You know when you are invited to a potluck and the host says, "why don't you bring some chips and salsa?" It's a crowd pleaser and it seems like most people can't get enough of chips and salsa. I think I am the minority in this. I like chips and salsa, but I don't love it. It's kind of like me and peanut butter- for the most part I could take it or leave it. But remember how I said I was obsessed with cherries? Yeah, they're pretty amazing. And a salsa with cherries in it? Now that is a salsa I can get behind.
Not too long ago I had the most perfect pineapple in my house. I ate it raw, grilled it and simply stared at it with adoration, as it sat on my wooden counter top. When I had the opportunity to pair some of the pineapple with a lovely wild salmon fillet, I knew the cherries would be jealous if they were not included. Suddenly I was inspired and a new potluck salsa was born.
You know what's great about making your own salsa? There are no rules. I think that is why I tend to yawn over store-bought salsa. Tomatoes, onions, peppers.... it's what you always expect. Nothing surprises me. So when you get a chance to make your own salsa, that's when your mind should open a bit. It's like a salad- what can you NOT put in it? For your homemade salsa, use sun dried tomatoes instead of raw tomatoes. Grill the peppers first! Caramelize the onions- or pickle some shallots first! MMmmmmmmmm the possibilities.
Two tips I learned when cooking fish. 1) Always sear fish flesh side down to start 2) Fish will usually tell you when it is ready to flip. You know when you are grilling/searing a gorgeous fish and you try to turn it and half the meat is still sticking to the pan/grill? Such disappointment! If your pan/grill is hot enough and oiled enough, the fish should easily come off the pan/grill when the flesh has caramelized and is ready to turn. This is a really good rule of thumb for cooking all proteins. One word of caution though- fish cooks fast and can be easily over-cooked, AND it will continue to cook once you have taken it off the heat.
What's nice about not having rules about making salsa? Not having to put it on salmon! Yes! That's right. This salsa and any other salsa that you make can go on chicken, pork, white fish, scallops or even eaten alone. I bet tofu under the right marinade would even benefit! (okay that may be going a bit far, but why not?)
Grilled Salmon with Cherry, Pineapple, Mango Salsa
(Makes approximately 3 cups salsa)
1 mango, diced
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 peach, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted, diced
1/2 cup Anaheim peppers, seeded, diced
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chiffonade
1 lime, zested and juiced (keep zest and juice)
2 small splashes olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
8-12 ounces salmon fillet
Combine all the above ingredients except the olive oil and salmon into a mixing bowl. Stir gently. Add one splash of olive oil and taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Lightly oil and season a salmon fillet with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place flesh side down on a cleaned and oiled grill or pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness. Flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Salmon will be cooked when the flesh is no longer opaque. I tend to like it pretty rare, but it's your salmon- cook it how you want it!
Top salmon with salsa and serve!