Jerk Salmon Tacos/Rice Bowls
Here’s a little secret that may (or may not) change your life: rice bowls and tacos are essentially the exact same thing.
Yes, one involves a bed of beautiful rice (or let’s get real here, any other grain) and the other a tortilla (corn, flour, soft, hard, whatever), but just about everything else can be repurposed from one to the other meaning that meal prep just got a whole lot easier.
Think about it. Shredded pork, great in a taco, great on a rice bowl. Slaws, salsas, avocado, creamy sauces, raw crunchy veg, pickled veg, crispy tofu, roasted salmon, pulled chicken: all very good on a taco, all very good on a rice (or yes, grain) bowl.
Sometimes, I even put those same ingredients on top of a bunch of greens instead of in a tortilla. And then I have a salad for lunch, just as easily as I could of had a taco, with pretty much zero need for creativity.
This means, if you always have tortillas on hand, prep a pot of rice (or other grain) over the weekend, and try to also always have some sort of greens which can handle a hefty salad in the fridge, you will always have the foundation for three great meals. Which means when you roast a whole chicken or make a batch of pickled red onions or prepare a yummy creamy slaw with whatever vegetable odds and ends you want to get rid of, you will be able to eat those things three different ways throughout the week making you feel like your week has variety in a beautiful way, even though you’re eating pretty much the exact same thing every day.
It also means you can wake up and say “I think I want a salad for lunch” and start with the greens which will make you feel like you have choice in the matter, instead of just being bound to your leftovers.
I know 🤯
Here’s another little secret: when my fridge is full of produce and I’m not quite sure which direction I want to go with it all, tacos and grain bowls are my answer, at least 80% of the time. If there isn’t a beautiful recipe saved to my phone telling me what the inspiration is for dinner, I lean on this concept hard, because I don’t know if you knew, but pretty much every single vegetable tastes great in a slaw, in a salsa, pickled, or with a delicious sauce. And if you do a couple of those preparations to your vegetables (or, god forbidden all four), you end up with a flavor bomb of a meal with next to no thought. Oh, it is just the best thing in the world. And so very tasty.
So, when I thawed my (second to last 😭) filet of Copper Valley Fish Collective Salmon on a Monday, for dinner on (taco) Tuesday (which actually ended up being lunch on Wednesday), I knew it would become tacos and I knew I didn’t need to worry about how because there was plenty of fun produce in my fridge. When I saw there was also a pile of leftover cooked rice from the weekend’s tikka masala, I knew I really had nothing to worry about because Kyle and I wouldn’t even have to agree on salmon tacos if we didn’t want to (Kyle hates fish tacos because he’s an odd man).
The hardest part of this amazing culinary secret that everything tastes good on a tortilla, greens, or a bed of grains (and you can swap them back and forth for easy meal prep) is getting the flavors and balance right.
Knowing to use lime for the radishes because it will pair well with the jerk seasoning of the salmon. Making the sauce with sour cream because it will offset the heat of the spicy salmon. Leaving the radishes and onion raw so there’s some crunch. Using enough of each that the meal blends well. You’ll get better with time as you experiment and play.
And in the meantime, you’ll have me, with many, many recipes for grain bowls, tacos and salads to help you figure out some great flavor combinations. If I share one, you’ll now know, that you can swap it to your liking.
So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy this fantastic recipe for Jerk Salmon Tacos (or rice bowls) with a limey radish slaw (the incorporates the greens!) and a creamy chive sauce.
JERK SALMON TACOS (or rice bowls)
My least favorite thing about this recipe (and really all blackened salmon recipes) is that it smokes out my kitchen. Kyle would you tell to grill it instead of using the stovetop. If you don’t have a good hood system, he’s probably right. But now that its open window season, that works okay too. You’ll just cough a bit and need to move your baby temporarily upstairs. Ha. Also, this beautiful meal uses salmon from our friends in Alaska. If you want to learn more about their business (and how you can get your hands on their salmon), keep reading below the recipe.
Takes 20 minutes (plus a little more if you are making rice and cooking it day of)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (or two 8-ounce) filets skin-on salmon*
1 tablespoon sunflower (or other neutral cooking) oil
1 bunch radishes
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced chives
Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, cooked rice (2 cups will be great), or hearty salad greens (spinach, romaine, or kale would work great)
1/4 medium red onion (or scallions if you prefer), thinly sliced
1 mango, optional**
Combine 1 teaspoon salt and other spices in a small bowl. Rub salmon filets with the mixture.
Heat a heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal) over medium heat. Add the oil and wait until it shimmers, about a minute. Add salmon skin-side down and cook for 4 minutes until crisp. Lift the salmon, roll the pan to coat with oil that has pooled to the side, and place the salmon back into the pan skin-side up. Cook an additional 4 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to rest. If you’re a slow chopper (place the salmon in a warm oven while you prepare the slaw and chive sauce).
