Wild Salmon, Tortillas, and Avocado Crema

Weekday taco party with Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon

A slow-baked fish is an impressive presentation, but secretly it’s every professional chef’s lazy weeknight dinner party. There’s not much to it beyond buying the freshest catch at the market, applying an aromatic marinade, and roasting in the oven over a bed of thinly sliced zucchini, onions, lemons, and fresh rosemary. For your taco party, set out your warm platter of slow-roasted salmon and roasted vegetables alongside some warm handmade tortillas from your local market, a bowl of rich avocado crema, and a crunchy pepper salad. You have created an impressive taco party in just about an hour! Uncork the Lyndenhurst and pour it all around while your guests build their own tacos.

Serves 8

For the Salmon:

  • A side of wild Pacific salmon, about 3½ pounds 
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 zested lemon, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons picked rosemary leaves 
  • Kosher salt
  • 20 small corn or flour tortillas, warmed in the oven or on the grill 

For the Marinade:

  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoon ground coriander 
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne, to your taste 
  • Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary 
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane (or finely minced)

For the Sweet Pepper Salad:

  • 1 lb. sweet peppers, de-seeded and julienned 
  • ½ small head of cabbage, sliced very thin
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin  
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped 
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Kosher salt

For the Avocado Crema:

  • 4-5 ripe avocados, pits and skin removed
  • ¼ cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper 
  1. Have the fishmonger remove the salmon’s pin bones, and the skin if you wish. 
  2. Bring the salmon up to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 300°F. Season it with kosher salt. 
  3. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pour ⅔ of the marinade on the fish and spread it on until the fish is well coated. 
  4. Toss the sliced onions, zucchini, lemon, and rosemary leaves with the remaining marinade and a hefty pinch of salt. Spread out the vegetable mix on a parchment-lined sheet tray. 
  5. Lay the salmon on top of the vegetables and bake for 15-20 minutes, just until juices appear on the surface. When poked with a fork at the head end of the filet, the salmon should be moist. It should be cooked through, but just barely so. If it’s not done to your taste, give it another five minutes. Let the tray rest on the stove for at least five minutes before serving. 
  6. For the avocado crema, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork until you like the consistency. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime juice if you like.
  7. For the pepper salad, macerate the sliced red onion in the red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt for five minutes. Then toss with the julienned peppers, sliced cabbage, and chopped parsley leaves along with a good glug of olive oil. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your taste. 
  8. To serve, set out a platter of warm tortillas, a bowl of avocado crema, the pepper salad, and your warm platter of slow-roasted salmon and roasted vegetables. Everyone can build their tacos as they like and enjoy with a glass of Lyndenhurst.

Gary Podesto is a cook at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California and is the Chief Culinary Collaborator for the Climate Farm School. His work aims to revitalize the ritual of gathering around the hearth and table while promoting the values of edible education and regenerative agriculture. Learn more at garypodesto.net.