Well, the short answer to that question is...I make blackened salmon at 11 in the morning.
Yes, my schedule is weird. But it actually works for food blogging, as I generally have lots of natural light to work with at the times when I'm actually able to cook. The only downfall is filling my apartment with smoke first thing in the morning and smelling like a campfire for the rest of the day.
We all have to make sacrifices.
But I digress. I'm super excited to share this recipe. It's one I started making five or six years ago. I don't recall where exactly I found the recipe, but I've tweaked it over the years and sort of made it my own. Also, I think it pairs perfectly with the Super Bowl taking place in New Orleans this week and all of the Cajun food being consumed in NOLA. (Go 49ers!)
For starters...the rice. The original recipe called for regular white rice, but I try to avoid white rice whenever possible. I spied this black rice at the Korean market a couple weeks back when I was on my kimchi mission. I've had forbidden black rice in a restaurant before but never seen it in a store. I am now obsessed with this rice and have been using it to make everything from Mexican-style rice to this deliciously simple mango rice. All you do is make the rice according to the package directions (mine actually didn't have directions, so I did 2:1 broth to rice ratio). And notice I said "broth." I always do broth in place of water, as I think it tastes better. Once the rice has finished cooking, lightly toss in diced mango.
While rice is cooking, prepare the butternut squash. Now, I was totally tempted to just buy those pre-cut butternut squash cubes. Until I realized what a rip-off they are! At Mollie Stones, it was almost six bucks for a pound. Compare that to 99 cents per pound if you buy it whole. Sure, you lose some of that to seeds and skin, but it's a WAY better deal. I found a smallish, three-pound squash, which I peeled and cubed. Toss with olive oil and kosher salt and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until very tender.
In a food processor, combine squash with a tablespoon of butter, a 6-ounce container of fat free Greek yogurt (I think original recipe called for 1/4 cup of cream), a pinch of chile pepper and a chipotle pepper or two. NOTE: the canned chipotles can be *very* hot...so start with one and add another if you want more heat. Puree until smooth.
For the blackened salmon, I like to cook mine with the skin on. If you *really* hate salmon skin (who are you people?), you can remove it more easily after it cooks. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking hot. Brush the flesh side of your salmon fillet with butter or oil (use one with a high smoking point). Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and gently press into the fish. Start with the spice/flesh side down and cook 1-2 minutes. This is where the "blackened" part comes in. While it's cooking, brush the skin side with butter or oil. Gently flip...(the fish should not stick to the pan if cooked correctly). Cook for another 1-2 minutes and then transfer pan to a pre-heated oven. Cook an additional few minutes just until flesh flakes with a fork. (This will depend on the thickness of your fish...likely only a couple more minutes).
P.S. Thanks for the "coaching" from my twitter/instagram friend, Richie Nakano. Hoping to make his miso black cod recipe next week!
To serve, spread a layer of the chipotle squash puree on a plate, top with mango rice, and then a salmon fillet. Sprinkle with additional chopped mango. Mmmmmmm. Seriously. this is one of my faves. A little spicy, a little sweet, and a lot of yummy yummy. Looking forward to making my leftovers tonight!
Blackened Salmon with Mango Black Rice & Chipotle Butternut Squash
Keywords: fry roast entree gluten-free mango black rice salmon butternut squash Cajun
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 2 Large Ripe Mango, diced
- 2 Cups of cooked black rice
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 (3 pound) butternut squash
- 1 Small Can of Chipotles (4 oz. or smaller)
- olive oil (for brushing)
- Kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon Butter, unsalted
- 1/4 Teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 (6 ounce) container non-fat Greek Yogurt
- 4 (6 ounce) fillets of wild-caught Salmon
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted (or oil with high smoking point)
- Cajun seasoning (see below)
- 2 Teaspoons Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Cayenne
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
InstructionsFor Chipotle Squash:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, seed and cut the butternut into cubes. Toss with olive oil and Kosher salt and spread on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Roast squash in oven until easily pierced with a fork. About 20-25 minutes.
- Place cooked squash into a food processor. Add 1 or 2 chipotle pepper (according to how spicy you like it), 1 tablespoon of butter, chili powder, salt, and yogurt. Puree until a smooth consistency.
For the Mango Rice:
- Cook rice according to manufacturers directions (broth in place of water recommended). Add half of the diced mango to the cooked rice. Save the other half for garnishing later.
For Blackened Salmon
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse off each portion of salmon and pat dry. Brush both sides of each fillet with butter or oil. Sprinkle a blackening spices onto each side and lightly press the spices against the fish.
- Heat a cast iron skillet until it is smoking hot. Place the fillets in the skillet spice side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes and turn the fillets over. Cook an additional minute and transfer to oven. Cook until the salmon is firm and cooked through (this will depend on thickness of fillets, but will not take long...maybe a couple minutes).
- Spread a portion of the chipotle squash puree onto each plate. Place a large scoop of the Mango Rice in the center of the puree. Put the salmon fillet on top of the rice and top with some of the reserved mango.
(For the Cajun Seasoning):
- Mix spices together in a spice grinder and store in an air-tight container.
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