Brown Sugar and Chile-Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Heat Scale
Submit Recipe

Serves 4.


Avocado Crema:
1/2 avocado peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder*
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 salmon filets 5 ounces each
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lime thinly sliced into rounds

*To make ancho chile powder, grind dried chile in a coffee or spice grinder till a fine powder.


Avocado Crema
In a food processor, combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, garlic, parsley, and salt, and pulse until smooth. The consistency should be similar to sour cream – thick yet spreadable. To thin it, add a tablespoon or two of water and pulse to incorporate.
Cover and set aside until ready to serve. The crema will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 day.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Lay the salmon filets on a clean work surface and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over each filet, rubbing it into the flesh on all sides.
In a 12-inch non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add 2 of the salmon filets (skin side up, if they have skin on) and cook, undisturbed, until their undersides are crisp and just beginning to blacken, about 4 minutes.
Flip the filets and cook until the fish feels firm to the touch, 4 minutes more. Transfer to a warm plate. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining 2 filets of salmon. Set the salmon aside.
Add the lime juices to the skillet and cook just until they begin to caramelize, about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
To serve, divide the salmon filets among 4 plates and spoon 2 tablespoons of cream over each. Press a caramelized lime slice into the crema to garnish and serve.

Slightly adapted from a recipe from