Pepita-Tortilla Crusted Salmon

Upon a recent venture to Williams-Sonoma, we have a new edition to our kitchen's stainless All-Clad fleet: a jumbo 6-quart saute pan. It's a beauty. For its maiden voyage, Dad and I prepared a meal worthy of such a sizable vessel: salmon in the style of one of Kinkead restaurant's signature dishes. The recipe calls for a pepita (pumpkin seed) and tortilla chip crust, two different sauces (cilantro and ancho crema) to drizzle over the fish, plus a fresh tomato relish to put on top. Though slightly time consuming in its multi-part preparation, the dish has a surprisingly simple list of ingredients. Somehow all of the accompaniments to the salmon find harmony while remaining true to each unique flavor. The resulting experience for the tastebuds proves why this salmon is one of Kinkead's best-selling dishes.


-Ancho Crema-
1 ancho chile
1 Tbsp freshly squeeze orange juice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup Salvadoran crema or sour cream

-Cilantro Crema-
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 scallion, chopped
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
4 Tbsp sour cream

1/c cup pepitas, toasted
1 cup tortilla chips
sea salt and cracked black pepper
30 ounces salmon fillets, skinned and cut into 6 portions
1 cup buttermilk

-Tomato Relish-
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
lime juice
olive oil

1. To make the ancho crema:
In a saucepan over high heat place the ancho with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Strain and dry. Remove the seeds and stems. In a blender, combine the softened ancho, orange juice, and salt. Purée to a paste. If too dry, add a little water. In a stainless steel bowl, mix the purée into the Salvadoran cream or sour cream (I used half sour cream, half plain Greek yogurt). The crema should be thick but pourable. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2. To make the cilantro crema:
In a small saucepan bring 2 cups of water and ⅛ teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Blanch the cilantro leaves and scallion for 1 minute and refresh in an ice-water bath. Strain and squeeze dry. Transfer to a blender and purée. Place the purée in a stainless steel bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and remaining salt, and mix well (again, I used half sour cream, half plain Greek yogurt, omitting the mayonnaise). Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

3. To make the salmon:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, place the pepitas and toritlla chips and pulse to a medium coarse mixture. Salt and pepper each salmon fillet and dip into the buttermilk on one side only. Next, dip each fillet into the pepita-tortilla mixture. Let rest in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil. When hot, sauté the fillets, coated side down, for 3 minutes or so, until they start to brown. Carefully turn over and place in the oven for 4-6 minutes, until just barely cooked in the center. You will most likely need to do this in two batches for 6 portions (unless you have your All-Clad 6-qt saute pan, you can do it in one batch!)

4. To make tomato relish:
Combine tomatoes with the olive oil, chopped cilantro, and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

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