Spice-rubbed salmon with ginger-buttermilk sauce

So tonight, for New Year’s Eve, I decided to make a spice-rubbed salmon, broiled, then drizzled with a ginger-buttermilk sauce. (More about the sauce later.) I’ve done variants of this salmon before, but made a few different tweaks tonight that turned out pretty well. Basically, this is a garam masala-based spice rub, so you could use an off-the-shelf version, if you like.

Let’s make it!

Assemble all the ingredients: about a pound of fresh salmon fillet, coarse sea salt, and a mix of the following: 1 teaspoon each of ground black pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander; 1/2 scant teaspoon each of smoked paprika (or regular sweet paprika) and ground cinnamon; and 1/4 scant teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cloves, all combined into one small bowl. Also, not shown, olive oil and (optional) lemon juice.


First, heat a small sauce or sauté pan (no oil!!) and then add the ground spices to it.


Stir constantly until the fragrances release, about 60 seconds, then remove from heat. You’ll see that the spices have deepened in color, too, and are much more aromatic than they were before.


Next, cut the salmon fillet into 4 servings (roughly 1/4 pound each), then rub with olive oil all around.


Once they’re nice and glistening, rub them thoroughly with the spice mixture, pressing the spices into the salmon on all sides.


Now, and this is an important step, let the fillets rest at least 20-30 minutes! This allows the spices to dry out slightly.

In the meantime, make the buttermilk-ginger sauce with 1 cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (grated), 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.


Add the ground ginger, honey, and salt to the buttermilk.

IMG_6280Because I hadn’t ground the fresh ginger as finely as I’d have liked, I then blended it in my small mini-food processor to make sure it was nice and smooth.


Let this rest at least 10 minutes or so the flavors can blend. While you’re waiting, preheat the oven by setting the broiler so that it’s nice and hot. Then, spread one (or, ideally, two) layers of aluminum foil over the bottom of a heavy pan, then place the fillets in the pan.


Broil at least 3 inches away from the top heat for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.


Serve by pouring a little buttermilk-ginger sauce over the top.**

We served this tonight with a lightly oaked (emphasis on the “lightly” part) Virginia Chardonnay from Jefferson Vineyards — their 2014 Reserve Chardonnay. (And, by the way, 2014 was a good vintage for Virginia wines.) Enjoy!

** Next time, I think I’ll use nonfat Greek yogurt instead of the buttermilk, by the way.



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