Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chipotle-Glazed Coho Salmon

In response to a reader request, here is the recipe to accompany my October post about the Chipotle-Glazed Salmon we were then serving. Note to readers: wild salmon is out of season right now.

Like most restaurant recipes, this one has several components: there's a base of lentils, the broccolini, the fish itself, the chipotle glaze, and the orange salad. None of these recipes is inherently difficult and you shouldn't be daunted by the length or number of recipes. You should be able to carry this whole meal off start to finish in under an hour, which is how I am going to approach this post. The quantities specified here serve four people.

We'll start with the items that take the longest and work towards the items that take the shortest, which is always how we cook in restaurants. If you ever watch Iron Chef, you'll see that they start with the basic prepwork and the long cooking items first. That's just the normal progression of things.

The two long items are the beluga lentils and the chipotle glaze.

Apricot-Chipotle Glaze

2 cups apricot nectar
1 tablespoon adobo from a can of chipotles, or to taste

Most chipotles come packed in a rich smoky tomato sauce called adobo; that's what you want to use for this recipe. Alternatively, you can seed some chipotles and blend them to a paste. Reduce the apricot nectar in a non-reactive sauce pan over medium flame until it is reduced from two cups to about a half a cup. Stop reducing when you have a nice glaze. Stir in the adobo from the chipotles. Add more to taste.

Beluga Lentils

Beluga lentils are very small, quick cooking black lentils that remain whole and become shiny when cooked, resembling beluga sturgeon caviar.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion in fine dice
1 small carrot in fine dice
1/2 stalk celery in fine dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beluga lentils
1 quart water or stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sweet butter
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the lentils, water, salt, and bay leaf. Simmer the lentils until soft enough for your taste. 25-30 minutes is usually enough for me. Remove the bay leaf, drain the lentils and reserve warm. When you are ready to serve them, add the thyme and butter and bring them back to temperature. Season to taste.

Orange Salad

2 oranges, segmented
1/2 small red pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 green onions, sliced into 1/2" segments
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients and let stand at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the meal. Adjust seasoning to taste.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 salmon filets
salt and pepper

Heat a heavy sauté pan over high flame and film with the oil. Season both sides of the salmon filets. Sear the top side of the salmon until well browned, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the salmon and sear the bottom side. Brush the top side with the chipotle glaze while the bottom side is cooking.

When you stop cooking is a matter of personal preference. I would stop at the point at which the salmon is still medium rare in the center. If you would like to cook it more, place the fish into a hot oven and cook until as done as you like.


1 bunch broccolini
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Once you have started the fish cooking, drop the broccolini into the water and cook until as tender as you like it, 2-4 minutes. The natural sequence would be: start the fish, start the broccolini, flip the fish, stop cooking the broccolini. While the broccolini is cooking, heat the butter or oil, garlic, red pepper, and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a small pan until the garlic is cooked. Remove the broccolini from the water, drain, and toss with the butter or oil. Reserve warm.


Refer to the photo above for how you want the finished dish to look. In the well of four large soup plates, make a disk of lentils using about a 4" diameter ring mold. If you don't have a ring mold, just spoon the lentils into the bowl in neat piles. Place 3-4 pieces of broccolini over the lentils and the fish over the broccolini. Brush the fish with more chipotle glaze. Mound a little orange salad on top and drizzle the plate with more glaze.

You can help me write better recipes by posting any questions you have.

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