OK, I may be biased but when you make this dish you’ll be singing the same tune.
I came up with this recipe while my mom was still alive. She mentioned to me that she was in the mood for salmon but that she didn’t want it to be the regular salmon she always eats (in Puerto Rico, fresh salmon was eaten for a long time by purchasing the canned stuff because salmon is a northern climate fish and we all know Puerto Rico is nowhere near there. So, for a long time this is how they ate “salmon”, from a can, until the introduction of new technologies into La Isla along with the presence of giant food retailers, imported fresh produce then became a reality and they now have access to many food items, fresh salmon being one of them.
Anyway, back to my original story. Most of you know salmon can be pretty dry if not cooked the right way which is why many people don’t like it; so I set myself up for the task of giving my mom a dish she would remember and request whenever she came to visit.
This recipe accomplished that. When mami would come to visit us in Florida, she would say “Angie prepare for me that salmon the way you make it, so delicious”. Now she could very well have been humoring me (because my mom was one of the best cooks ever), but I will always cherish those requests from her and hold them forevermore in my memory.
- TO SEASON FISH:
- 4 large sized salmon steak filets (I use "fresh" salmon not farmed)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 black peppercorns (or ground black pepper)
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- SALSA CRIOLLA:
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
- 1 splash of white wine (optional)
- 1 14-ounce can of mild Rotel (or use 1 14-ounce can of Fire-roasted Diced Tomatoes)
- ½ can of 8-ounce Tomato Sauce
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed and incorporated into sauce (I use Knorr brand)
- 10 pimento stuffed Spanish olives
- ½ cup Chicken Broth (low-sodium)
- 1 small potato, diced into cubes
- In a mortar, combine 2 garlic cloves, black peppercorns and ½ teaspoon of salt. Using a pestle pound the ingredients until it turns into a paste, then break this paste down by adding the vinegar and incorporating the olive oil.
- Use some of this seasoning to season the salmon (or use your own seasoning making sure you don't over season the salmon as you will be adding other things that would render it too salty if you don't check your salt). Set aside.
- Preheat a deep skillet over low to medium heat and glaze the bottom of the skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add your diced onions and sauté until onions are translucent. Add in the remaining 2 minced garlic cloves and mix until garlic is aromatic (do not let the garlic burn).
- Add in the white wine if using and scrape the fine bits of garlic that stuck to the pan (should not be burned).
- Place the remaining ingredients to the skillet, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally and checking that liquid does not evaporate. If liquid does evaporate, place a little more chicken stock to loosen. Your goal is to have a substantial amount of sauce for when you add in the salmon to cook.
- Once potatoes have cooked, place the salmon skin side down and cover the skillet until fish is done turning salmon steaks over at least once. Make sure not to overcook salmon. Salmon is done when it flakes.