Amazing Everyday Salmon Spice Rub Recipe – One from the Vault

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Happy day after Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is my long-term love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day that caused me to ignore the day itself, but allow me to acknowledge it a day after. Having spent many a Valentine’s Day solo, I learned to downplay, even ignore it, long ago. And once Hubs came around (pre-Hubs moniker days), I was certainly pleased to have someone special to share the day with, but I still couldn’t get overly excited about it. After all, it’s the day-to-day that matters in life, right? So, Hubs and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition – select and prepare a menu together at home. No posh restaurant, no flowers (I wouldn’t turn them down, mind you), but a shared experience, maybe with some candlelight and a bottle of good wine. It has suited us just fine, and we have adapted over the years, too.

While I was researching our menu, I took a peak into the vault and decided to repeat a previous hit.  Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon: it’s a great recipe from either our first or second Valentine’s Day menu. And I love that I found it handwritten on paper, old school style. In fact, this recipe is so simple, I am amazed we thought this was a special occasion dish (guess I cooked a lot less back then than I do now). So, in honoring the love of the everyday, I am sharing this recipe with you now, post-holiday. Try it and let me know what you think

Spice-Rubbed Seared Salmon

  • 1 Tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each) with skin intact
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat fry pan on medium heat. Add spices and toast 2-3 minutes. Grind spices in spice mill, or use mortar and pestle. Pour into small bowl and add brown sugar and kosher salt to make the rub. Place salmon on a plate and press rub into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan and add olive oil. Heat until smoking, then place salmon skin side down on pan and sear for 4-5 minutes depending on thickness of fillet. Flip salmon gently using tongs (keep skin intact), and place pan in oven. Cook 4-6 minutes until cooked through.

Please don’t wait til next Valentine’s Day to try this!

Let the Odyssey Begin: Home Pickling

With a bounty of Kirby cucumbers, what can you do but pickle?

All I can say is, it’s good to have a partner in this endeavor. And I was fortunate to have two: Hubs and my Cuisinart. No, Hubs is not in same category as Cuisinart, but you know what I mean. I had never made pickles before, so this was an adventure indeed. We decided on Bread & Butter Pickles for a few reasons:

  1. Hubs loves them
  2.  Can be made “refrigerator-style,” like Dan’s awesome pickled string beans. No need for serious canning experience, of which I have none
  3. Good value! We’ve been buying jars of these at the green market for $6 or $7

Truth be told, Hubs has got me hooked on these Bread & Butter Pickles, too. I am used to traditional sour dill pickles (maybe even a half-sour), which are the kind I grew up on.

We’d go downtown to the Lower East Side with my grandmother and buy them out of the barrel at Gus’s, back when the LES was still populated by discount merchants and Jewish delicatessens, not hipsters and cocktail bars.

Here’s what we did: We worked off of 2 recipes we found online: borrowing ingredients from Smitten Kitchen’s blog and  and technique from an old-school recipe on  A Way to Garden. I liked the fact that Smitten Kitchen used about 1/2 the sugar used in the old-school recipe. And, skipping to the chase, you would never know. These pickles are sweet and succulent at the same time; you’d never think they needed more sugar.


4 pounds cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
4 bell peppers sliced lengthwise [ok to omit if you don’t have them on hand]
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1cup Diamond Kosher salt [Updated: Why Diamond? Read this first.]
2 cups sugar (1/2 cup per pound of cucumbers)
1 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar [Original recipe calls for less, but we were low on liquid, so I’d recommend more]
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 tablespoon mustard seeds
4 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon celery seed


Use Cuisinart or mandoline to slice cucumbers and onions. It is definitely a time saver and worth the extra time afterwards  to wash all the piece parts of the equipment.

In a very large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peppers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a large pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring back to a boil.

Pickles in the pot: kirbies transformed in 5 minutes to pickle green color

Simmer for 5 minutes, then ladle them (with the liquid) into clean jars. Be careful as you are ladling boiling hot liquid into the jars. Hubs was particularly helpful in this step. As the jars cool, you should hear the light “pop” of the seal vacuuming tight. Once cooled, keep them in the fridge. They will keep quite well for six months or so.

Bread & Butter Pickles ready to go

Yield: 14 1/2 pint jars. Of course, I mis-placed a lid from one of the Ball glass jars at the end of the process and had to use an old jam container. Ah well.