Coffee is essential to the life-blood of The Goddess. If she doesn’t have a cup in her hand, she’s thinking about getting one. Coffee adds a wonderful richness to foods. And well, it just tastes so damn good. Actually, it’s great stuff! Here in Florida, the many, many bakeries and little kiosks that sell Cuban coffee have a constant flow of imbibers. And with good reason. If you find yourself here, order a “café con leche”. This is a stellar concoction of espresso coffee, frothed and heated cream, milk, evaporated milk or a combination of those, with some sugar added. It’s rich and creamy. It’s heaven. It’s really almost a dessert. It’s the nectar of The Goddess. MMMMMM!
Coffee, as you’ve gathered by now, is part of our everyday life. We drink copious amounts of it and I cook with it. Coffee adds complexity and enhances the savory quality of meats and fish. I add very finely ground coffee to hamburger, along with some other additions when I make what is our standard burger. I rub it into steak, on pork roasts, chicken thighs and as in this case, salmon. It works very nicely with salmon. It adds a great flavor and it’s also very pretty.
I know I’ve posted a recipe for Pan-Fried, Dry-Rubbed Salmon that uses a coffee-based rub, so you can do that, if you prefer, but the sesame seeds do add a nice touch. In order to get the sesame seeds to stick, we use beaten egg white as “glue”. The egg whites allow the sesame seeds to crisp up nicely and are a neutral flavor. You want to completely cover the fillet with the seeds. They add a lovely crunch and they protect the fish from overcooking.
Cook the salmon skin-side up first. Once it hits the pan, don’t move it. Leave it there for at least 3 minutes. You can see at the very bottom of the fillet that it’s changing color; it’s becoming more opaque. When it’s ready to flip, gently loosen the fillet from the pan, though usually it comes loose by itself, which is an indicator of when it’s ready to flip. Flip it over. Again, leave it alone. When you’re ready to remove the fillet, just gently slide the spatula between the fillet and the skin, leaving the skin behind. Usually the skin will stick to the pan (or grill) so you can leave it behind. I usually slightly under-cook fish, as it will continue to cook a bit. If fish is over-cooked it tends to resemble cat food. No sauce will make that palatable!
Pan-Seared Coffee-Rubbed Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust
- 2 pounds salmon fillet, skin on
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 2-3 teaspoons frozen orange or pineapple juice concentrate (optional)
- 2-3 teaspoons very, very finely ground espresso
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- Kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Vegetable oil
Check for bones and remove any you may find. Brush (or use your fingers—easier clean up!) the fillet with egg white. Smear on the juice concentrate, if using. Evenly sprinkle the fillet with the coffee, then the garlic granules then the salt. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the fish, covering the filet completely. You want the sesame seed to act as a crust. Let the fish stand for 10 minutes. You can do this earlier, cover and refrigerate, but it needs to stand to allow the egg white to bond the sesame seeds.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to just skim the pan. Place the fish, sesame seed side down in the hot pan. Lower the heat to medium and leave the fish alone. Do not move it around for at least 3 minutes, but I usually leave it for 4-5, depending on how thick the fillet is. Using a spatula, gently loosen the fillet and turn it over in one, smooth movement. Again, don’t move it. Let the fish cook until done, about 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Remove from the pan and serve with a great sauce, or simply as is.
NOTE: Most of the time, the skin will stick to the pan and if you are careful, you can slide a spatula between the fish and the skin, leaving the skin behind. I usually slightly under-cook the salmon, as it will continue to cook slightly while I make the sauce. Another option that I find works well, is to place the plate in the microwave and then just before serving Zap! it for about 1 minute at 50% power. It doesn’t seem to mess with the crust and it doesn’t over-cook the fish. If you are grilling the salmon, omit the sesame seeds, grill the salmon until done and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over when serving.
Pan-Seared Coffee-Rubbed Salmon with Sesame Seed Crust Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
If you can get your hot little hands on some “Everything Blend” which is usually a mixture of black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion and garlic, salt and pepper and sometimes crushed red pepper flakes, or make your own mixture, it’s a great replacement for the sesame seeds. If you use an Everything Blend, omit the garlic granules from the recipe, if you wish. You can purchase the blend, or the ingredients to make your own version, at The Spice Mill, in Manchester, CT. By the way, I want to remind you that you are able to order on-line or call the store and they ship all over the country. Where do you think The Goddess will be getting spices when she’s in Florida? That’s right…they’ll be shipping my boxes here!
I served this with Papaya-Scallion Cream Sauce. Apparently, September is National Papaya Month, so why not? But, this fish is great with Tzatziki Sauce, Pineapple-Cream Sauce or whatever sauce you prefer. And, a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice is sometimes all you may want. What’s not to love?