Wasn’t I just talking about being in a rut when it came to using the same ingredients over and over? I needed to remind myself of that when I was thinking about how to prepare the salmon filets that were sitting in the refrigerator. As I scanned the produce bins, my eyes immediately landed on the leeks, just begging me to pair them with roasted garlic in a buttery sauce to pour over the salmon. Now, as I type this with my mouth watering for a butter and garlic infused creation, I’m wondering why I didn’t just embrace the rut? Why mess with the perfection of tried and true flavor combinations? Who needs variety anyway?
Well, as you can probably gather from the photos, I pushed all things leek and garlic-related out of my mind and made an effort to look beyond the standards that were staring back at me. I looked into the refrigerator and saw cantaloupe and Greek yogurt sitting near each other and inspiration struck! Slowly, and with no idea that these flavors had a fighting chance of working together, I started to compile a dish in my head.
With fingers crossed, I came up with this plan: A fruit salsa with cantaloupe and watermelon, seared spice-crusted salmon, and a habanero-mint whipped yogurt, all resting atop a crispy corn tortilla chip. (Notice that I’m still sneaking in spicy peppers…another go-to ingredient that I will not give up, rut be damned.)
Seared Salmon Bites with Fruit Salsa and Habanero-Mint Whipped Yogurt
1 cup diced cantaloupe
1/2 cup diced watermelon
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1/2 tablespoon chopped mint
1/2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 habanero, deseeded and chopped
4 mint leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 salmon filets, skinless
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
corn tortilla chips
For the salsa, mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to use.
For the yogurt, combine yogurt and habanero in a mini food processor. Run until habanero is very finely minced. Transfer yogurt to bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Add heavy cream and mint. Turn mixer on high and run until soft peaks form.
When ready to sear the salmon, combine all spices together on a plate. Place each salmon filet in spices and coat both sides evenly. Heat canola oil on high heat in a non-stick pan. Place salmon filets in pan and let sear for 1-2 minutes per side, depending on thickness. (It should still be rare in the thickest part.) Remove from pan and cut the salmon into chunks.
To serve, spoon salsa onto a chip, top with salmon and a dollop of whipped yogurt. (I piped the yogurt on using a zip-top baggie.)
This dish turned out better than I had hoped and the flavors all worked very well together. The yogurt was the runaway success with the tang and spice livening up each bite. Mint added brightness, the fruit salsa added an overall coolness, and the tender salmon melted in your mouth. I’ve said before that I know if Andy likes something if his eyes get wide when he takes a bite…I’m happy to report very wide eyes with this one.
So I guess the moral of the story is that if you push yourself to use different ingredients, you’ll come up with a new and exciting dish. However…all I can think about now is that leek and butter sauce! That does it…I’m going back to my rut, at least for a day or two.