Cast Iron

Seared Salmon with Cinnamon and Chile Powder

January 13, 2010
18 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

This may be a simple recipe, but the flavors unite in an elegant and complex way. It's perfect for one because you can have it on the table in less than 10 minutes with almost no mess. —Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)

What You'll Need
  • 1 salmon fillet with skin attached, sized to suit your appetite
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil, enough to barely slick the skillet
  • 1 dash sesame oil
  1. Wash and completely pat dry the salmon fillet.
  2. In a small bowl mix chile powder, cinnamon, and the salt and pepper. Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of the salmon fillet. Heat canola oil and sesame oil in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Choose a skillet that is plenty big enough to avoid steaming the fish for the crispest possible skin.
  3. When the skillet is very hot, but not yet smoking, add the salmon, skin-side down. Cook it until the skin is very crisp, dark brown and releases easily from the skillet This should take 3 to 4 minutes. Do not be tempted to check or move the fish around in the skillet during this time. You will only succeed in making it stick to the skillet or worse ruin your beautifully crisp skin.
  4. You will notice that the fish gets lighter colored and more opaque. Do not let it cook more than about 1/4 of the way through at this point. You might be worried that the rest of the fish seems raw, but honestly this is a good thing. Once the skin has crisped flip the fish, and cook it an additional 2 (maybe 3) minutes more. Do not let it cook all the way through. The fish will continue to cook after it leaves the pan. Your goal is a succulent flesh graduating from a rare center outwards to a crispy crackly skin.
  5. Serve the fish warm or at room temperature with a slightly chilled Pinot Noir (yes, Pinot Noir... trust me). Dining alone is no excuse for a poor wine pairing.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • K.V.
  • debplusthree
  • Danielle M. Young
    Danielle M. Young
  • Diane
  • Sam Rod
    Sam Rod

26 Reviews

K.V. November 9, 2021
I've made this many times, partly because it's simple and partly because it's tasty. I think this recipes proves that you don't need a lot of ingredients—or something complicated—in order for food to taste delicious. Many thanks, Greg!
Susan October 14, 2021
Made it for friends last night and they raved about it... "best salmon I've ever had!" . I cooked it a tad longer (1-2 min) as the pieces were large and I don't like soft pink in the middle of salmon. Came out perfectly. Served it with basmati rice and peas. Highly recommend.
Donna J. February 27, 2021
This is a great recipe. The salmon was perfect after a little rest from the skillet, and my second filet was pretty nice served at a coolish room temperature the next day for lunch. I added some of the leftover cinnamon & cayenne spice to the roasted sweet potatoes I made to accompany the salmon and that worked well for me.
debplusthree February 3, 2021
WOW!! That was an outstanding recipe, thank you so much!! Phenomenal, but not overpowering flavor, crispy skin and crispy top, perfect inside! Thank you so much for sharing this!!
Katie D. October 27, 2020
This is some of the best salmon I have ever cooked (followed the recipe exactly). Before I even finished dinner, I had texted 5 people that they should try this recipe. The spice combination was divine (so warm!) and crisped the salmon up beautifully on BOTH sides! This will be on my dinner table often.
Katie D. October 27, 2020
This is some of the best salmon I have ever cooked (followed the recipe exactly). Before I even finished dinner, I had texted 5 people that they should try this recipe. The spice combination was divine (so warm!) and crisped the salmon up beautifully on BOTH sides! This will be on my dinner table often.
ellenspirer September 22, 2020
I thought this was pretty tasty for such a fast recipe. I have a hack that I adore for salmon....put the salmon flesh side down in a COLD non-stick pan. Turn on the pan and let it cook a good while on that side, until it will lift easily and is nicely crusted on top. Then flip and cook skin side down until done. You don't need any oil in the pan. Because this recipe has a dry rub I did put a touch of oil in the pan but without the rub, this method makes terrific salmon with no added fat.
Danielle M. July 23, 2020
Really quick and easy with good flavor payoff. I paired with a green salad and tart tahini dressing. Definitely will add this to my repertoire.
bradleysuk March 5, 2020
Try this recipe too..
you will love it.
Diane January 7, 2020
I really like this salmon so I just had to make this recipe and it was hands down delicious. I followed it exactly as written and cooked the fish 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. I removed the pan from the heat, placed the salmon in a dish and let it cool for a few minutes. Seriously, it was amazing! The spices did remind me a little of Chinese 5 spice powder but not as overpowering. I never thought that cinnamon and chili would work with salmon but they did. A little chilled Pinot Noir and it was perfection!
Julie H. February 26, 2018
Really delicious. I'm a fish novice, so looked up some tips on salmon: brought it to room temperature 15 minutes before it hit the pan, heated pan over medium heat, and added oil once the pan was hot. Super simple and perfect as written. Thank you!
Laura April 16, 2017
what would you serve this with?
Suzanne B. April 17, 2017
I served this with Basmati rice. I think a roasted asparagus would also be wonderful.
okaykate February 23, 2017
This sounds amazing! What sort of chile powder have you all had such success with for this dish? I
Suzanne H. February 24, 2017
I used cayenne and the combination of the cinnamon and cayenne gave amazing flavor to the salmon. I would suggest that you adjust the amount of cayenne to your recipients tastes. I like spice, but my roommate is just beginning to acquire a taste for it.
melissa February 8, 2017
want to confirm the superiority of this recipe. i actually made a big batch of this rub and keep it in a cleaned spice jar so i can fix this up whenever i want!
Nanners June 12, 2016
I cooked this recipe on charcoal barbeque, absolutely fantastic!
Suzanne B. May 24, 2016
I was a bit skeptical about this--------cinnamon and chili? But I made the salmon this way and it was amazing. Sometimes you just have to trust that a combination will work and this definitely does.
Sam R. November 5, 2014
This recipe was golden!!! The cinnamon was perfect with the chili!! Will definitely make it again! Thanks
Summer O. November 8, 2013
I have made this 3x this month. And sometimes I substitute Chinese 5 spice for the cinnamon and sometimes I sub cayenne for the chili powder. Anyway you slice it it's a solid recipe. Really tasty, easy for a weeknight. I have found that it does require another minute or so for thicker steaks and that's cooking to rare. Anyhow, I'm glad to have this in my repertoire.
Lora November 3, 2013
I'm always afraid to cook salmon but this recipe was so easy and delicious. I made it on the fly one busy week night for my teen boys and they loved it.
cygnoir April 18, 2012
What a great recipe! Very simple and incredibly tasty. Thanks for sharing.