This Alaska sockeye salmon recipe with creamy poblano sauce and mango salsa is perfect for lunch or your next dinner party. Photo by Andrew Maxwell.

Whether the freezer is stocked full of moose, caribou, goat, salmon, or all of the above, Alaskans know how to prepare for the coming winter. Some old sourdoughs have their own “special remedies” for fighting the shivers, and others stockpile firewood or simply turn up the heat, but sometimes keeping warm is just a frame of mind. Warm up your kitchen this winter with this Southwest inspired dish using sockeye salmon from the Cook Inlet.

This recipe is perfect for lunch but can just as easily be the star of your next dinner party, and since both the sauce and the salsa can be prepared ahead of time you can be ready in a snap. You can even get creative and make it your own by adding toasted pepitas or swapping peaches for mangoes in the salsa. If salmon isn’t your thing, the sauce and salsa will taste great with chicken, pork or halibut. Enjoy your journey North by Southwest.

Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Creamy Poblano Sauce and Mango Salsa

Photo by Andrew Maxwell.

Making the salsa

2 ripe mangoes, diced

½ red onion, diced

3 Roma tomatoes, diced with seeds removed

1 small Serrano chili, finely minced with seeds removed

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

juice of one lime

small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Before peeling the mangoes, halve them from the pit. With your knife, carefully cut a grid pattern into the flesh of the mango being careful not to cut through the peel. Once a grid has been cut, push on the peel to turn the fruit “inside out” this should make it easier to cut away the flesh in cubes. Perfect for salsa! Now that your mangoes are diced, toss them in a bowl and simply fold in the remaining ingredients. Feel free to use a spicier or milder chili based on your preference.

The perfectly plated dish from above
Photo by Andrew Maxwell.

Roasted Poblano Cream Sauce

2 Poblano peppers

½ white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups whole cream

salt and pepper to taste

Roast the Poblanos over the fire from your gas stove (if you do not have a gas stove, farmers markets are great places to find a variety of fire roasted chilis). Turning the peppers with tongs, you are looking to char every surface of the pepper’s skin. Once the skin is charred and blistered place the peppers in a bowl or container and cover with a lid or aluminum foil, this will allow the peppers to sweat and allow us to peel the skin much easier. After ten minutes or so, take a butter knife and gently scrape the charred skin away from the pepper, it’s ok if there are a few black pieces. Once the peppers are peeled they can be seeded and diced.

In the meantime, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in a skillet add onions with salt and saute until translucent; add garlic, cumin, black pepper, diced Poblanos and cook about two minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan and reduce by half, then add cream and reduce by half. Strain sauce through a colander or sieve and it’s ready to serve. Can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator up to one week.

The salmon

4 salmon filets (6-8oz each), boned and skinned

high heat oil, like sunflower or coconut

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over high heat. In the meantime, simply bone and skin salmon, dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Once the skillet begins to slightly smoke add a tablespoon of oil and coat the pan. Place salmon, would-be skin side up, into the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until a hard sear is obtained then flip and finish on the bottom for another 4-5 minutes until desired doneness is reached.

Arrange your dish however you prefer, but I like to dress the plate with the Creamy Roasted Poblano Sauce and place your perfectly seared salmon in the middle with the sweet and spicy Mango Salsa piled high.


Andrew Maxwell is the chef at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. Email Andrew at [email protected]

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