Sometimes you just need something tropical on your dinner table.
We’ve had a few crisp fall days this year, but they’ve been largely overshadowed by grey skies and buckets of rain. With all that dreariness lurking around, I’ve really been in the mood for bright, islandy cuisine. And that, my friends, is the story of how this orange jerk salmon was born.
I got this Jamaican jerk grilling paste a while back because I’m really into convenience makers that don’t come attached to scary additives and preservatives. This little jar found its way into my grocery cart because its ingredient list was limited to the following pronounceable food items: lemon juice, malt vinegar, chili peppers, allspice, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper, spices, and habanero chili.
It’s a rare thing to find something prepackaged that I also feel good about eating, so that alone was a cause for celebration.
I celebrated by smothering it over a few pieces of wild caught salmon— but not before turning it into a sticky sauce, reduced with some freshly squeezed orange juice and a spoonful of butter.
The sauce is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, but that habanero hiding inside really begs for something cool and refreshing to stand up to its heat.
Enter: Mango Coconut Slaw.
This slaw is so easy to make and is as exactly as healthy as it is delicious. Finely sliced cabbage and kale gets combined with shredded coconut and sweet mango (I like to use a slightly under ripe mango for the crunch factor) and it all gets tossed around with some luscious coconut milk and lime juice.
Zesting some of that lime’s skin and sprinkling in some poppy seeds are optional steps that come highly recommended by yours truly.
And what tropical feast would be complete without some fried plantains to sink your teeth into?
For those of you who always passed by the section of giant bananas out of fear, confusion, or a mix of the two.. the time has come for you to meet the plantain. They are not in fact bananas on steroids, but a less sweet, more starchy cousin. When you’re choosing your plantains for frying, go for the ripe ones that are beginning to turn black. (I prefer plantains that are riper than the ones pictured, but since weekend blogging waits for no one, I went with it)
As an FYI, you can ripen your plantains faster by placing them inside a closed brown paper bag.
Don’t go crazy trying to peel the skin off of your plantain, which is decidedly more stubborn than your run of the mill banana (I’m actually curious to see a monkey do it). Start by removing both ends and making two slits down down the length. Loosen the skin a bit and work your way down until all the skin is removed. If any refuses to detach from the plantain, just peel it away with a knife.
Then simply slice, and drop ’em into a cast iron coated in hot coconut oil.
Keeping that tropical theme going, ya know?
Serve it all up with some extra mango and orange slices, a wedge of lime, and absolutely some avocado.
Which makes a daily appearance in at least one of my meals…sometimes all of them. It’s like that favorite sweater that goes with everything.
But putting all thoughts of sweaters aside, let this plate of sunshine transport you to someplace balmy.
Put on some Bob Marley and get cookin’!
- 1 small head of cabbage, or 1/2 of a large head
- 2-4 kale leaves, ribs removed
- 1 mango
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 3/4-1 cup full fat coconut milk
- juice of 1 lime plus zest
- 1 tsp poppy seeds (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 pre-cut wild caught salmon filets
- juice of 2 oranges, zest of one orange
- 1 tablespoon jerk spice grilling paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs butter
- 3-4 ripe plantains (skin blackening)
- coconut oil for frying
- Preheat oven to broil.
- To a small saucepan, add jerk paste, orange juice, and zest. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally, cooking until sauce has reduced to a thick glaze (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and and whisk in butter.
- While sauce is reducing, finely slice cabbage, kale, and mango and add to a mixing bowl. Reserve a few slices of mango for serving.
- To bowl, add shredded coconut, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper, poppy seeds, and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until serving.
- Peel plantains by cutting ends off and making two slits down the length of the plantain. Loosen peel from flesh and work your finger until skin is completely removed. Use a knife to remove any of the skin that remains, and slice into rounds.
- Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium high heat (I used a cast iron). Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add plantain slices and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, smashing them slightly with the back of a wooden spoon, until they are golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel, immediately sprinkling with salt.
- While plantains are frying, place salmon fillets skin side down on a lightly oil sheet pan. Spoon orange jerk glaze over fillets and broil for 5-8 minutes, being careful not to overcook.
- Divide salmon, slaw, and plantains between 4 dishes. Serve with mango slices, avocado, and lime wedges.
*In this recipe, I prefer to use a less ripe mango because I prefer the crunch in the slaw. *Choose plantains that are very ripe, with blackening skin.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.