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I love salmon.  It’s pretty and pink-ish, it can take some bold flavors and it’s so quick to fix.  This is an easy, mid-week dinner.  It’s best if the salmon is seasoned ahead; you get a better, more robust flavor.  Salmon is easy and this version is pan-fried, but you can grill it, if you prefer.  We’re using our coffee rub here…it plays to the savory side of the salmon, but because of the frozen orange juice concentrate and the dulce de leche drizzle, there is balance.   Balance is good.Salmon, or any fish or seafood, is perfect for a fast, easy and tasty dinner.  I like to use a heavy skillet, like cast iron for this, but you may grill it (see the note about grilling near the bottom of the post, please) with equal success.  The important thing to remember when cooking salmon or any seafood…DO NOT OVERCOOK it!  I know, that’s sometimes easier said than done.  But with seafood, I think the reason people overcook it, is that just can’t believe it only takes 5 or 6 minutes.  It’s seriously easy.  You should stop cooking the salmon, leaving a bit of rawness in the center; allowing it to remain in the skillet, but removed from the heat source, allows the salmon to “finish” cooking and helps keep it warm for a few minutes, until you’re ready to serve.  Properly cooked salmon has a lovely, unctuous mouth-feel.  It’s moist, not at all fishy-tasting and positively velvety on your tongue.  Luscious really.

I like to include fruit with seafood, too.  Mango or pineapple is spectacularly good, but 156I served it with sautéed, ripe plantains, and a drizzle of dulce de leche (which looks like a 4-year-old did it!).  And on the side, sautéed Chinese broccoli or gai lan, but spinach or kale sautéed with some garlic and chiles works well, too.

Coffee-Rubbed, Pan-Fried Salmon

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: Fast and Easy
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  • 3/4 lb boneless salmon filet, with the skin on
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1-2 teaspoons coffee rub
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • lemon or lime wedges for garnish (if desired)
  • 2-3 teaspoons dulce de leche (optional)

Rinse the salmon filet with cold water; dry thoroughly with paper towels; set aside.  Place the still-frozen orange juice concentrate on top of the filet.  Leave for 2-3 minutes or until it’s almost thawed.  Using a brush (or your fingers) rub the orange juice into the salmon.  Liberally sprinkle the coffee rub on the non-skin side only.  Wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for 2-24 hours.

When ready to prepare, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil.  When hot, gently place the filet, cut-side down in the skillet.  Leave it; don’t touch it for 2 minutes.  Using a spatula, gently turn the filet.  Leave the filet alone; you want to lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat source (another burner that’s cool is fine), and let stand for 3-4 minutes.  To serve, slide the spatula between the skin and the fish, remove the filet, leaving the skin in the skillet.  If the skin sticks to the skillet (or grill) it makes removal a bit easier.  Place on a serving plate, garnish with citrus wedges and a drizzle of dulce de leche, if desired.

Coffee-Rubbed, Pan-Fried Salmon Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

029I just drop the frozen orange juice concentrate (FOJC) on top of the fish, go make yourself a coffee, or do some chopping, whatever will distract you.  For me a shiny object, the sun on the floor, light glinting of a knife blade, diamonds sparkling in the sun…The Goddess is much too easily distracted.  033Then, when you come back, oh my goodness…it’s melted!  It’s magic!  050Rub it in, sprinkle on the coffee rub, cover with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge.  I let it stay in the fridge for 24 hours, if possible.  146I heat the skillet, place the fish cut-side down and brown it for about 2 minutes.  Then I turn it, and leave it to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.  It will not be done at this point, but remember salmon is eaten raw in sushi, so it is decidedly better to have it slightly uncooked in the center, rather than over-cooked.  The resting period is when the residual heat from the skillet finishes cooking the salmon, all the while keeping it warm, too.  This was perfectly done.  Of course, I didn’t remember to take a picture after I cut it in half.  I’d had a couple of glasses of wine and was deep in conversation with The Action Queen…you understand, right…distracted?  Anyway, you’re just going to have to trust that The Goddess is telling you the truth (The Action Queen can back me up here!).

165To serve the salmon, you slip the spatula in between the salmon and the skin and remove the salmon, leaving the skin behind to dispose of later.  This is exceptionally easy on a grill, as the skin usually sticks to the grill.  HINT:  A note about grilling fish…it has a tendency to stick to the grill no matter how careful you are or how well you oil the grill grate.  The solution is mind-numbingly simple…mayonnaise!   In this case, you brush the cut side of the filet with a thin coat of mayo, sprinkle on the dry rub (you could add the FOJC to the mayo if you wish), cover, chill, etc.–proceed with the recipe.  Mayo works better than oil, which never worked for me.  I discovered this by accident, when I decided to grill The Absolute Best Fish Ever, instead of broiling…July is just too hot to heat up the broiler!  And the fish, magically didn’t stick.  So I tried it again, painting on just a skim of mayo and it browned, but no sticking.  I don’t paint the side with the skin intact, as I want that to stick.  I think the reason is works is the oil is suspended in liquid and it’s thick enough to stick, rather than run off, like oil.  But, that’s just a guess.  Whatever the reason, it works.

201About the dulce de leche…you did read that correctly in the recipe.  The sweetness of the dulce de leche, balances the slight bitterness of the coffee.  You can purchase dulce de leche, which is really concentrated or cooked down, condensed milk, in any supermarket that has a decent Latino section.  Sometimes you’ll find it near the ice cream topping area.  Dulce de leche is fantastic with some roasted garlic stirred into it and served with a sharp, dry cheese…thank you Garces Trading Company in Philadelphia; I flat-out stole the idea from them.  I think that same mixture would be equally good on a grilled cheese and this salmon, too!  So many ideas, so little time…