Savory Summer Magic
This Salmon with Adobo Sauce and Blackberry Cucumber Salsa is one of my favorite dishes to enjoy during the summer berry season. Bright pink salmon, smothered in a spicy adobo sauce and pan-fried until it’s skin is delightfully crisp, it’s flesh tender, and the air is spicy with aromatics. The sweet + citrusy flavor of the Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa helps temper the heat, and pairs just as perfectly with this salmon as it does scooped onto tortilla chips — so make extra because you’re probably going to eat half of it before it ever reaches the salmon!
What is adobo?
Adobo can refer to both a cooking technique as well as a sauce or seasoning. The adobo cooking technique is thought to have originated in both the Philippines and Spain, separately, as a method of preservation before modern refrigeration was possible. Meat and fish were preserved in a salt and vinegar-based sauce when warm temperatures make storing meat safely difficult. In the Philippines, the sauce was often seasoned with black peppercorns and bay leaves and in Spain, the sauce was often seasoned with paprika, oregano, and garlic. Though modern refrigeration is used for adobo now, the marinading of meat in a spiced vinegar-based sauce is still a common technique in both cuisines.
Adobo can also refer to a sauce or seasoning mix itself, rather than a technique. The type I use as a base in this recipe takes roots in Latin American cuisine as chipotle chiles en adobo, a combination of smoked jalapeno peppers that are stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic, paprika, vinegar, and salt. When combined with an additional measure of garlic, spices, and some citrus, this sauce is particularly delicious on fish.
My Adobo Sauce Ingredients
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – smoked jalapeno peppers stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices provide the base for this sauce. These are easily found in most grocery stores in the International food aisle and are often packaged in a can. A little really goes a long way with these spicy peppers, so you will need no more than 3 peppers plus a bit of sauce to really pack a proper punch in this Adobo sauce.
- Garlic oil – I generally use garlic-infused oil (like this one) though you can feel free to substitute whole garlic + olive oil if you prefer. I’ve included a measurement for this swap in the recipe below.
- Lime zest – The natural oils in lime zest really brighten the recipe up and add delicious aromatics. Make sure that you are only zesting the green part as the white flesh is bitter. One of the most well-loved tools in my kitchen is my citrus zester.
- Coriander – Though produced from the same plant as cilantro, coriander has a very different flavor profile. It adds mild citrusy undertones to this dish that play up the lime zest well.
- Sea Salt – Good salt can make a world of difference in any dish. Salt acts to enhance the flavor and balance any bitterness you may get from the chili peppers.
- Cracked Black Pepper – Keeping peppercorns on hand for my grinder seems like such a simple thing, but it’s so much better than the preground alternative. These are the peppercorns and grinder I use.
- Food Processor – Though technically a tool, not an ingredient, it is essential that you have a food processor or blender to make this recipe.
Balancing the heat
I consider the adobo sauce by itself to be quite spicy for my medium-hot palate, so bear that in mind when you dip a spoon in for a taste before adding to the salmon. However, capsaicin, the natural compound responsible for a chili pepper’s heat is tempered somewhat when paired with fat or acid, so the heat from the sauce is tempered by the naturally fat-rich salmon.
The Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa further tempers the heat with an infusion of natural acidity. I make mine with a combination of cucumber, fresh summer blackberries, creamy avocado, cilantro, salt, and both the juice and zest of a lime.
What to serve this Salmon with Adobo Sauce and Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa with?
Because this dish packs such a bold spicy flavor, I prefer to serve it with a simple side. This Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is my favorite option to pair with this as it provides a great base for soaking up all of the delicious sauce and oils from the fish, with a bit of citrus to further temper the heat a bit. Other great options are to serve this fish in corn tortillas, with grilled veggies, or a simply dressed green salad.
WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE?
- A food processor or blender
- A cutting board
- A chefs knife
- A citrus juicer
- A citrus zester
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
- A basting brush
- A cast-iron pan or other oven-safe pan (must be safe for 425 degrees F)
- A fish spatula
- A meat thermometer
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
A note for special diets
This Salmon with Adobo Sauce and Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa can be friendly for gluten-free, grain-free, and low-carb diets — However, you’ll want to pay attention to the nutrition label on the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that you utilize in this recipe as some may contain additional additives such as wheat, corn, or sugar. The brand that I generally purchase is San Marcos, which contains chipotle peppers, tomato puree, onions, vinegar, canola oil, salt, paprika, garlic, and a small amount of sugar (2g per serving).
If you’d like to limit the sugar content even further, Frontera makes an option which is also grain-free but does have a negligible amount of evaporated cane sugar – there is 0g of sugar actually listed on the nutrition facts meaning there is less than 1 gram per serving. The ingredient list on my jar shows that they contain: chipotle pepper, filtered water, roasted tomato, onion, garlic, organic distilled vinegar, evaporated cane sugar, tomato paste, salt, and oregano. I find this option to be tasty, but significantly less spicy than the San Marcos, so take note of this when accounting for heat.Print
This Salmon with Adobo Sauce and Blackberry Cucumber Salsa is spicy, sweet, and citrusy, and best enjoyed in the peak of summer berry season.
Salmon with Adobo Sauce:
- 3 chipotle chilis + 1 tbsp of sauce from a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
- 1 tbsp garlic oil (may sub 1 tbsp olive oil + 1/2 tsp minced garlic)
- zest from one lime (reserve the juice for the salsa)
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 lb salmon filet with skin on, deboned and portioned into 4 pieces (I prefer Sockeye)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil or cooking oil of choice
Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa:
- 1 1/2 cups English cucumber, diced
- 1 cup blackberries, I usually only halve these if they are on the large side
- 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- juice of 1 lime
I love to serve this recipe with a side of this Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
For the Salmon with Adobo Sauce:
- In a food processor or blender, pulse the chipotle chilis, adobo sauce, garlic oil, lime zest, coriander, sea salt, and pepper until evenly blended and smooth.
- Using a basting brush, cover the salmon evenly with the adobo sauce blend.
- You can cook the salmon one of two ways, on the stovetop over medium-high heat or in the oven at 425 degrees F (218 C). I prefer to use a large cast-iron pan for both methods.
- If cooking the salmon on the stovetop, allow the oiled cast iron pan to heat up fully over medium-high heat, then add the oil, then the salmon. This helps prevent the salmon from sticking to the cast iron. Carefully transfer the salmon to the pan skin side up. Be careful as it is easy to splatter the adobo sauce in the hot pan. Allow the salmon to cook undisturbed for 5-6 minutes and then gently flip to the opposite side with a fish spatula. When you flip the salmon to the skin side it should have a bit of char on the top. Cook on the opposite side (skin side down) for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the fish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- If cooking the salmon in the oven, place the cast-iron pan in the oven as you set it to preheat so that it begins to come to temperature before adding the fish. Once the oven is preheated, remove the pan from the oven and brush with oil, then add the fish skin side down. Be very careful when doing this as the pan is likely to sizzle and splatter the oil and sauce at this point. Return the fish to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes or until the fish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
For the Blackberry Cucumber Avocado Salsa:
- Gently toss the salsa ingredients together until well-combined. Serve directly on top of the cooked salmon.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 418
- Sugar: 3 g
- Sodium: 1267 mg
- Fat: 23 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 10 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 46 g
- Cholesterol: 108 mg
Keywords: Salmon with Adobo Sauce