salmon-tacos-with-avocado-sauce

These salmon tacos are bursting with flavor, pairing blackened fish with pineapple pico and a creamy green avocado sauce. Dinnertime win!

Salmon Tacos

If there’s one dinner that always goes over well in this house, it’s tacos. The Tex Mex or American spin on the Mexican classic has infinite riffs. So here’s a new favorite: these Salmon Tacos with creamy green avocado sauce! These tacos are bursting with fresh, zingy flavor, pairing blackened salmon with pineapple pico and a creamy green avocado sauce. It’s an easy healthy dinner that tastes restaurant-style, but you can whip it up in about 30 minutes. Dinnertime win!

Elements in these salmon tacos

Salmon tacos can be made in a myriad of ways. Modern fish tacos came about in the 1950s in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula: both the cities of Ensenada and San Felipe claim to have invented the fish taco. The craze then quickly spread across the border to San Diego, where they became popular in the 1980’s (much in part to Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill).

These salmon tacos are a spin on the idea of a fish taco, but the fish is blackened instead of battered. The star? A quick avocado sauce that is the epitome of bright, creamy flavor. Here are the elements you’ll need:

  • Salmon
  • Spices: Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder
  • Olive oil, butter and lime juice
  • Pineapple (optional)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Avocado sauce: Avocado, Greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro
  • Tortillas
  • Red onion (for garnish)
Salmon Tacos

Tips for pan seared blackened salmon

The fish in this salmon tacos recipe is pan seared in a skillet, which makes the best exterior blackened crust of spices! It does require a few special things to keep in mind. Here are a few tips for blackened salmon:

  • A cast iron or stainless steel skillet makes the best sear. The best way to get the blackened look to the outside of the fish is with cast iron or stainless, which cause the best maillard reaction (caramelization). Don’t worry if all you have is a non-stick skillet: it will still taste great! You just won’t get that lovely char.
  • Bring the salmon to room temperature first. This sounds like a skippable step for impatient cooks (like me!), but don’t be tempted! If you sear it right from the refrigerator, the inside will be cold while the outside of the fish will be cooked. You can save it, though (keep reading).
  • A food thermometer is helpful. It’s easiest to cook the salmon perfectly by checking the internal temperature in this process.
  • If the fish is not up to temp, finish in the oven. If it’s not quite to temp but the outsides are cooked, set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and finish it in the oven until the temperature is reached.
Blackened salmon

For the avocado sauce

This easy avocado sauce is the crown jewel of this salmon tacos recipe! It’s quick and easy to make, and even better: it stays green in the fridge! Here are a few notes on this killer sauce recipe:

  • It’s only 4 ingredients! All you need are avocado, Greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro. (And salt, which we don’t count as an ingredient!) Using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream makes it taste light and fresh, and cuts a few calories too.
  • Use a food processor or small blender. It’s not enough for a large blender — but you could try a double recipe in a standard-sized blender.
  • It stays green without special storage needs! That’s right: you don’t have to worry about it turning brown like guacamole. The acidity in the lime juice naturally makes the avocado stay green.
Salmon Tacos

Toppings for salmon tacos

The avocado sauce for these salmon tacos is required, in our opinion! The zingy flavor is just the right contrast to the spiced blackened fish. Otherwise, you can get creative with your toppings! We’ll share a few ideas of what we did, and some alternative options:

  • Pineapple pico: Make a quick pineapple pico by chopping up fresh pineapple rings and combining them with purchased pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa). The result is a burst of tropical flavor without too much extra effort! We love pineapple salsa, but it takes quite a while to chop.
  • Pico de gallo: If you’re feeling rushed, just use purchased pico de gallo (fresh salsa) from the refrigerated section of your local grocery.
  • Mango salsa or pineapple salsa: Got more time? Make homemade Mango Salsa or Pineapple Salsa, or grab it at the store.
  • Slaw: Salmon tacos are also great with Fish Taco Slaw or Mexican Coleslaw.

Tips on warming tortillas

The last thing about salmon tacos: make sure to warm the tortillas! You just can’t make a good taco with a cold, leathery tortilla. Here’s how to warm tortillas like a pro:

  • Place them over the flame of a gas burner. Place each tortilla directly on a gas burner for a few seconds per side, turning with tongs. This lightly chars the edges and warms the tortillas. Then throw them into a tortilla warmer!
  • Warm them in the oven. Go to How to Warm Tortillas. You can also char them with a kitchen torch, if you’re a stickler for a charred tortilla like we are.

More taco recipes

Got tacos on the brain? Here are a few of our favorite taco recipes:

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Salmon Tacos

Salmon Tacos with Avocado Sauce



  • Author:
    Sonja Overhiser

  • icon clock Total Time:
    30 minutes

  • icon cutlery Yield:
    8 tacos (4 servings)

  • Diet:
    Gluten Free

Description

These salmon tacos are bursting with flavor, pairing blackened fish with pineapple pico and a creamy green avocado sauce. Dinnertime win!


Ingredients

For the salmon

  • 1 pound wild caught salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one drizzle
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil for dairy free)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For the tacos

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 handfuls fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa, available in the grocery refrigerated section)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple rings, optional (see Step 6)
  • 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • Red onion, for garnish


Instructions

  1. Bring the salmon to room temperature. (This is important so that it sears properly; otherwise the inside will be cold when the exterior is cooked. You can also do this by brining it, which helps to ensure there is no “white stuff” or albumin. In a large shallow dish, whisk together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until dissolved. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes.)
  2. Mix the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder in a bowl. Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Rub it with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle it with the ¾ teaspoon kosher salt divided between the filets, then the mix of seasoning.
  3. Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet (not non-stick*) over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about halfway to the center of the thick part of the salmon.
  4. Flip the salmon (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Drizzle with the lime juice and spoon the pan juices a few times again. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 Fahrenheit in the center when removed)**. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then flake the salmon into large pieces with a fork. Taste and add additional pinches of salt if necessary. 
  5. Make the Easy Avocado Sauce: Cut the avocado in half, pit it, and scoop both halves into a food processor (or small blender). Add the Greek yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, and kosher salt, and blend until smooth. Store in a covered jar for up to 5 days refrigerated: it stays green for the entire storage!
  6. Make the pineapple pico (optional): Finely chop 1 cup pineapple rings. Then mix it with ½ cup pico de gallo, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Or, just use 1 cup pico de gallo to keep it simple! 
  7. Warm the tortillas: Warm and char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. (See How to Warm Tortillas.)
  8. Serve: Layer the tacos with salmon, salsa and avocado sauce. Top with minced red onion and chopped cilantro and serve. 

Notes

*You’ll get the best sear from a stainless steel or cast iron skillet.

**If the salmon is not up to temperature by the time the outside is cooked, set your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and finish it in the oven until the temperature is reached.

  • icon clockPrep Time: 20 minutes
  • icon clockCook Time: 10 minutes
  • icon folderCategory: Main dish
  • icon squaresMethod: Stovetop
  • icon flagCuisine: Mexican inspired

Keywords: Salmon tacos, salmon tacos recipe

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