While the salmon cooks (or rests), prepare your slaw. To do this, remove the radish roots from the greens. Cut the radishes into matchsticks for optimal crunch. You can also shred or slice them if you’re in a hurry. Place them in a small bowl. Finely chop a handful of the radish greens (anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of what was given in your bunch) and add to the radishes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lime juice. Toss to combine. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, and chives until smooth.
To eat tacos, warm tortillas in a warm oven, grill or dry skillet. Top with a generous dollop of the chive sauce. Add pieces of salmon followed by the slaw, red onion, and mango and microgreens, if using.
To eat a rice bowl, scoop a 1/2 cup of warm rice into a large bowl. Add pieces of salmon followed by the slaw, red onion, and mango and microgreens, if using. Top with a generous dollop of the chive sauce.
*Skin off is fine if its all you have.
**I know this delicious sweet sticky amazing fruit did not come from here, or anywhere nearby, and will not now or in a warmer, sunnier time of the year. Generally I don’t love to put non-local ingredients in my recipes, but from time to time I will because I’m enjoying it and think local sourcing is one more place to have balance and grace with oneself. I’ll try to always make these ingredients optional in case you don’t want to procure food that’s traveled many, many miles. If you don’t use the mango, add a couple teaspoons of honey to the radish slaw.
Now that I have fed you, I have one more quick thing to share, and I’m sorry it has next to nothing to do with this recipe and is more of a general piece of joy I want to share about moving to this beautiful reader-supported platform called Substack. So here it goes.
I love Substack because it allows me to do something I never really felt I could do before on my blog, and that is share genuine product plugs and posts that rep local brands I love willy nilly whenever I feel like it.
You may not know this, but the main way bloggers make money is through advertising. Sometimes through annoying ads that pop up on the sides and middle of your screen as you try to read/find the recipe, but sometimes also as product partnerships where a blogger receives money to promote or develop recipes with a particular brand. That partnership funds that recipe development and encourages people to use said product.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with any of that. I LOVE talking about the brands and farms and products I enjoy using in my kitchen. I genuinely love the people I’ve gotten to know in my local food community and the beautiful things they create.
However, this advertiser model feels problematic for me for two main reasons: 1) bloggers (and influencers for that matter) often wind up talking and promoting the brands that can pay them over the ones they truly love (and I don’t fully fault them for that! If you’re out there in the world creating great free content, someone needs to be footing the bill so you can keep creating it) and 2) tiny brands (like you know, all the local ones I truly love and respect and want you to know about) have little to no money to spend in this way.
All of a sudden I felt sort of boxed in. Like I needed to seek out brands that might have the budget to pay me, and then not talk about my friends for free because how was that fair to the awesome brands who wanted to fund me, or like I just wouldn’t be able to make any money from my blog. Maybe I was just missing something. But that’s how I felt.
UNTIL I found Substack, where you find yourself now, reading my words and (hopefully) being inspired by my recipes.
It is a reader-supported model instead of a advertiser-supported model, which means you pay me if you feel like it and I just show up authentically talking about whatever products I adore whenever I want and sharing them with you so you can also love them, and you never need to feel like you’re being sold to because that’s just not at all a part of the equation.
And with that, please allow me to share two local products (okay one local product and one Alaskan product with local roots) that are available right now that I’m very excited about.
Copper Valley Fish Collective Salmon
A dear friend from college (who is a brilliant Assistant Professor of Environmental Health) moved to Alaska, fell in love with a fisherman, and started a really cool collective of super small-scale salmon fisherman with her (now) husband. Her husband fishes all summer in a tiny boat using incredibly hands-on, sustainable methods. He comes home at the end of the season, consolidates his product with other fisherman who have similar micro operations, and they ship it town to the lower 48 via salmon hubs. Because Micah has such deep roots in Madison, she wanted a salmon hub local to the area. Our farm has been that salmon hub for the past several years. Even though we’re not farming this year, we decided to do it again because we just love supporting them and honestly, it’s the best way to stock our freezer with a ton of amazing quality salmon. If you want to learn more or buy some bulk salmon, you can do that on our farm’s website.
Winterfell Acres’ Summer Cut Flower Share
One of my best friends in the world, Bethanee Wright, owns an organic CSA farm just down the road called Winterfell Acres. Her and I met at FairShare CSA Coalition as interns over a decade ago, dreamed of farming together, and ultimately started our farms just one year apart. I am certain I will talk about her a lot this summer because I love her very much and she is keeping me well-fed in produce while we take our break from farming. Anyways, she has an employee who has been growing cut flowers at Beth’s farm the last couple of years and who is selling a cut flower CSA share. Our farm offered a cut flower CSA share the last several years and it was something that brought me endless joy. If you love flowers, want some farm sunshine in your home, need a last minute Mother’s Day gift, or want to support a sweet young woman trying out a new business idea, I recommend heading to the Winterfell website to learn more.