Mexican Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce

Mexican Salmon in a Quick Green Mole Sauce (Pipián Verde) delivers the creamy, complex flavors of a traditional Pipián Verde in a matter of minutes with prepared tomatillo salsa and sesame tahini. This lighter mole is perfect with seafood, chicken, even grilled veggies for #meatlessMonday!

Mexican Salmon in Mole Verde (Pipian) in a black plate with cilantro rice and sliced heirloom tomatoes.

🌶 What is Mole Verde (Pipián Verde)?

In Mexico, a classic pipián is a simpler mole (fewer ingredients) thickened by nuts or seeds in combination with tomatillos, chiles, onion, and garlic. Since pre-Columbian times, Mexico’s native pumpkin seeds thickened the sauce, but you will find more variations in modern times – including but not limited to pepitas, sesame seeds, peanuts, and other nuts.

Where mole is an exuberant symphony orchestra, pipián is a lively string quartet.

~~ Rick Bayless in Mexican Everyday

I have often mentioned Rick Bayless’ influence on my cooking, and today’s recipe started with his Salmon in Luxurious Green Sesame Pipián. His recipe combines a good quality bottled tomatillo salsa with sesame tahini. The resulting sauce is really incredible, and it comes together in 10-15 minutes.

A cast iron skilled with Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce (Pipián Verde) with a wooden spoon.

🐟About Fish and Weeknight Dinners

When planning a weeknight “meals in minutes” dinner, I often look to fish and seafood, because almost without exception, they should not spend much time cooking. Protein-rich fish and seafood are widely available, even in landlocked locales, making them an excellent choice for a healthy lifestyle. Given our proximity to the Gulf, we eat fish or seafood several times per week!

Combining the mole verde (pipián verde) with fish, then, minimizes prep time, and maximizes flavor. I’d say that’s a win-win all around! I promise you’ll draw “oohs” and “ahhs” from your lucky recipients. 😋

📋 Mexican Style Salmon Ingredients

Mexican salmon ingredients including 2 salmon portions, cumin, garlic, tahini, petite peas, and tomatillo sauce.
  • salmon – I have also done this pipián sauce on sea bass and barramundi. Chose firm, meaty fish.
  • refined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • good quality salsa verde – My preference is to use my homemade salsa verde, but I don’t always have it. There are many good salsa verde available commercially, and they’re fine in this pipián sauce.
  • tahini – A traditional pipián sauce likely specifies toasted and ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Sesame tahini saves a couple of steps and yields a similar flavor and texture.
  • chicken broth
  • fresh or frozen peas
  • toasted sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, chopped scallion to garnish

🔪 Instructions

  1. Purée the salsa verde – Process/blend salsa verde until very smooth. Set aside.
  2. Cook the salmon – In a hot skillet with about half of the oil, sear the salmon portions, reduce heat, and cook through. Don’t overcook! Time varies according to thickness. Set salmon portions aside.
  3. Make the pipián verde – Add remaining oil to the pan over medium-high heat, then add garlic and cumin. Stir 1 minute, then pour in the puréed salsa verde. Stir until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes). Whisk in the tahini and broth. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas the last 5 minutes. Note: If using fresh peas, you may want to boil or steam for 3-4 minutes prior to adding to the sauce.
  4. Finish the dish – When the sauce is done, add the salmon portions back into the sauce, and spoon some of the fish. Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, scallions as desired.
A black plate with salmon in pipián sauce with peas, sliced tomatoes, cilantro rice with grey napkin and black flatware. A glass of rose in the background.

🍚 What to Serve with the fish???

We have served Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce ( Pipián Verde) a couple of ways: Cauliflower Rice, Mexican Red Rice or Mexican Cilantro Rice, and plain ole white basmati rice. In all honesty, I’d go SIMPLE! The pipián sauce is so yummy, you just need something to hold the sauce!

If you ask Mark Andersen, he will tell you: Just have something to soak up the sauce!

❓ FAQ

What kinds of fish can I use?

If salmon isn’t your preference, substitute your favorite firm fish. I don’t think sole would be a great substitute, but barramundi, halibut, sea bass, cod, tilapia, snapper would all work well.

