These tacos are my love song to early summer.
The weather the past two weeks has been like a pubescent teenager, struggling between the raging hormones of thunderstorms and quick, heavy rains, and overwhelming sunshine accompanied by cool, breezy winds. The two weeks of Spring that central Texas receives are on their way out, and the days of 90-degrees-and-rising temperatures are quickly moving in.
It’s a gorgeous transition. As I write this, I’m sitting on our back porch, staring out at our shoddily patched up wooden fence, bleached tan by years of relentless sunshine beaming down on it. The grass is a vibrant, lush, makes-you-wish/think-you’re-in-Scotland kind of green, and it keeps growing faster than our push lawnmower can tame it. The dogs are moseying, nibbling at blades of grass. Watson finds a butterfly on the ground and accidentally squishes it, then gets super cute and sad. Scout, in all her age and girth, rolls on her back to expose her graying belly to the sun. Our garden is exploding with life – little peppers and teeny tiny, flawless green tomatoes are sprouting out. The wind is warm and my ankles are getting a little Vitamin D while the rest of my body maintains its vampire-like state of paleness. And there’s a margarita on the wooden table that the boy built with his own two hands and Disney prince forearms.
This beautiful time of seasonal transition has me inspired, and I’m soaking it up while it lasts. In about two months’ time, this will all turn into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Dead, brown, crunchy grass. Trees cracking under the 110 degree heat. Sidewalks will be barren – empty of family dog walks and joggers (the sane ones, anyway). Everyone will take shelter in their homes with the AC on 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and everyday the natives will say to one another “Can you believe how hot it is out there?”, because we treat each summer like a traumatic event and force the memories to a dark, deep place inside ourselves so we forget it and are surprised anew each June.
But for now, it’s a gorgeous place to be. And these tacos are gorgeous thing to see and taste.
They capture the essence of this I-need-to-be-outside-I-don’t-care-if-I-have-a-desk-job kind of weather. The salmon is fresh, light, and guilt-free, grilled to a simple crisp with enough spices patted on the outside to make your nose water and keep you coming back for more. The mango pico is chunky and hearty, making it impossible to let a single of its flavors slip by unnoticed. The sweet syrup of the mango adds a balancing coolness to the spice in the rest of the dish. If you’ve been opposed to fruit in savory dishes in the past (*raises hand in guilt), give this a try and let your outlook on the world be forever changed.
Toss it all in a lightly grilled fresh corn tortilla, and eat it outside in the sunshine. Without that, you might as well be eating from Taco Bell.
That was a dramatization. These are still delicious eaten indoors, but they certainly were enjoyed immensely by us in the sunshine on our porch with the two furry ones at our feet.
It all comes together remarkably fast and makes for an easy, healthy, above average weeknight meal. Should you be a little wary of spice, cut back on the cayenne a bit and maybe halve the amount of chili powder, but I encourage you to embrace the shock of heat for your taste buds. It’s a wild ride.
What dish is your ode to sunshine and impending summer? With only a few weeks left before I’m longing for October, I’m all ears!
Blackened Salmon Tacos with Mango Pico
- 2 8 oz boneless fillets of salmon
- Corn tortillas
For the rub
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the pico
- 3/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
- 1/2 seeded jalapeno diced (discard seeds if you don't like heat)
- 2 tablespoons white onion diced
- 1/2 cup mango diced
- Juice of half a lime
- Mix all of the spices together in a bowl. On a plate, pat the mixture over all sides of the two salmon fillets.
- In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once heated, place both fillets of salmon in. Cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes, or until it reaches your desired doneness.
- For the pico, mix all of the required ingredients together. Add a sprinkling of salt.
- With two forks, shred the salmon in a separate dish.
- Heat the corn tortillas through. Add about 1/3 cup of the blackened salmon, and top with the mango pico.