Recipe: Tequila Lime Salmon with Pico de Gallo


I love how a good fresh salsa of any sort complements the flavor of smoked or grilled salmon. I had grilled salmon with a tomatillo salsa in a restaurant last week, and thought, “I can do that!” I did something a bit different, but it was good! (as my Italian friend says, gnam gnam!)

  • 4 salmon filets (about 2 lbs / up to 1 kg)
  • 1/2 cup (any grade) + one shot (good) tequila
  • two beers
  • 1/3 cup ancho chile paste – or 1 tablespoon chili powder or both
  • 1 tablespoon comino
  • 1 lime wedge plus juice from 1 lime
  • pico de gallo
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt (optional)
This recipe will take at least two hours counting marinade time, so you need to get started quickly. One hour in the marinade is sufficient, but I prefer two or three hours if you have the time. I listed the salt as optional, as some folks are watching their blood pressure.  Salt adds a bit of flavor, but I don’t find it necessary. I will have another blog entry on the ancho chili paste – this is a staple in my house, and I always have some in the fridge, so I use it with just about any southwestern-style recipe.
Drink the shot of tequila, then squeeze the lime wedge into your mouth. Now you’re ready to get started.

For the marinade, combine the rest of the tequila, juice from the lime, comino, cilantro, salt, and chili paste / powder in a shallow dish. Place the fillets in here, skin side up. Make sure the liquid is at least half-way up the sides of the fish, so you get a good soaking going on. I’ll usually  just add a little tequila to get the marinade to the optimal level. You could also have another tequila shot at this time, depending on the effect you’re looking for.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
To cook the fish, I prefer smoking. I wax eloquently about the benefits of smoking fish in my blog entry from December 2007. Smoke these filets about 45 minutes to an hour based on how hot your smoker gets. Or if you’re not that ambitious, you can grill, bake, or broil these bad boys.  For broiling, see my sea bass recipe from last month (the sear, flip, and broil method), or just bake on 400 for about 25 minutes.
While the fish is smoking, drink the two beers, and make the pico de gallo and prep the avocado. If you’re not from Texas, pico de gallo is just a nice fresh topping made with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and serrano or jalapeno peppers and a squeeze of lime juice. Google it if you can’t figure it out from that. Some folks like to mix it up with a little mango or grapefruit, which I’ve done once or twice, myself. I’ll partake of that mixture in a restaurant, but at home I tend to stick to tradition and leave the fusion to the fusionistas in the restaurant trade.
One last thing – I love to drizzle a really high grade olive oil over sliced avocado and add a few twists of fresh ground pepper. I’ve also got pictured a slice of my rustic sourdough rye – I can’t have a meal without bread or rice or pasta of some sort. Bread in this case is perfect for mopping up any garlic, salmon bits and pico de gallo, so you can just put the plate right back in the cupboard without washing.
Y’all enjoy now, you hear?

3 Responses to “Recipe: Tequila Lime Salmon with Pico de Gallo”

  1. Rick Baker says:

    Dave, your recipe sounded really good to me so I’m trying it out today. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Davide says:

    Cool – let me know! And you’ll have to share some of the stuff you’ve been telling me about – i need some more guest blog entries.

  3. Rick Baker says:

    Dave,
    You can see the results, including a picture, over on my blog: Rick’s smoked salmon

    Thanks for a great recipe. It was deeeelicious. The family enjoyed it, too.

    -Rick

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