Blackened Salmon Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Growing up in Southern California, my version of comfort food is anything Mexican.  Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, you name it.  Basically anything topped with salsa and avocado hits the spot.  If I find myself lost and looking for inspiration in the kitchen, I generally end up reaching for some beans, spices and cheese.  Of course, there is so much more to Mexican food than heavy, beef and cheese laden meals packed with a million calories.

salmon tacos

These blackened salmon tacos are light enough for summer, simple enough to whip up after a busy day and delicious enough to impress even the most critical dinner guests.  Chunks of tender, spiced salmon folded into warm tortillas, topped with lime crema and a salsa made from avocados and mangos.  It sounds too fancy to be able to whip up in a half an hour, right?  Wrong!  This gourmet quality dinner can be on your table in no time at all.

salsa ingredients

The key to whipping up this dinner in less than a half an hour is simply having all the ingredients on hand.  The crema (white sauce) is nothing more than mixing lime zest and juice with sour cream.  As long as you have sour cream, limes and salt, you are set.  The same goes for the salsa.  Ripe avocado, mango, lime juice, shallot and salt.  Throw it all together in a bowl and you are done!  The most “labor intensive” part of this dinner is cooking the salmon.

avocado mango salsa

“Blackened” is basically a fancy term for cooking something with a heavy spice rub on it.  You can make blackened chicken, blackened fish, blackened pork.  It sounds intimidating but it’s really very simple.  I’ve included my favorite Mexican spice mix recipe below.  This is a great stable to keep around.  I use it for taco meat, steaks and fish interchangeably.  You can whip up a big batch and keep it pre-mixed in your spice rack or just mix it up as you need it.  If you are afraid of it being too spicy, feel free to use less of the cayenne pepper (that’s what gives the spice rub the majority of its heat).

mexican spice mix

Since this is blackened salmon, don’t be afraid of getting the outside of the salmon nice and dark.  The spice rub forms a nice little crust on the salmon as it is cooking.  Just be sure to use a nonstick pan when cooking the salmon!  You don’t want the spices sticking to the pan instead of the fish.  Once the salmon is done, just flake off big chunks to throw into the tortillas.  Top with your crema, salsa and enjoy!

blackened salmon tacos


Blackened Salmon Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

Yield: 6-8 tacos


2 salmon fillets (6-8 oz)

Mexican Spice Mix
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil, for brushing salmon
Soft taco sized tortillas (corn or whole wheat)

Lime Crema
1/2 cup sour cream
Zest and juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Avocado Mango Salsa
1 large avocado, diced
1 mango, diced
1 shallot, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt (to taste)


- Combine all spices in a small bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush salmon lightly with olive oil. Cover salmon generously with the spice mix and pat spices down into the olive oil. Once pan is hot, place salmon in the pan, skin side up. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. Remove from pan.
- In the meantime, make the salsa and the lime crema. For the crema, combine the sour cream, lime zest, lime juice and salt. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until using.
- In a separate bowl, combine the diced avocado, mango, shallots, lime juice and salt. Stir to combine. Make salsa just before serving to avoid browning of the avocado.
- Once salmon is cooked, assemble tacos. Place chunks of salmon (removed from the skin) on warm tortillas. Top with crema and salsa. Devour!

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11 Responses to “Blackened Salmon Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa”

  1. 1
    Michelle — August 19, 2011 3:48 pm

    Here in NJ we’re sorely lacking good Mexican food. I had tacos in San Francisco that blew my mind – not sure why no one’s been able to replicate that on the East Coast! But your version looks fantastic and perfect for this warm summer weather. Thanks for posting.

  2. 2
    Matt — August 19, 2011 10:55 pm

    Tasty and light! Love it!

  3. 3
    Pam — August 20, 2011 12:51 pm

    In the true sense of the word blackened,it definitely did not originate with a spice rub. It originated when fish, poultry and other ingredients were cooked in a very hot frypan until they were almost or sometimes all black. This technique came mainly from the south. Paul Prudhomme had a great deal to do with publicizing this technique. You would never blacken anything in a nonstick frypan because it wouldn’t withstand the heat.

    • kate replied: — August 20th, 2011 1:52 pm

      Michelle — I know exactly what you mean! I’m in NYC now and good quality Mexican food is few and far between. I find myself cooking it at home more often than not.

      Pam — Good to know! Thanks for the info! I guess this qualifies as a California girl’s take on a lightened up blackening technique.

  4. 4
    Baltic Maid — August 20, 2011 2:51 pm

    This looks so appetizing! I have to get myself some salmon now and try this. Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. 5
    Tres Delicious — August 21, 2011 10:16 am

    I love the avocado and mango combination here. That salsa looks promising.

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  8. 6
    Randolph — August 24, 2011 7:36 pm

    That looks amazing. cruising the internet looking for something to make for dinner. It will be this!

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  10. 7
    Manuela Orban — August 29, 2012 3:32 am

    Absolutely LOVED this recipe, as did my hubby!!! The one thing I may change tomorrow when I make it again ;P is to bake the salmon instead of frying it. Another recipe suggested baking it at 350 degrees for approx. 15 min. Thanks so much for this awesome and easy to make dish!!

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