The combination of salmon and grits is something I didn’t discover until I was well into my 20’s, and I am all the better for it. I tried it off of a friend’s plate a wedding reception and I don’t even remember what my own meal that night was anymore. Delicious!
This Blackened Salmon & Quick Cheddar Grits recipe is my favorite way to enjoy the classic pairing.
I don’t cook seafood often, and when I do it’s usually either fried fish or salmon cakes (patties, croquettes, whatever), using canned salmon. Working with fresh salmon a bit trickier, so here are some tips:
To prevent sticking, bring your salmon to room temp before cooking and preheat your pan, but not the oil. Drizzle in your oil just before you add the salmon.
I cook my salmon filets skin side down first because I like to eat it, so I want it to get that nice sear and get it super crispy at the beginning. If you’re going to remove the skin I don’t think it really matters.
Flip your salmon as soon as you see a white line form across the center of the filet (between the cooked flesh and raw side). It will only take a few more minutes on the opposite side. It should feel firm to the touch.
I filmed a quick tutorial for this Blackened Salmon & Quick Cheddar Grits recipe and it’s live on IGTV.
Salmon filets seasoned in cajun blackening spices, pan seared and served over creamy cheddar grits.
2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
2 4-5 oz boneless skinless salmon filets
2 tbsp cajun seasoning
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp lemon juice
Quick Cheddar Grits
1/2 C quick-cooking (5-minute) grits
2 C water
1/2 C whole milk (or half & half)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
1/2 C New York extra sharp white cheddar cheese
Quick Cheddar Grits
Add your water, milk, butter, and seasonings to a saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then whisk in grits.
Cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow grits to cook until tender to your liking, stirring occasionally. You may need to add more liquid. Cook your salmon while the grits are doing their thing.
When they’re tender and have reached your desired consistency, remove from heat and whisk in the cheese. Cover again until ready to serve. If that’s more than just a couple of minutes, whisk again before serving.
Rub one tablespoon of olive oil all over the salmon. Sprinkle generously with cajun seasoning, followed by smoked paprika.
Preheat a skillet over medium-high (pretty much just high) heat.
Drizzle in the remaining olive oil and immediately add salmon, skin side down if you plan to eat the skin. Cook about 5-7 minutes, or until a white line forms in the center, then flip with a spatula.
Allow the salmon to cook on the other side for a few more minutes until the fish is firm and the sides are opaque, no longer the bright coral pink they were before.
5-minute grits never take 5 minutes to cook in my kitchen — more like 10-15.