Grilled Susitna River Coho Salmon with Peach Salsa

Grilled Salmon topped with Peach Salsa

See if you can say this three times fast… Oncorhynchus Kisutch. That's the scientific name for Coho Salmon and this week we’ve whipped up something extra special for your dining pleasure – a sassy summertime salsa, featuring the lovely peach, "Queen" of the summer fruits, paired with Coho Salmon flown in fresh from the Cook Inlet of the Susitna River in Alaska.

We simply can't get enough peaches around here! Lucky for us, Illinois and Michigan hit a bumper crop…and they are delicious. You can enjoy this salsa on its own with your favorite tortilla chips, but we especially like it atop grilled salmon.

This week’s recipe: Grilled Susitna River Coho Salmon with Peach Salsa

What you need:

2 6-ounce salmon fillets

2 small peaches, peeled and diced

¼ c. fresh lime juice

2 tsp honey

2-3 Tbs diced red bell pepper

1 Tbs finely minced jalapeno pepper

1 heaping Tbs chopped cilantro

1 small clove garlic, finely minced

2 Tbs finely chopped red onion

Why we like it:

Salmon and peaches are magical when paired together. Not only do they taste great, the Omega-3 fatty acids in the salmon and the antioxidants in the peaches are a powerful combination to help boost your heart health. Who knew?

We’ll start by preparing the salsa. When making salsa, it’s better to let the ingredients sit together so the flavors have time to infuse. If you have time, you should try to make the salsa a few hours before you want to eat it. Of course, if you don't have time, then just dig in!

We'll start by attending to our peaches. We like "cling" peaches for salsa because they are firmer than the "freestone" varieties. They do, however, require a bit more work. A good method for freeing the pit is to cut small wedges in the peach until you can pull or scoop out the pit.

Cutting wedges of peach

You want to dice up your peach to a uniform size, and then add that to your mixing bowl.

Dicing up the peaches

Next we'll turn our attention to dicing up the red bell pepper. Here’s a neat trick when working with peppers – slice off the top and turn it over so that the cut side rests on the cutting board. Now you have a flat surface from which to cut. Starting at the base of the pepper (which is now the top), slice down towards the cutting board, following the curve of the pepper. Continue to do this all the way around the pepper until all you have left on the board is the center cord of seeds and the pith.

Next, lay a section flat and very carefully shave the thin inner membrane off with a sharp knife. This is the part of the pepper which contains a slightly bitter taste. Drop that in the trash (or your compost) and you can dice the pepper slices up.

How easy and clean was that?

Dicing the red pepper

Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and set aside. Next we’ll chop our red onion. In case you missed it, in a recent blog, we included a great tip for how to cut onions without crying. Check it out if you need the refresher. Once your onion is chopped, add it to the bowl with the red pepper. Now we’ll move on to the garlic.

Slicing the red onion

People often wonder about the meaning of a “clove” of garlic. You’ve probably noticed, not all cloves are created equal. Sometimes they are teeny tiny; other times HUGE. Use your judgment and taste preferences when deciding how many cloves to include.

When it comes to mincing the garlic, here’s a handy tip. Place the clove on your cutting board. Take your knife and lay the flat part of the blade on top of the clove. Press down with the palms of your hand to apply gentle pressure on the clove. Like magic, it will pop out from the skin! (You may need to do a little work to pull pieces of the skin from the squashed clove, but they’ll come away quite easily.

Next, you want to cut off the base that secured the clove to the bulb. (It’s rather woody in texture and won’t be missed, believe us.)

To mince your garlic, begin by cutting the entire clove into thin slices. Go back over your work, making slices perpendicular to the previous slices. Finally, run your knife back and forth, back and forth over the pile of sliced garlic until a uniform texture is achieved. Scoop up the minced garlic and add it to the bowl.

To remove the garlic smell from your hands, simply wash your hands with soap and water, rub a stainless steel utensil in your hands, then wash with soap and water again. How about that?

Now we’ll chop our cilantro. You just want to make the leaves a similar size so that they’re evenly dispersed throughout the salsa. Cilantro is a lovely way to brighten up the dish, but no one wants a huge hunk of it. You should taste a little in every bite.

Chopping cilantro

If you’re using fresh limes, now is the time to slice and juice them. For ¼ cup of juice, you will probably need two limes. Simply slice them in half, place the halves, one at a time, in your hand juicer and squeeze. You can do this directly over the bowl of onion, pepper, peaches, garlic and cilantro. (If using bottled lime juice, go ahead and add that to the bowl.)

Juicing the lime

While we’re measuring, go ahead and add your honey to the bowl.

Adding honey to the salsa

Last but not least…the feared jalapeno. Remember, this is optional. If you have sensitivity to spicy foods, you don’t have to include it. For those who enjoy a little kick, it does complement the peaches nicely while providing a subtle heat.

We save the jalapeno for last so that you’re not constantly coming into contact with the oils when cutting your other items on the cutting board. (If you start with the jalapeno, you could wash your knife and cutting board before moving on to the other items, but that seems like extra work for an easy weeknight meal.) So how to cut that pesky pepper without regretting it later – how many times have you handled raw jalapeno peppers, then hours later, removed your contact lenses for instance, only to experience a painful burning sensation? Yes, many of us have been there before. With careful planning, and a few insider tips, you can avoid future pain today.

If you happen to have latex gloves lying around your house, now would be a perfect time to use them. Putting a barrier between you and the capsacin (the oils responsible for the burn) is the best method for avoiding the pain. A plastic ziplock bag used as a mitten will do in a pinch.

Slice off the top of the pepper first, then cut the pepper in half, lengthwise. Lay each half on the cutting board and, ever so carefully, use the tip of your knife to remove the pith and the seeds. Try not to touch them! This is where the heat is most concentrated! Push the pitch and seeds off to the side using your gloved hand, then proceed to mince the jalapeno pepper. Once minced, add that to your bowl. Take off your gloves and mix the ingredients in the bowl together until thoroughly combined – you don’t want to mash the peaches, but you want to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours – overnight is best.

Slicing the jalapenoMixing together the peach salsa

Now lets grill up some salmon! Get your grill ready and prepare it for high direct heat. Then season the fish. For this recipe, we like a little oil (to prevent sticking on the grill) and a simple seasoning of salt and pepper.

Brush each fillet with a little olive oil, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. When the grill is ready, place the fillets on the grill, furthest from the coals (if using charcoal; if using gas or a stovetop, reduce heat to medium) skin side down to start. Close the grill lid and cook for 1-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Using tongs, turn the filets over, close the grill lid, and allow to cook another 2-5 minutes. The salmon should be just barely opaque throughout when done.

Grilling the Coho Salmon

Remove from the grill and place each fillet on a plate. Top with a generous portion of your chilled, flavor-infused peach salsa on top, pour yourself a tall glass of your favorite beverage, and take a seat on your back patio to enjoy one of the last warm nights of the season with a meal that boasts some of its finest flavors. Mmm mmm mmm!

Bon appétit!

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