, a little restaurant off the main strip of downtown Orange, it happened to be salmon with cilantro walnut pesto. I loved the creamy and mild sauce that was served over the salmon. I was planning on saving half for dinner but I ended up eating the remaining half while sitting in traffic on the drive back.

Steelhead is a great alternative to salmon because it tastes very similar (just a bit more mild) and it’s a more sustainable option.  It’s an easy swap and can be found at many grocery stores or fish markets - plus it has a gorgeous bright color.


For the cilantro cream sauce: 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, diced

1 medium Serrano pepper, seeds removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup halved walnuts

½ cup dry white wine

1 (packed) cup cilantro leaves  

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

Kosher salt, as needed  


For the crispy blackened steelhead:

4 steelhead trout filets (or salmon)

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


For serving: 

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained and heated

3 cups cooked white rice

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro



For the cilantro cream sauce: 

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add the shallots and Serrano pepper sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.

Add walnuts and white wine, cooking until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, heavy cream, lime juice, coriander and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or add to a blender) and pulse until the sauce is combined. Season to taste with salt.


For the crispy blackened steelhead:

Season filets with salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and cayenne. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Place the steelhead filets, skin-side up in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip over and continue to cook until the filets are fully cooked through, about an additional 5 minutes. 


For serving: 

In a small saucepan heat the beans over medium-low heat.

Divide rice and beans among serving bowls and top with tomato and fish. Spoon the sauce over the top and serve.


Serves 4. 

Crispy Blackened Salmon with Cilantro Cream Sauce recipe from cooking with cocktail rings



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