Prepare to blow the doors off of every other salmon recipe. This brown sugar chili rubbed salmon has a spicy-sweet-smoky flavor that gets blackened and then topped with a silky avocado crema!
Do you ever make a recipe and just know, I mean know—with absolute certainty—that somewhere in the Hamptons, Ina Garten would be, like, super proud of you? That even if she were completely absorbed in splitting vanilla beans for homemade extract, she would totally side-eye your dish and smile?
This is that salmon.
It’s got a caramelized lime, for heaven’s sake! She’d be positively smitten.
What I love about it, and what I think you (and Ina) will, too, is that the brown sugar-chili rub gives the salmon a spicy-sweet quality, and a smokiness when it’s nearly blackened in a hot pan.
The crema—a silky blend of avocado, sour cream, lime juice, parsley, and garlic—creates a cooling balance.
The golden brown color that develops on the pan-fried lime slices makes the whole presentation beautiful—truly the kind of thing you’d feel proud to serve to guests.
Enjoy, my friends!
Brown Sugar Chili Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema
For the crema:
- ½ avocado peeled and pitted
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice the juice of roughly 1 lime
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup fresh parsley stemmed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the salmon:
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 5- ounce salmon filets
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lime thinly sliced into rounds
- In a blender or food processor, combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, garlic, parsley, and salt, and pulse until smooth. The consistency should be similar to cake batter--thick yet spreadable. To thin it if necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water and pulse to incorporate. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. The crema can be made up to 1 day in advance if covered and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and the cayenne pepper. Lay the salmon on a work surface and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over each filet, rubbing it into the flesh on all sides.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Add 2 of the salmon filets (skin-side-up if they have skin on) and cook, undisturbed, until the underside is crisp and just beginning to blacken, about 4 minutes. Flip the filets and cook an additional 4 minutes, until the fish feels firm to the touch. Remove to a plate immediately. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the remaining 2 filets of salmon and repeat the cooking process. Once all of the salmon is cooked and transferred to a plate, add the lime slices to the now-empty pan and cook just until they begin to caramelize, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- To serve, divide the salmon filets among four plates and spoon 2 generous tablespoons of crema over each. Press a caramelized lime slice into the crema to garnish.