How long should I cook my fish?

Fish cooking times vary according to thickness. For more on pan searing salmon, see Crispy Pan-Seared Salmon Fillets.

Is there a substitute for tahini?

Tahini is widely available. If you don’t like it or can’t find it, try substituting creamy peanut butter or almond butter.

What salsa should I use?

My preference for salsa verde when I have it is my homemade Roasted Tomatillo and Hatch Green Chile Salsa (Salsa Verde). There are many good commercial preparations including the brand in the photos and Frontera Foods Medium Tomatillo Salsa available on Amazon if you can’t find it locally. Locally, I love Central Market’s salsa verde. I look for one with both tomatillos and green chiles as they’re more balanced IMHO.

💭 Tips

There’s no need to thaw frozen peas before using. Rinse the peas in hot water in a colander before adding to the pipián sauce.

Fresh English peas are amazing in this Mexican-style fish recipe. They do take some time to cook. Par-cook the peas on the stove or in the microwave until barely tender before adding to the pipián sauce.

For more on cooking peas, see How to Cook Peas 4 Ways.

🥘 Recipe Variations

This sauce is gorgeous on fish, seafood, chicken, pork, and veggies. Don’t overlook serving the sauce with grilled chayote or Mexican grey squash. Try my favorite sustainable fish barramundi. Pound out a chicken breast to even thickness, and sauté it until cooked through. Be creative!

If (unlike me) you despise peas with a passion, try very thin-sliced parboiled potatoes or zucchini.

🌡️ Useful Stuff

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

If you love salmon, and want to include more of it in your healthy diet, check out these quick and easy salmon recipes:

In closing, I do love making an authentic mole sauce from start to finish, but it’s awesome to have a few tricks for quick, healthy, and delicious weeknight meals… You’ve got to try this Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce (Pipián Verde)!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

A black plate with salmon in mole verde sauce with peas, cilantro rice, sliced heirloom tomatoes with black flatware.

Mexican Salmon in Pipián Sauce

Salmon cooked in a creamy, zesty green sauce made with salsa verde, sesame tahini, and English peas. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice to sop up the delicious, creamy sauce!
5 from 7 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 servings
Calories 386 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces salmon - see Ingredients in post
  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup good quality salsa verde - see Ingredients in post
  • 2 tablespoons tahini - see Ingredients in post
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas - see Tips in post
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds - chopped cilantro, chopped scallion to garnish

Instructions

  • Purée the salsa verde – Process/blend salsa verde until very smooth. Set aside.
  • Cook the salmon – In a hot skillet with about half of the oil, sear the salmon portions, reduce heat, and cook through. Don’t overcook! Time varies according to thickness. Set salmon portions aside.
  • Make the pipián verde – Add remaining oil to the pan over medium-high heat, then add garlic and cumin. Stir 1 minute, then pour in the puréed salsa verde. Stir until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes). Whisk in the tahini and broth. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas the last 5 minutes. Note: If using fresh, you may want to boil or steam for 3-4 minutes prior to adding to the sauce.
  • Finish the dish – When the sauce is done, add the salmon portions back into the sauce, and spoon some of the fish. Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, scallions as desired.

Notes

Fish cooking times vary according to thickness. For more on pan searing salmon, see Crispy Pan-Seared Salmon Fillets.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 386kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 22g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

🐟 More Quick Salmon Recipes

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6 Comments

  1. I love Rick Bayless and his recipes have always worked for me! I don’t know how I missed this one, because it’s so easy and so delicious!

  2. This is exactly the kind of fish recipe I’ve been looking for and I wish I saw this kind of dish on Mexican restaurant menus. However, it’s suddenly getting much easier to find ingredients such as tomatillo salas around me (UK), so I’m looking forward to adding this to my dinner repertoire.

  3. I never would have thought to served salmon with a green mole or chile verde. You’ve convinced me otherwise. What a beautiful dish and right now I’m sitting trying to imagine the combination of flavors. YUM! Thanks for such a different and creative dish.