Smoked paprika salmon is an easy Mexican salmon recipe that is seasoned, pan-fried (or baked), and served alongside sweet and spicy mango salsa. A quick salmon dinner for busy and hungry weeknights!
About paprika salmon
Too tired to cook? Are there too many things going on in your life that dinner is the last thing on your mind? I’ve been there several times. And this is a recipe that spring to my mind when disaster strikes. No, seriously. This is one of those quick and easy dinner recipes you can make with your eyes closed. I mean, not literally, but you get the point.
Having salmon in my fridge almost always helps tremendously. It cooks incredibly fast, tastes delicious, requires only mild seasoning with a few ingredients, and is so versatile that it can be baked (like salmon kabobs), pan-fried (brown butter honey garlic salmon) or steamed. Any mode of cooking salmon doesn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.
Like most of my seafood recipes, this Mexican-style salmon needs only a handful of ingredients with smoked paprika being the dominant flavor. Smoked paprika is a fine powder with a deep warm red colour. It is made by drying peppers over smoking oak wood for many days. It has a wonderful smoky, slightly charred savoriness that complements the bold flavor of salmon. Salmon with paprika is more than a match made in heaven!
Season the salmon fillets and splash some lime juice on them before frying/baking. Serve them with the simple mango salsa. Can healthy cooking get easier than this?
A QUICK TIP: Make it a keto spicy salmon by using butter instead of oil for pan-frying.
Ingredients for salmon
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page.)
- Salmon fillets- I like to use small fillets (about 150 gms/ 5.3 oz) that are about 1 to 1-1/4 inch thick.
- Oil- olive oil gives a nice flavor to the salmon and is not overpowering.
- Lime juice or lemon juice- always goes well with seafood.
- smoked paprika
- ground cumin
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper and salt
How to make smoked paprika salmon- step by step
Season the salmon fillets with the spice mix. Squeeze lime juice onto the fillets.
Heat oil in a frying pan and place salmon skin side down into the hot oil. Cook on medium-high flame. Flip after 2-3 minutes. Cook the other side for about 2-3 minutes until done. I like my salmon well done, but if you want it cooked rare or medium-rare, reduce the cooking time accordingly.
Fruit salsa for salmon with paprika
A simple mango salsa complements the spicy flavors of paprika salmon. (and the taste to effort ratio is appetizingly high!) For the mango salsa, you’ll need
- Ripe mango
- jalapeno or green chillies
- lime juice
- Pink salt or sea salt
Finely chop all ingredients. Remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos if you don’t want the salsa spicy. Toss all ingredients together. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve paprika salmon with the salsa. Or flake the salmon into chunks and load them onto tortillas with mango salsa and no-mayo cabbage slaw and drizzle the spicy avocado sauce on top to make tacos or wraps for a healthy dinner.
- If you like more spice in your salmon, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili powder to the seasoning mix.
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs like oregano or dill can be added to the seasoning.
- If you have an avocado, chop finely and add to the mango salsa. (Remember to increase the seasoning: chili, salt and lime juice.)
- Have pineapple at home? Make this pineapple pico de gallo salsa that also works great with the smoked paprika flavor.
Baked salmon with mango salsa
This salmon recipe can also be baked in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Season the fillets with the spice mix. Place them in an oven-proof dish or tray.
- Pour lime juice over the fillets and spray olive oil.
- Bake until done for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serve with mango salsa.
Do you cook salmon on both sides?
When you pan-fry salmon, cook skin side down for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes more, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Cooking on both sides ensures that the salmon is browned evenly and also perfectly cooked on the inside.
Baking usually cooks the salmon evenly so you don’t have to flip it when you’re baking.
How do you not overcook the salmon?
A perfectly cooked salmon should be opaque and seared on the outside, and slightly pinkish on the inside. When you cut throught the thickest part, the inside should be pink but firm (and not raw and translucent). The key is to bring the salmon to room temperature before cooking. A cold salmon fillet will get either overcooked and rubbery on the outside or undercooked on the inside. Leave it on the kitchen counter for about 15 to 20 minutes before frying.
Another reason salmon gets overcooked is the cooking temperature and time- ensure the oil is hot when you place the salmon (the oil should sizzle) and cook on medium-high flame for about 2-3 minutes each side. If you’re worried the salmon would be undercooked inside, it won’t if you ensure the salmon is at room temperature before cooking.
Can I use chili powder instead of smoked paprika?
Smoked paprika is a milder spice than chili powder or cayenne pepper. It also has a characteristic savory smokiness that you’ll only get from smoked spices. That is the main flavor that makes this recipe special. In addition to smoked paprika, you can add cayenne pepper for the heat, but try not to replace it with any other spice.
Looking for more?
★★★★★Did you try this recipe? Please give a star rating in the comments below.★★★★★
HUNGRY FOR MORE? Join over 1000 home cooks like you who subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get all the latest recipes right in your inbox.
Thank you and happy cooking!