Skillet Salmon with Savory Tamarillo Sauce

This seared Skillet Salmon with Savory Tamarillo Sauce features the pulp of a somewhat obscure tropical fruit – tamarillo. It’s not like tomato; it’s firm, slightly sweet, somewhat acidic, and lovely in both sweet and savory applications. This salmon recipe relies on the widely available frozen tamarillo pulp. You may find it in your regular market in the freezer section, but more reliably, in your Latin foods market.

Skillet Salmon with Savory Tamarillo Sauce in a black cast iron skillet with red pot holders and striped cloth napkin.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Savory Tamarillo/Tree Tomato Recipes

This lovely, healthy, savory pan seared salmon recipe features frozen tamarillo pulp that is widely available in the US and elsewhere. If you are unfamiliar with tamarillo, you are certainly not alone. I first had tamarillo (aka sachatomate and tree tomato) in Peru. One focus for me as a food blogger is to bring Peruvian and Latin American ingredients to non-native home cooks. This is a wonderful ingredient!

If you’re comfortable with savory recipes that use citrus – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit – you will be comfortable with tamarillo. It is not as tart as lemon or lime… It tastes like a sweet tomato with a citrus-like tang. It reminds me a little of kiwi fruit. The tamarillo/tree tomato lends itself well to both sweet and savory applications!

A wood cutting board with 2 tamarillos/tree tomatoes and a chef knife.
Peeled and halved tamarillo/tree tomato fruit…

📋 Ingredients You’ll Need

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Ingredients for seared skillet salmon with tamarillo sauce: Salmon, shallots, garlic, tamarillo pulp, dry sherry, cornstarch, herbs.
  • salmon – On photo day, I had some really nice frozen sockeye salmon portions. I thawed them before starting the dish.
  • shallots – Substitute red onion (finely diced), sweet, or yellow onions.
  • garlic – I prefer freshly smashed and minced garlic, but I do often use minced garlic in a jar. I buy small jars that will be used quickly. The jarred garlic can get strong if it’s kept too long.
  • ají amarillo – Ají amarillo paste is available in the international foods aisle of some grocery stores. You can also order ají amarillo paste online. If you find fresh, frozen, or dried ají amarillo, you can make ají amarillo paste.
  • dry sherry – You can substitute dry white wine, marsala, or broth. Avoid anything sweet!
  • tamarillo pulp – I use Goya frozen tamarillo pulp. If you’re using fresh or frozen tamarillos, you’ll need to purée and strain them first.
  • cornstarch – I keep camote (sweet potato) flour in my pantry, and I’ll use it instead. However, cornstarch is more widely used, and works just as well!
  • fresh herbs – On photo day, I used cilantro and mint. Parsley, basil, and oregano are good options as well. Use a single herb, or a combination.

🔪 Seared Skillet Salmon Instructions

Sear the salmon.

2 skin on salmon fillets in a cast iron skillet.
  • Brush the surface of a heavy pan with canola or vegetable oil. NOTE: Cast iron is my preference for searing. Stainless steel is good too. Non-stick pans can’t handle the high heat. You want oil with a high smoke point. Place salmon portions flesh side down. Cook long enough to see opaque pink on the bottom (flesh side) of the salmon. This may take about 4-5 minutes. Look at the edge of the salmon to see if it’s ready to turn.
2 cooked salmon fillets skin side down in a cast iron skillet.
  • When you see about half of the thickness of the salmon is opaque, gently turn the salmon. Cook an addition 3-4 minutes to allow the skin to crisp. Remove, and cover to stay warm. NOTE: Don’t worry about the bits left in the skillet. They add to the flavor of the sauce!

Make the savory tamarillo pan sauce:

Sauté the aromatics for the salmon with tamarillo sauce - onion, garlic, and ají amarillo paste.
  • Sauté the aromatics – Add the shallot (or red onion) to the skillet. Sauté until the shallot begins to soften. Add the ají amarillo and garlic to the skillet. Stir to combine, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be careful to not burn the garlic!
De-glaze the salmon with tamarillo sauce with the dry sherry.
  • De-glaze the skillet – Add the dry sherry (or wine) to the skillet. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Scrape the browned salmon bits into the sherry mixture. This requires about 2 minutes.
Whisk together a slurry of cornsharch and tamarillo pulp.
  • Make the slurry – Add the tamarillo pulp and the cornstarch to a small bowl. Whisk to combine until smooth and incorporated.
Stir the slurry into the skillet until thickened.
  • Finish the savory tamarillo sauce – Whisk the slurry into the skillet until thoroughly combined. Bring to a low boil. Assess the thickness. Add broth or water as needed. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. NOTE: If your salmon has cooled, put it back in the pan, and spoon the sauce over it. Reduce heat until ready to serve.

Serve the seared skillet salmon with savory tamarillo sauce.

