Sunday, April 1, 2012

Southwestern Salmon with Black-Eyed Pea Succotash and Yellow Pepper Sauce

In my ongoing search for new and original ways to serve fish on Monday nights, I hit a homerun this week with this dish.

For some reason, I got the idea that broiled salmon and succotash might make an interesting combination. Certainly salmon and corn go together. Searching the web, I found this recipe for salmon with fresh black-eyed peas, although I liked better this recipe for black-eyed pea succotash. And, in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook Restaurant Favorites at Home, there was an intriguing recipe for Chile-Rubbed Salmon with Smoked Yellow Pepper Sauce. I decided to combine elements from all these sources to come up with my own dish.

One of the things that drew me to these recipes was the combination of flavors: the spicy/savory fish, the sweet pepper sauce and the hearty succotash. I decided that I wanted a good dose of smoky flavor to unite these elements, so I added some bacon to the succotash, chipotle chili powder to the salmon and smoked sea salt to all three components.

I also wanted a good herbal flavor. I thought about cilantro, but decided to experiment with fresh oregano, another herb common to southwestern dishes. I use dried oregano frequently, but rarely have I used it fresh. Now I can see why: it's kind of a pain. The stems are thick and the leaves are small. Getting the leaves off the stems is almost as much fun as picking off individual leaves of thyme. I had planned on adding fresh oregano leaves to the succotash as it cooked, but I lost patience after peeling off the 2 tablespoons I needed for the garnish and just added two whole sprigs instead.

I couldn't have been happier with this dish. And Chris, who sometimes complains about having to eat fish every Monday, was raving about it. That's a win in my book.

Southwestern Salmon with Black-Eyed Succotash and Yellow Pepper Sauce
Inspired by Red Chile-Rubbed Salmon with Smoked Yellow Pepper Sauce from America's Test Kitchen's Restaurant Favorites at Home and Nathan Lyon's Corn and Black Eyed Pea Succotash

Makes 4 servings

Yellow pepper sauce:

1 yellow pepper
1 tbsp. red onion, minced (*see onion instruction in succotash ingredients below)
1 tbsp. lime juice (juice from 1/2 lime)
1 tsp. honey
Smoked sea salt to taste
1-2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves

Black-eyed pea succotash:

2 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch strips (lardons)
1 medium red onion, diced (*reserve about 1 tbsp. of the diced onion and mince it more finely to use in the yellow pepper sauce, see yellow pepper sauce ingredients above)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Smoked sea salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
2 sprigs of fresh oregano
1 16 oz. can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Chili-rubbed salmon:

2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lb. salmon fillets
Olive oil spray

(In terms of preparation, I recommend starting by broiling the yellow pepper and prepping the ingredients for the succotash. The salmon is easy to prepare and cooks in just 10 minutes, so plan to do that last.)

To make the yellow pepper sauce:
1. Adjust oven rack about 6 inches from broiler and preheat. 
2. Cut pepper to lay flat on a baking sheet. Broil until blackened, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
3. Once cooled, use your fingers to peel off the charred skin. Coarsely chop the pepper and add to food processor with minced onion, lime juice, honey and smoked salt. Process until pureed. With the machine running, use the feed tube to add olive oil in a slow stream to emulsify the mixture. Set aside until ready to use.

To make the succotash:
1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until fat renders and bacon crisps. Remove cooked bacon with a slotted spoon. Pour off any fat in excess of about 2 tablespoons.
2. Add onion, garlic, smoked salt and black pepper and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add corn, tomatoes and oregano. Cook about 5 minutes. Add peas and vinegar. Stir to combine and cook another 2 minutes to heat through. Turn off heat. Remove oregano sprigs before serving.

To make the salmon:
1. Adjust oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat (it may still be hot from the yellow pepper). 
2. Stir together the chili powders, cumin, smoked salt and pepper. Place fillets skin side down on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil. Rub the chili mixture onto the flesh side of the fillets. Spray fillets with olive oil.
3. Place salmon under broiler and broil about 5 minutes. Flip fillets and broil another 5 minutes. Remove and discard crisped skin and checked for doneness. Cut salmon fillets to make four servings.

Assemble the dish:
Mound succotash on plate. Top with a salmon fillet then a few spoonfuls of the yellow pepper sauce and finally a sprinkling of fresh oregano.


  1. We've been eating fish almost every Monday night for years, and you've done a good job mixing it up lately, although you really outdid yourself here.

    It wasn't just the succotash and sauce, either. The salmon itself was really superb.

    Thank you for preparing this and restoring my appreciation for our Monday fish nights!

  2. Thanks! I like that the dish was really colorful too.

  3. This was awesome. My salmon came out perfect! I did have to substitute the ancho and chipotle chile for what I had (new Mexico and paprika) . My kids and I loved it! Thank You.

    1. I'm so glad! I really enjoyed the dish and was actually thinking of making it again soon.