This Sweet and Spicy Salmon is coated in a delicious homemade spice rub and then can be pan seared or cooked on the grill. Ready in less than 10 minutes. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down
Do you have a favorite food combination? Dessert, dinner, breakfast, whatever...you have to have things together. Like, some people like sweet and sour. Or hot and garlicky. Or sweet and salty. For me, it's sweet and spicy. I cannot get enough of that flavor combination, especially with seafood. I'm not sure why seafood specifically but there's something about it and the combo of sweet sugar and spicy pepper, chili powder, and paprika that makes me want to eat everything I've cooked and then lick the plate.
There are hardly ever leftovers when I make this Sweet and Spicy Salmon either. There is sometimes almost an injury though if it comes down to the last piece and me and the hubs are about to have a fork-fight about it. (Maybe I'm exaggerating, maybe not.)
For this salmon recipe, I created a spice rub to use with it before cooking. A simple homemade spice rub makes a great complement to the salmon but also works well with other proteins. As an added bonus, this meal can be made in under 20 minutes. Say what?
Side Dishes Serve with Sweet and Spicy Salmon
This is where you can feel free to go crazy. So many good sides would go with this salmon recipe.
- When I made this salmon the first time, I paired it with some simple braised kale, sprinkled with a little cotija cheese.
- You could also try steaming or braising another hardy, leafy greens like collard greens, spinach, or even Swiss chard. I like to add a little lemon, red pepper flakes and some crumbled feta to the finished product.
- Roasted veggies of nearly any sort would pair perfectly with this salmon dish.
- A simple side salad would go great with this seafood dish.
- Try making a side of white or brown rice or quinoa with a little Italian seasoning and olive oil for flavor.
- This Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is to die for and goes really well with seafood of all sorts.
- Parmesan Zucchini Noodles are a great, low-carb side that goes with really most anything.
- How about some garlic naan or toasted pita bread on the side? Just have half with a spritz of olive oil or margarine.
- Roasted red, russet, or sweet potatoes go great with salmon too.
How to make a dry rub for salmon?
A dry rub is...you guessed it...dry. So, unlike a marinade (which is a wet mixture), a dry rub is a dry mix of spices that you literally pat or rub onto your meat or seafood. It creates a nice texture to your protein and as it sears and adheres to the outside of your meat, it ensures you get a taste of all the flavorings with every bite.
I like to first spray my seafood (or chicken or beef or pork) with cooking spray or a little olive oil to help the spices adhere before rubbing the mixture all over the protein. I suggest cooking it pretty soon after you rub the spices in and not let it sit in the fridge too long or the spices will start to get wet from the meat and no longer be, well, a dry rub if you know what I mean.
Here's the recipe for my favorite sweet and spicy rub for salmon. You can play with the portions to have more or less heat, more sweetness, extra garlic, etc.
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
How do you grill salmon?
Once I have all my spices mixed together and rubbed onto the salmon, it's ready for the grill.
I like to grill salmon over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes per side. I will adjust this cooking time slightly depending on the thickness of the salmon and what kind of grill I am cooking on. If you are worried the salmon will stick to your grill, use cooking-spray-coated aluminum foil on the grill first or oil your grates before you heat up your grill.
You want the fish to be flaky and cooked through, but not undercooked and rubbery in the middle.
How to pan sear salmon?
Pan searing salmon is a great way to quickly cook salmon so it has a nice crunchy outside and is perfectly cooked inside. Start by bringing the salmon to room temperature. This really helps to ensure the salmon cooks evenly and quickly.
Then heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon, skin side down, and gently press down on the salmon. This will prevent the skin from curling. Let the salmon cook for 4-5 minutes until it is becoming pink and opaque on the sides. Then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes for fully cooked salmon. If you prefer medium cooked salmon, turn the heat off when you flip the salmon. It will continue to cook from the residual heat.
Sweet and Spicy Salmon
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In a small bowl, mix together all of the dry spices.
Spray each piece of salmon with cooking spray and rub the spice rub onto the fish.
In a pan: Using a saute pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the salmon, skin side down, and cook on one side for 4-5 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until done to your liking. For medium cooked salmon, turn the heat off when you flip the fish and let it continue to cook in the pan for 2-3 minutes.
On the grill: Place the salmon on the grill skin side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes until it is becoming pink and opaque on the sides. Flip and cook for 2-5 minutes to the level of doneness you prefer. For easier flipping, place the salmon on foil to be sure it won't stick to the grill.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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