Salmon Chili, Why Not?

salmon chili

I made Salmon Chili. Why not, right?

My salmon chili has beans it it too. Why not, right? When it comes to making a pot of chili, the possibilities seem wide open. At least they do to me. However, I realize there are certain places in Texas where chili is defined simply as chunks of beef simmered with dried chilies and nothing else. I usually break that rule.

My salmon chili is yet another example of me breaking the chili rules. But don’t worry, I’ve been breaking the chili rules for years. So it’s only natural that I’ve learned a few chili rules of my own. First and last rule: There are dozens of acceptable chili incarnations. Salmon chili has just become one of them. You see I’ve made chili with beef, chicken, turkey, pork and even lamb. Hold your ears in Texas, but I’ve even made vegetarian chili. Still, this is the first salmon chili I ever made. I don’t know why I waited so long.

I wasn’t avoiding making chili with seafood. In fact I’ve made cioppino more than once that came dangerously close to being labeled chili (I tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to spice). But I never set off to make salmon chili, until now.

Salmon Chili

You see I was recently rooting through the freezer and I came across a filet of a whole King salmon. It was sent to me by the nice folks at Alaska Seafood. It was so special I just couldn’t decide what to do with it. Well I finally decided that it couldn’t just sit in the freezer any longer. So I chopped off a pound and wondered what to make. I opened my pantry and the first thing I saw was a can of white beans. White beans are one of those chili rules I don’t mind breaking. So before you can say sautéed onions– I was making salmon chili.

Once I decided I was making chili (with no rules) I added a poblano chili for its fresh bite, and of course jalapeño for a sharper sting. You could leave those out I guess. (There are no rules for this salmon chili). I may have started with something as unexpected as salmon, but it was shaping up to be a fairly traditional chili. That is if you don’t count the beans. In Texas they don’t like beans. Evidently it’s a rule. GREG

salmon chili

Alaskan King Salmon Chili 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Published

Red or black beans also work well in this recipe.

salmon chili


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (peeled and diced)
  • 2 stalks celery (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (cored, seeded and diced)
  • 1 poblano pepper (cored, seeded and diced)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 jalapeño (seeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans whole white beans
  • 1 tablespoon red Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound Alsakan salmon (skinned and cut into 1‑inch chunks)
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges (for serving)


Heat the olive oil in the large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Stir in the onions, celery, red bell pepper and poblano pepper until coated; season with ½ teaspoon salt. Cover the pan and let the onions cook slowly, stirring frequently until the vegetables are well-softened and the onions are lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Feel free to add a tablespoon of water part way through cooking if the pan looks too dry. Onions vary greatly in water content. When the vegetables are done, stir in the garlic and jalapeño; cook another 1 minute. 

Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes and their liquid; bring to a simmer. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to them pot along with the Tabasco, tomato paste, vegetable broth, oregano, chili powder, coriander and cumin. Bring back to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the flavors come together, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. The chili may be made ahead to this point up to 24 hours in advance. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate. In which case bring back to a low simmer before continuing.

Add the salmon and simmer until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir carefully to cook and incorporate the salmon without breaking it up too much. Garnish with cilantro. Serve warm in individual bowls with lime wedges on the side.