Pan-Seared Salmon With
Cumin-Coriander Crema & Chipotle Salsa

Recipe By : Cafe Pasqual's Cookbook by Katharine Kagel


6 salmon fillets -- 8 oz, skin intact
1 cup fresh oregano -- stemmed & finely minced
1 cup fresh basil -- stemmed & finely minced
1 cup fresh parsley -- stemmed & finely minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Cumin-Coriander Crema

1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin seed
1 teaspoon Coriander seed
1 cup yogurt -- plain
2 teaspoons Heavy cream
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro -- stemmed and chopped
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon

Chipotle Salsa

1 egg
1 teaspoon ground red chile -- preferably Chimayo
1 chipotle chile in adobo
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 1/4 cups olive oil

Cafe Pasqual's Cookbook by Katharine Kagel - ISBN 0-8118-0293-0

Cafe Pasqual's is a popular restaurant in Santa Fe, NM and one of my favorites.


Chef Jason Aufrichtig created this light treatment for rich salmon. When purchasing the salmon, ask for fillets not steaks. The chipotle chile in adobo that is called for in the salsa is a canned product, sold at Latino groceries. The chiles keep for weeks in the refrigerator if they are first transferred to a nonreactive container. They are packed in a red chile sauce, to which vinegar has been added, and are very piquant. There is no substitution for the zippy taste they add to sauces and fillings.

Rinse and dry each salmon fillet. It is not necessary to remove the skin from the fillets. Check for pinbones by running your fingertips over the flesh side of the fillet. Use pliers or tweezers to remove any bones. In a small bowl stir together the oregano, basil, and parsley. Pat the herbs onto the flesh side of each fillet, covering well. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

To prepare the crema, combine the cumin and coriander seeds in a small, dry saute pan over medium heat. Roast the seeds, shaking the pan frequently, until the aromas are released, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Place the spices in a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to pulverize the seeds. Alternatively, pulverize in a mortar using a pestle.

In a small bowl, combine the ground seeds with all the remaining crema ingredients. Let sit for 30 minutes so the flavors can develop and blend. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl to remove the cilantro leaves. You will have about 1 cup. (The crema will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.) To prepare the salsa, place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender. Blend thoroughly. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, continuing to process until a mayonnaise like sauce is achieved.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving. You will have about 1 1/4 cups. (The salsa will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.) About 15 minutes before serving, place a sauté pan large enough to hold the salmon, with room to spare, over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is just smoking, put the fillets in the pan, herb sides down. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook on the second side until done, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Cooking times vary according to taste and the thickness of the fillet. At Cafe Pasqual's fish is considered done when the middle is still moist and a bit darker than the surrounding light pink flesh.

To serve, spoon the crema onto individual plates, dividing it equally among them. Place 1 salmon fillet on each plate, herbed sides up, to cover half the crema. Drizzle the salsa decoratively onto the fillet and then onto the visible half of the crema.

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