Coffee and spice rubbed salmon tacos

April 20, 2011
Author Notes

This rub is usually one we use on steak around here, but we had a ton of salmon from a recent splurge at the fish market so I decided to try it out on salmon fillets. As I was thinking about what I wanted to serve the salmon with, fish tacos flitted into my mind. So, I ran with it. The salmon is a hearty, sturdy enough fish to stand up to the deep, strong flavors of the coffee and spices in the rub. And, the rest of the accoutrements liven things up with lots of bright and tangy flavors. —fiveandspice

  • Serves 4-6
  • Spice rubbed salmon tacos
  • 2 pounds of salmon fillets, skin on, center cut, about an inch thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground coffee
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 small tortillas, corn or flour - your preference
  • red cabbage mix - see below
  • avocado-tomatillo salsa - see below
  • Accoutrements
  • 2 tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed (unless you want some extra heat) and diced
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 lime, juiced, divided
  • 1 ripe haas avocado
  • 5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • sea salt
In This Recipe
  1. Spice rubbed salmon tacos
  2. Pat your salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix together all of the the seasonings (coffee through black pepper). Then, stir in the olive oil. Use a brush to brush this spice mixture all over the tops of the salmon fillets.
  3. Grill the salmon fillets skin side down on a well oiled hot grill and cook just until it flakes easily with a fork (the timing will depend a lot on your particular cuts of fish, mine took about 8 minutes). Alternatively, you can broil the salmon just until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the heat.
  4. Use a spatula to lift the salmon pieces off of their skins and onto a serving platter. Break them into chunks.
  5. Quickly warm your tortillas. Then, serve the salmon in the tortillas topped with the avocado salsa and cabbage. (It's easiest to just let everyone assemble their own.) Just add some cervezas or margaritas and dinner is complete!
  1. Accoutrements
  2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the tomatillos. Simmer about 3 minutes - they'll turn sort of olive green. Remove from the water and allow to cool for a little bit. Then, chop them up.
  3. In a food processor, process together the tomatillo, onion, jalapeno, 1 Tbs. cilantro, and half of the lime juice, until fairly smooth. Then, pulse in the avocado - you can process it in until you have a smooth sauce or leave it a little chunky, depending on your preference. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
  4. Toss together the sliced red cabbage with the remaining lime juice and cilantro. Sprinkle with a little salt (1/4 tsp. or so) and mix well.
  5. Serve the avocado-tomatillo salsa and the cabbage to accompany the fish in the tacos.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.