Brown Sugar Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema

With 2 of my 3 final projects under my belt, I figured a great way to relax and unwind would be to try a more challenging recipe. I’ve seen this recipe pop up on Pinterest a number of times from the “Can You Stay for Dinner” blog. The food photography on this site is absolutely incredible, and the recipes sound good too!

I’ve never cooked salmon before, which explains why this recipe was challenging for me. Turns out, it was fairly easy! Though you can ask my roommate Katherine… There were some crispy pieces of salmon she ate out of love. That would be my word of warning for the dish: Be careful not to burn it! Caramelized is one thing… burnt is another (blech!) That and make sure the avocados you use are ready to use. Mine could have used a few more days, and so I found myself wrestling with blender to get a smooth consistency out of it.

Brown Sugar Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema: Serves 4

Ingredients for the Avocado Crema:

  • ½ avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about the juice of 1 lime)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, stemmed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the Salmon:
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 4 5-ounce salmon filets
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced into rounds


  • In a blender or food processor, combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, garlic, parsley, and salt, and pulse until smooth. The consistency should be similar to cake batter–thick yet spreadable. To thin it if necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water and pulse to incorporate. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. The crema can be made up to 1 day in advance if covered and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and the cayenne pepper. Lay the salmon on a work surface and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over each filet, rubbing it into the flesh on all sides.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Add 2 of the salmon filets (skin-side-up if they have skin on) and cook, undisturbed, until the underside is crisp and just beginning to blacken, about 4 minutes. Flip the filets and cook an additional 4 minutes, until the fish feels firm to the touch. Remove to a plate immediately.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the remaining 2 filets of salmon and repeat the cooking process.
  • Once all of the salmon is cooked and transferred to a plate, add the lime slices to the now-empty pan and cook just until they begin to caramelize, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • To serve, divide the salmon filets among four plates and spoon 2 generous tablespoons of crema over each. Press a caramelized lime slice into the crema to garnish.

Katherine gave it her stamp of approval, and I do too! I’m pretty proud I pulled this off, and it’s healthy too! According to the original website, each serving is about 340 calories. Not bad, not bad at all!!

Sigh, if only finals week was as fun as cooking… back to work I go. Have a great weekend, and happy eating!

4 thoughts on “Brown Sugar Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema

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