A Painting On A Plate

No wonder Milk Street Tuesday Nights recently won a James Beard Award. Seared Salmon with Avocado Sauce and Tomato-Cilantro Salsa is our fourth recipe from this cookbook, and just like the past three, the flavors are incredible! We both love salmon, but this takes it to another level. Fresh, bright, and with a side of steamed asparagus, healthy to boot… A painting on a plate!

The recipe borrows from Colombia’s take on guacamole—spiked with both lime juice and vinegar as well as fresh chilies—to create an easy, no-cook sauce (extra points for that) for salmon fillets. A fresh tomato-cilantro salsa finishes the dish, adding a bright, acidic note to balance the rich, savory fish.

A note about the salmon. Our supermarket often sells precut 6-ounce fillets as well as large fillets that can be sliced down to preferred size. I initially ordered four 6-ounce sections, but them quickly realized at $8.99 per piece, it was going to cost $36! Instead, I asked for a 1-pound piece, at $14.99, which I broke down into 3 fillets, perfect for the two of us—and our wallet.

Please don’t shy away from using the habañero chili. Its fruity flavor pairs perfectly with the avocado. It does give bold spiciness to the sauce, but the richness of the salmon keeps the heat in check. And if you, or some other family members have a more delicate palate, just use a smidgen of the sauce. We tend to prefer bold flavors, so a hefty dollop was administered in our case.

It makes quite a bit of sauce, so we had leftovers which we then used on some grilled hamburgers the following evening. With still more leftover, it made for a perfect dipping sauce for nacho chips later in the week—waste not, want not…


Singapore Chile Shrimp

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1½ Cups cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 Anaheim chili, stemmed, seeded, cut into rough 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Habañero chili, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1½ Cups fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, divided
  • 1 Ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
  • 4 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (each 1 to 1¼ inches thick), patted dry
  • 1 Tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter


  1. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine the scallions, both chilies, vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and ¾ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ¾ cup of the cilantro and the avocado. With the blender running, stream in 3 tablespoons water and blend until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, scraping the blender jar as needed; if needed, add up to 1 tablespoon more water to achieve the correct consistency. Set aside.
  4. Season the salmon on both sides with salt. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the fillets flesh side down, reduce to medium and cook until golden, about 4 minutes.
  5. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the fillets, add the butter and increase to medium-high. Once the butter stops foaming, spoon it over the fillets, adjusting the heat to prevent the butter from burning. Cook and baste the fish until the thickest parts reach 115°F to 120°F, or are nearly opaque when cut into, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice into the pan and baste the fillets once or twice more.
  7. With a wide metal spatula, transfer the fillets to individual plates. Spoon about 2 tablespoons avocado sauce over each fillet.
  8. Add the remaining ¾ cup cilantro to the tomatoes and toss, then spoon over the salmon.
  9. Serve the remaining avocado sauce on the side, along with lime wedges.


Recipe from Milk Street Tuesday Nights

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