The rich flavor and firm texture of salmon, one of our favorite fish, pair perfectly with sweet peppers made into pipérade, a Basque relish-like stew of peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic. Piment d’esplette is the authentic seasoning for pipérade, but instead a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne is used, both of which are probably already in your pantry.
And for smoky, meaty flavor, sauté slices of Spanish chorizo; the rendered fat helps cook the vegetables and the browned chorizo simmers with peppers for a few minutes at the end. We prefer salmon at medium-well doneness—that is, cooked until the center is no longer translucent. To cook the fish until opaque throughout, simmer the fillets for a few minutes longer, or until the center reaches 130°F to 135°F. Serve with warm, crusty bread if desired.
Tip: Don’t forget to place the salmon skin side up in the pan. This way, while the fillets cook gently in the pepper mixture, the skin, which we remove before serving, protects the surface from drying out. Also, don’t allow the pepper mixture to simmer vigorously while the fish is in the skillet. Medium heat should ensure a gentle simmer, but adjust the burner as needed.
Salmon with Sweet Peppers and Chorizo
- 4 6-oz. center-cut salmon fillets
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 2 oz. Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 2 medium red or orange bell peppers (or 1 of each), stemmed, quartered lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup dry vermouth or white wine
- 14½ oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 large thyme sprigs
- Season the salmon on both sides with salt. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, combine the oil and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil has taken on a reddish hue and the chorizo begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a small plate and set aside.
- Set the skillet over medium-high and heat the fat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers, onion, paprika, cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are wilted and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the vermouth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes with juices along with the thyme, then bring to a simmer. Nestle the salmon fillets, skin-side up, in the mixture. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer, until the thickest parts of the fillets reach 115°F to 120°F, 6 to 8 minutes. If you want your salmon opaque throughout, cook a few minutes longer.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully peel off and discard the skin from each fillet. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the salmon to serving plates, flipping each piece so the skinned side faces down.
- Bring the pepper mixture to a simmer over medium-high, add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the thyme, then spoon the mixture over and around the salmon and drizzle with additional oil.