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Cool Recipe Alert: Ancho salmon with yellow mole

Looking ahead to spring, the culinary team at the University of Montana has this spicy salmon recipe cued up to debut on Ash Wednesday (which falls March 1 this year), the start of the Catholic season of Lent. This is seafood special’s time to shine as Catholics abstain from meat. By using salmon from Alaska and an arsenal of bold Latin flavors, Executive Sous Chef Tony Martinez has created a seafood dish that stands out.

“The clean, rich flavor of Alaska salmon and the smoky spice of the ancho chili complement the brighter flavors of the yellow mole,” Martinez says.

Ancho Salmon with yellow mole

YIELD: 8 servings (3-ounce portions)

For spice blend:
3/4 oz. whole dried ancho chili
1 ½ tsp. cumin seed
1 ¾ tsp. fennel seed
1 Tbsp. + ½ tsp. coriander seed
1 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 5/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 1/3 Tbsps. + 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 1/3 Tbsp. + ¾ tsp. kosher salt
2 3/8 tsps. ground mustard

For mole:
1 3/8 tsps. olive oil
2 ¾ oz. yellow onion, cut into quarters, separated
5/8 tsp. garlic, peeled
1 ¼ oz. fresh fennel, sliced ¾”
1/5 of cinnamon stick
dash of ground allspice, to taste
pinch of fresh epazote, to taste
1 3/8 tsp. granulated beet sugar
1 ½ oz. water
5 ¾ oz. yellow bell pepper
1 1/3 Tbsp. + ¼ tsp. tomatillo, crushed
1 5/8 tsp. lime juice
5/8 tsps. kosher salt

For salmon:
8 (3-oz.) salmon filets
3 1/3 Tbsp. + ½ tsp. safflower oil

1. For spice blend: Toast anchos, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds on sheet pan until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.
2. In spice grinder, combine toasted spices with pepper, thyme and oregano. Grind to coarse powder. Stir in salt and mustard.
3. For mole: Heat oil in rondeau over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
4. Add fennel, cinnamon, allspice, epazote, sugar and water. Bring to simmer and add peppers.
5. Cover rondeau and simmer over low heat until peppers are soft; about 25 minutes.
6. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Transfer mixture to blender and puree with tomatillos until very smooth.
7. Strain through chinois then taste and season with lime juice and salt. Cover, label and reserve.
8. For salmon: Preheat oven to 350°F. Preheat griddle to 375°F. While griddle preheats, lightly coat salmon filets with spice blend.
9. Heat mole and hold hot.
10. Brown salmon on griddle using oil. Place salmon onto pan and transfer to oven until internal temperature reaches 145°F. Ladle 1 oz. of mole over each filet, cover with plastic wrap and place in warmer for service. 

Photo and recipe: University of Montana Dining/Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

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