This recipe will show you how to make the absolute best Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad you've ever had in your life. It combines the buttery nature of salmon with a complex, spicy seasoning, bright and acidic lemon notes, and crunchy little bits of fried panko breadcrumbs. Let's just say it's fan-freaking-fantastic. Restaurant quality. The Salmon Caesar to end all Salmon Caesars.
Spring is an excellent time to welcome back brighter seafood-based dishes we forgot about all winter. The Blackened Salmon Caesar's buttery texture and complex crusty seasoning make it comforting, while a bed of romaine and lemon make it refreshing and nutrient-dense. You'll love these colors too!
This recipe is similar in some ways to another recipe on this site, Salmon and Creme Fraiche Pasta, which also uses bright acidic notes to balance out the butteriness of salmon.
There are three main components of this Blackened Salmon Caesar Recipe. And you probably already have most of the pantry ingredients needed to make it.
- The Blackened Salmon
- 4 Salmon Filets
- Black Pepper
- Dried Parsley
- Ground Coffee
- Cayenne Pepper
- The Caesar Dressing
- Anchovy Filets
- Lemon juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese
- An egg yolk
- Olive Oil
- The Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Olive oil or butter
- Romaine Lettuce
- Lemon wedges
Adding coffee to any blackening mixture helps to make it black in color and round out the flavor of the seasoning. It doesn't taste like coffee per se, rather a well-balanced blackening seasoning that's not overly peppery. See recipe card for quantities.
This recipe has an "intermediate" difficulty level because it calls for 3 separate components, one of which is to make a mayonnaise from scratch (the Caesar dressing), and the other is to pan-sear salmon (something that intimidates people, but is actually simple). Don't be intimidated by these slight challenges! Embrace them! The end result will reward you.
- First, cut the lettuce, divide it among 4 bowls, and set it aside.
- Second, make the caesar dressing. Mash the anchovies, garlic, and salt in a Mortar and Pestle (you can use a food processor if you prefer). Then whisk in the egg yolk, mustard, lemon and pecorino, and slowly stream in the oil while you whisk.
- Next, make the blackened seasoning mixture and coat the salmon filets in the mixture.
- Sear the salmon in a cast iron skillet for about 4 minutes on each side.
- Make the toasted Panko breadcrumbs. You can use the same skillet that just cooked the salmon, or use a smaller non-stick skillet that's lighter and easier to handle.
- Top each salad with dressing, breadcrumbs, and one salmon filet.
Hint: An instant read thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking meat and seafood! Plus it will make you a more independent and confident home cook. Get this one from Lavatools on Amazon, and play around with different temperatures until you find the one that best suits your preference. Eventually you'll get better at knowing how long different foods take to cook to your liking.
The following substitutions can help you make the recipe using what you have lying around, without changing the delicious nature of the salad.
- Lettuce - Though romaine is traditional, any lettuce will technically work for this Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad. One of my favorite lettuces is butter lettuce because it actually has a luxurious buttery texture. Or try a mix of both!
- Breadcrumbs - You can make your own by crumbling up stale bread. Then toast it in a little butter just like the recipe says to do to the Panko. Use gluten free breadcrumbs to make this whole recipe GF.
- Salmon Alternatives- feel free to make this Blackened Caesar Salad using other proteins such as a white fish, chicken, shrimp, steak, or even tofu. The blackened seasoning is great on all of these proteins.
- Anchovies- OK, I know a lot of people don't love the idea of anchovies, but they're known as the bacon of the sea for a reason. They make the dressing SO flavorful and make the caesar dressing everything it is. If you absolutely can't do it, you can try another umami-packed ingredient: capers. use about ½ tablespoon.
Halving the Recipe
It's important to note that if you want to make 2 salads instead of 4, halve everything except for the caesar dressing. It simply cant be halved because of the use of a whole egg yolk. You'll have some dressing leftover, which you can use on other salads and sandwiches.
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is great for intermediate chefs, people looking to take their skills to the next level. To do so, you might find yourself wanting to invest in just a couple really good, high quality tools.
- The first is a 13 inch Lodge Cast Iron Skillet to cook the salmon. Honestly, I don't understand how Lodge keeps its prices so low. I paid $40 for my amazing Lodge cast iron skillet 5 years ago and it's still going strong. You can buy it on Amazon using my affiliate link here.
- Next, is a beautiful Mortar and Pestle. I firmly believe that every intermediate and advanced home kitchen should have one. It's the old fashioned way of grinding spices, herbs, and alliums, and it makes some really excellent anchovy and garlic-based dressings. Pick one you love! They all basically work the same way.
Meal Prepping Blackened Salmon Caesar Salads
If you plan on making these salads to have for the week, I recommend storing the toasted breadcrumbs and caesar dressing separately from the lettuce and salmon. Doing so will keep the lettuce and breadcrumbs from becoming soggy.
Store breadcrumbs in an airtight container (after they've completely cooled so they don't steam and get soggy) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Store the dressing in the same fashion.
Whether you WFH or take your lunches to go, just assemble the salad the day of.
Don't overcook your salmon. Get that instant read thermometer!
For the Salmon
- 4 Salmon Filets
- 4 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground coffee
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for searing)
For the Dressing
- 2 anchovy fillets
- One large clove of garlic (or 2 small)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- The juice of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- one egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons or .6 oz of finely grated pecorino
- ⅓ cup of olive oil
For the Breadcrumbs
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tb butter
- 2 heads of Romaine lettuce, wilted leaves removed
- 4 Lemon wedges, for serving
- Cut 2 heads of Romaine Lettuce and divide the lettuce among 4 bowls.
- On a plate, combine the salt, pepper, ground coffee, parsley, cayenne, and paprika to make the blackening seasoning. Coat the salmon in the seasoning.
- Heat 2 Tb of olive oil a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and sear the salmon for about 4 minutes on each side. (timing will depend on thickness). Use a timer though, so you don't forget about it while doing other things.
- While the salmon is searing you can make the caesar dressing. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the anchovies, garlic and salt until a paste forms. Add the egg yolk, mustard, and parmesan and whisk to combine. Then add the lemon juice and whisk again. Finally, slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly until well combined. Divide among the 4 bowls of lettuce.
- When the salmon is done, remove filets from the skillet and place one filet atop each salad. Either use the same skillet or a small nonstick one to toast the Panko breadcrumbs. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet, add the breadcrumbs, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When breadcrumbs are a dark golden color, remove them from the heat and divide among bowls.
- Serve each salad with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!
Keywords: blackened salmon Caesar salad