  • Serve – Plate a salmon portion, top with the tamarillo pan sauce, garnish with fresh herbs, lime, and/or fresh tamarillo slice. Cilantro rice makes a lovely side dish. While the title is “Mexican cilantro rice,” cilantro rice is a typical side dish in Peru as well! NOTE: I am working on a recipe/post for the grilled zucchini ribbons as well.
A brown ceramic plate with tamarillo glazed salmon, cilantro rice, and zucchini ribbon skewer.
Skillet Salmon with Savory Tamarillo Sauce, cilantro rice, and grilled zucchini ribbons on a skewer…

❓ FAQ

Is this skillet salmon good leftover?

No. I am not one to recommend leftover fish or seafood. The flavors can become quite strong. The savory tamarillo sauce can be saved and perhaps used on some rotisserie chicken or grilled vegetables.

Is there a substitute for tamarillo pulp?

Maracuya/passion fruit pulp will certainly taste different, but you can make a similar sauce with it. You may want to add a little agave nectar or honey to the sauce if it’s too tart.

Is this skillet salmon recipe healthy?

Yes. Even though salmon is considered a “fatty” fish, it is still considered lean, high-quality protein. It is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

How long to cook salmon in pan on stove?

We like salmon cooked “medium,” and in a hot cast iron skillet (depending on thickness of salmon portions) it requires only 5-6 minutes for the thin skin-on fillets I used. If yours are thicker, plan on more time.

💭 Top Tips

A heavy skillet produces a better sear. I use cast iron, but a good stainless steel skillet can work too. Avoid nonstick pans as they’re not well-suited to high temperatures, and the high heat may damage the nonstick coating.

Ají amarillo is rated 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville Heat unit scale. However, it has a fruity flavor which balances it out. If you are unfamiliar with this sunny, yellow Peruvian pepper, you may want to start with less. I find it similar to serrano peppers in heat level. I also find the jars vary a lot from one brand to the next.

Cooking time: I loosely follow the 10-minute rule when cooking fish on the stove: I allow approximately 10 minutes for each 1″ of thickness.

Healthy fish and seafood recipes are probably my major focus with my menu planning. We are blessed to have great access to high quality fish and seafood, and that may not always be the case. I definitely “count my lucky stars.” If you love salmon (or other fish), see if you can find tamarillo pulp, and give this simple, healthy recipe a try. I think you’ll be glad you did!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A cast iron skillet with skillet salmon with tamarillo sauce.

Skillet Salmon with Savory Tamarillo Sauce

Seared salmon with an easy tamarillo-flavored pan sauce over top…
5 from 3 votes

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 380 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 portions salmon - 8-12 ounces (see Notes below)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small shallots, minced - or 1 large shallot
  • 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry sherry - see Ingredients in Post for substitutions
  • cup tamarillo pulp
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch - see Ingredients in Post
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste

Instructions

  • Brush the surface of a cast iron pan with oil. Sear the salmon flesh side down over medium-high heat. Turn. Cook to desired doneness. This may take anywhere from 5 minutes for thin fillets to 10 minutes for thick ones. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Add the shallot to the skillet. Sauté until the shallot begins to soften. Add the ají amarillo and garlic to the skillet. Stir to combine, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the dry sherry to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Scrape the browned salmon bits into the sherry mixture. Reduce heat.
  • Add the tamarillo pulp and the cornstarch to a small bowl. Whisk to combine until smooth and incorporated. Whisk the slurry into the skillet until thoroughly combined. Bring to a low boil. Assess the thickness. Add broth or water as needed. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Return the salmon to the pan, spooning sauce over the top. Gently reheat if needed.
  • To serve, plate a salmon portion, top with the tamarillo pan sauce, garnish with fresh herbs, lime, and/or fresh tamarillo slice.

Notes

The body of the post under “Instructions” has a little more detail on the recipe if you need it.
According to MyfitnessPal.com (the app I use), a 4 ounce portion of salmon has 210 calories, 28 g of protein, and 13 g of fat. A 6 ounce portion has 315 calories, 42  g protein, and 19.5 g of fat. 
Macronutrients were calculated using 4 ounce salmon portions and 1/2 of the tamarillo/tree tomato sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 10g

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 Heart-Healthy Peruvian-Inspired Main Dishes

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2 Comments

  1. As a huge salmon lover, this recipe checks all the boxes for quick, easy, spicy and delicious. Was wondering how different in flavor is a tamarillo from a tomatillo. I bet the tomatillo is more sour right? Need to head to the special market to get the supplies straight away. This recipe is a keeper!

    1. Hola! Tamarillo is really not like a tomato or a tomatillo. The flavor of tamarillo is a bit tangy and tart, but slightly sweet. The taste is somewhat similar to a tomato, but with a more complex and fruity flavor profile. Some people also detect a slightly bitter or astringent aftertaste. The texture of tamarillo is juicy and somewhat pulpy, with many small edible seeds. I feel confident you’ll love it in both sweet and savory applications! I have a post coming soon that is all about tamarillos!