I have to start this post with an apology. I didn’t anticipate taking pictures or posting this recipe for a blackened salmon grilled cheese, but this was one of those “happy accident” moments. About a month ago Miles boycotted salmon because he found a bone twice in his fillet. While this is valid, it severely limited my seafood options. He would still eat salmon croquettes, but I can’t keep serving fried foods. I tried baking them, but they weren’t the same.
When we went to the market the other day, I just bought two sockeye salmon filets and asked him to give it another shot. He agreed and I began to think about how to serve it. I instantly thought of grilled cheese. I made a crab cake grilled cheese, so why not salmon? But how to prepare the salmon? I needed to have the right texture and it needed to be flavorful enough for a sandwich. I know he likes his seasoning simple, so I thought about making it the same way I would make crab cakes. Old Bay. Now that I’ve lived in the DMV area for a few years, I’ve finally accepted that these people put Old Bay on any and everything!
The salmon cooked in minutes, and I tried my best to make sure that the outside had a little crust to it while staying moist. I peeled off the skin, flaked it onto the bread and tossed it into my Panini maker. Yes, I’m still calling this a grilled cheese even though I made it in my Panini maker. I didn’t flatten it, and this also allowed me to leave the kitchen for a few minutes to change out of my work clothes!
I was pleasantly surprised that this was a success! I was very skeptical, but you can almost never go wrong with grilled cheese. I think adding a thin layer of Dijon mustard helped also. And Miles even liked it although he said that he preferred crab. He said this while scarfing down this sandwich. I think he really liked it.
Blackened Salmon Grilled Cheese
- 2 4 ounce Alaskan sockeye salmon fillets , with skin on
- 1 ½ teaspoons dark brown sugar (light is fine too)
- 1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 4-5 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 sliced sourdough bread (or your favorite artisan bread)
- 4 ounces gruyere , sliced
- dijon mustard , optional
- butter , for the sandwiches
Combine the brown sugar and old bay in a small bowl. Lightly brush the salmon fillets with oil and rub the seasoning mixture evenly over both.
Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. When the oil begins to smoke quite heavily shut the heat off under the pan. Add the salmon, 1 at a time, in a single layer, flesh side down, in the oil. Turn the heat back on under the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the salmon to the other side. Cook the salmon over medium heat, until the skin becomes crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the fillet and flake on a small plate.
Heat the Panini maker according to instructions, or use a griddle pan on medium heat. Spread a thin layer butter on the outside of the bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices. Place two slices of bread, butter side down on the pan. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on the bread and top with a layer of cheese, then flaked salmon, another layer of cheese then the other slice of bread. Cook until heated through and the cheese is fully melted, flipping once.