Just Add Margaritas...A Taco Dinner
April 29, 2019
Whenever possible, I like to tie in my posted recipes to what I am teaching. Last week I had two classes, Quick and Easy Taco Party for Cinco de Mayo and Cast Iron Cooking. This recipe is actually an ideal complement to both. Going with the taco theme: these salmon tacos make for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, but also an instant party. The bold flavors, bright colors and in-your-hand eating make them both casual and festive. The tacos can be cooked outside on the grill, but salmon in the cast iron is always a favorite and a great way to put class lessons to use.
However you prepare them, you’re sure to love the contrast of the smoky, earthy salmon, the creamy avocado sauce, and the crunchy cabbage. I’ve tweaked the original recipe to make it easier to prepare (less prep work with pre-cut cole slaw mix and chopping the jalapeno and cilantro in the blender instead of by hand.) In addition, the original sauce was made with a lot of sour cream. In my version, 1-2 tablespoons is more than enough to produce the same effect. The addition of fresh lime juice in the slaw adds a further dimension. Finally, a taco stand is an easy way to pre-stuff and makes for a fun presentation.
A Few Notes on this Particular Recipe:
It seems strange to use the coffee in this rub but try not to leave it out. It adds an earthiness to the rub which is an ideal contrast to the creamy sauce.
A taco rack (pictured above) makes it easier to pre-stuff your tortillas.
I love the taste of fresh corn tortillas. Vista Hermosa (available in the produce department of Whole Foods) are gluten-free and incredibly delicious.
If cooking the salmon in cast iron, keep the pan a little bit cooler than normal so as not to burn the rub,
Feel free to substitute shrimp for the salmon, cooking them completely in the skillet.
Dry-Rubbed Salmon Tacos with Creamy Avocado Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Three 8-ounce skinless salmon fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling the cabbage slaw
2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 small jalapeño, seeded and quartered
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado—halved, peeled and pitted
3 cups cole slaw mix or finely shredded red and green cabbages and carrot, tossed together
Juice from ½ lime, and the other half cut into wedges for serving
12 corn tortillas
Hot sauce for serving, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar and coffee. Season generously with salt and pepper. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and dredge them in the spice mixture.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, puree the tomatillos with the cilantro, jalapeño and garlic until smooth. Add the yogurt and process until smooth, then add the avocado and pulse until creamy. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl.In a second bowl, combine the coleslaw mix with with a drizzle of olive oil, juice from ½ lime, and salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes. While it is heating, quickly toast each tortilla in the pan until lightly-browned. About 1-2 minutes/side. Remove to a plate and cover with a damp paper towel and a dish towel.
When the pan is hot, add the salmon, presentation-side down. Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking for 8-10 minutes, flipping the salmon halfway through cooking. Transfer the salmon to a plate and flake with a fork.
Fill the tortillas with the salmon. Top with the cabbage mixture, the avocado sauce and serve right away with the extra sauce, hot sauce and lime wedges.
Makes 12 tacos.