Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto

Cilantro and pepita seeds give this pesto for salmon a Latin vibe. Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto.

Seared Salmon with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from Bon ApetitPublished


  • 3 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
  • ½ cup green pepita seeds, raw, plus more as garnish
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled & minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 pinch each kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 (six-ounce) salmon fillets with skin
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges


Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and sauté until they sizzle and pop, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Wipe the skillet clean with a papper towel and reserve skillet.

Pulse the pumpkin seeds, cilantro, coriander seeds, cumin, and garlic in a food processor until a course, grainy texture is acheived. With machine running, gradually add the lime juice, and ¼ cup oil. If necessary add a tablespoon or two of water to achieve a thick puréed texture. Season with salt, pepper.

Wash and completely dry the salmon fillets.

Heat the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil in the large reserved cast iron or non-stick skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is very hot; add the salmon, skin side down. Cook it until the skin is very crisp, dark brown and releases easily from the pan. This should take 3 to 4 minutes. Do not be tempted to check or move the fish around in the pan during this time. You will only succeed in making it stick to the pan or worse ruin your beautifully crisp skin.

Once the skin has crisped flip the fish, and cook it an additional 1 to 2 minutes more, until the flesh is nearly (but not quite) opaque in the center. Do not let it cook all the way through. The fish will continue to cook after it leaves the pan. Your goal is a succulent flesh graduating from a medium rare center outwards to a crispy crackly skin.

Place the seared fillets on plates, skin side down. Spoon pesto over. Garnish with remaining raw pepito seeds. Serve with lime wedges.