Blackened salmon with bold spices is a tasty dinner made in just 15 minutes! Apply a quick dry season blend to each fish fillet, then pan fry until a flavorful dark crust appears on the surface. It’s that easy!
Blackened salmon is a go-to recipe when a seafood craving hits! It’s quick and easy to prepare with minimal effort. It’s one of those dishes that can be paired with any side dish to mix up a weeknight dinner. A blend of savory, spicy and sweet seasonings are generously coated on each fish fillet, adding delicious flavors and textures while it cooks.
Once the salmon is added to a hot pan and cooked for just a few minutes on each side, the taste is magically transformed making each bite better than the last. Fans of spiciness and crispy salmon will devour this dish!
The spice rub
When I’m looking to instantly add flavor to proteins, a dry spice rub does the trick. My blackening spice is a mixture of paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder, and black pepper.
The balance of heat, savory notes, and sweetness from the spices get enhanced when cooked in the oil to help the fat-soluble flavors intensify.
A generous coating of the blackening spice is applied to the flesh side of the salmon fillets. For those who like extra crispy fish, the skin can be left on and fried in the pan. Otherwise, remove the skin and season both sides of the salmon.
Choosing the right oil
The salmon gets pan-fried in a thin layer of olive in a large heavy skillet. Be sure to take into consideration the oil smoke points. The frying oil should be hot enough to quickly sear the surface of the salmon, but not be too hot where it becomes overly smoky and breaks down. It takes a few minutes on each side to create a crispy layer and deep golden colors on the salmon surface.
The result is tender and flaky salmon with a boldly spiced crust, it’s irresistible! I like to serve the blackened salmon with grilled corn salad or broccoli rice. Blackened salmon is a simple and tasty recipe that once mastered will be put on repeat and served weekly at the dinner table.
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Sugar helps with blackening the fish
Adding a small amount of brown sugar to the blackening spice mixture not only adds a hint of sweetness but also accelerates the browning on the surface of the fish. Sugar is composed of two simple sugar molecules, glucose, and fructose. At around 200°F (93°C), the fructose begins to caramelize, and deep brown pigments form on the surface. This is much lower than the 300°F temperature needed for Maillard Browning reaction to occur on its own. The result is an attractive blackened crust in a short period, which is helpful because the salmon cooks very quickly.
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- In a small bowl combine paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder and black pepper.
- Cut salmon fillets into 4 equal pieces, about 6 ounces in weight each.
- Season each side of the fillet with 1 teaspoon of the blackening seasoning mix, 2 teaspoons total.
- Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil.
- Place salmon fillets in the pan and cook until lightly charred and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip and cook until the flesh flakes easily, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate, serve with lime wedge and sprinkle with parsley.
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