March has finally arrived and I know that comes as a great relief to many.
Spring buds, longer sunlit days and warmer temperatures on the way to caress those weary winter bones (and not a moment too soon if I’m reading the collective temperament right).
The transition has been quite noticeable here in NorCal. Spring vegetables strutting the best version of their naked selves in markets and on shelves — rainbow carrots, multicolored miniature bell peppers, radiant radish and beets of all description.
Our backyard is also in flux. The prolific mandarin tree that kept us well fed (and hydrated) through the winter finally delivered its last fruit and now sits bare and quiet beside the flowering apricot tree.
I know how it works but it still manages to make me sad.
To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…
Our lemon trees continue to produce but we’re having the toughest time motivating our little lime tree. It hasn’t made much progress since we planted it last fall and clearly missed the memo on margarita hour.
We’re hoping the spring session will give it the boost it needs. And today, a celebration of early spring with these vibrant chili-rubbed salmon bowls.
If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy salmon, or perhaps entice another family member to feel the love, this recipe is a must-try!
Soft succulent salmon morsels enrobed in a crispy delicious chili-oregano rub. Nourishing, packed with flavor and quite possibly one of the easiest and most time efficient recipe you’ll ever come across.
When our boys were young, I would cut salmon up into bite-sized pieces — it seemed more manageable for them and I would mix the pieces in with a grain and some chopped veggies — a big happy mess.
Of course, you don’t have to chunk off the salmon the way I’ve done in these bowls. You can enjoy this recipe in whole fillet form with veggies on the side and skip the starch element altogether if you prefer, or serve it up however you wish.
The heat in the seasoning can also be easily adjusted to suit your taste or the taste of those you’re cooking for. More information under the Notes section of the recipe card.
Enjoy and cheers to spring (whenever it comes!)
- For the Chili-Rubbed Salmon
- 4 medium-sized salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each) with one skinless side
- 2 Tbsp quality chili powder of choice (see Notes)
- 1 tsp oregano powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- pinch sea salt
- Sprigs of fresh oregano for garnish
- For the Vibrant Veggie-Quinoa
- 1 cup of cooked quinoa (I prepare mine in the rice cooker and use 1 cup of vegetable stock + 1 cup water -- the stock adds flavor to the quinoa as it cooks)
- 1 large or 4 miniature sweet bell peppers, diced
- 1 head of broccoli cut into small florets
- 1 bunch of colorful spring (!) carrots, sliced
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions - generally 1:2 ratio quinoa to fluid (I use 1 cup quinoa and 1 cup vegetable stock to add flavor).
- Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl: chili, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt.
- Add a little bit of moisture (a dab of water) to the skinless side of the salmon fillets before sprinkling with seasoning - pat the seasoning down on the surface with your fingers for adherence -- I sometimes rub the sides of the fillets with seasoning too. It's as simple as that!
- In a greased cast iron (or other) skillet set to medium heat, place the fillets, seasoning side down, on the skillet. Being careful not to burn the surface, allow the salmon fillets to cook for about four minutes before carefully turning them over. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, allow the fish to cook for another 4 minutes or so or until it until the fillets are nicely darkened on the outside and still tender and pink on the inside (you can test this at any time after you flip the fillet).
- Meanwhile add veggies to cooked quinoa, if using, mixing gently to combine.
- Using the tip of your spatula, chunk off pieces of the fillet right in the skillet if you like (it will be very easy to do and will fall away from the skin beneath effortlessly). If you prefer, you can also keep the fillets whole.
- Divide veggie-quinoa among four bowls and top with chunks of salmon. Adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano, as desired.
The Chili Factor – there are many different kinds of chile/chili you can consider for this recipe and it really just depends on the type of flavour impact you are looking for. Ground chile peppers such as cayenne and habanero are amongst the hottest varieties so you will want to use these chile powders carefully and sparingly (particularly initially) – I use small pinches (1/8 or ¼ tsp) of these powders on occasion in cooking. Ancho chile is beautifully complex and warm (but not as hot as cayenne/habanero). Paprika and chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeno) are other favorites. The more generic ‘chili powder’ that you find in the supermarket is really a mixture of milder chile peppers with the addition of herbs/spices such as onion/garlic powder and salt and may be more suitable for youngsters and those who don't tolerate or enjoy heat. Chili powder of this kind would be perfectly suitable for this recipe but you could also add a pinch of ancho or chipotle in addition to it just to give it a bit more robustness. It’s really just a matter of personal taste. I encourage you to visit my friend MJ over at MJ's Kitchen aka: The Chile Queen, for some detailed information on chile varieties ~ she's my go-to source.
Mighty Omega-3s – cold water fish such as salmon (mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout and black cod) offer the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA which research reveals helps reduce inflammation and protect us against cardiac disease. Several neuronal and cognitive functions also depend on these fats to keep the lining of the brain cells flexible and communication fluid.