Gavin Kaysen's Spice Crusted Salmon with Romesco & Couscous




  • 12-ounce Piquillo or other canned high quality sweet red pepper, drained and lightly rinsed
  • 1 each Large Vine-ripened Tomato
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, peeled and thinly sliced 
  • 3 each Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed 
  • ½ cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Salt


  • 4 qt water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups M'hamsa Couscous or Equivalent
  • 2 tbsp Luberon #4 spice blend
  • 2 tbsp EVOO


  • 1 1/2 inch thick Salmon filet skin and pin bones removed
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tbsp Izak # 37 Spice blend


For the Luberon #4 Spice Blend:

  1. Combine ¾ cup dried tarragon leaves, 1 T dried basil leaves, 2 tsp dried dill, ¾ tsp dried lemon peel, ½ tsp black peppercorns - yields ⅓ cup (we will use 2 Tbsp for this recipe)

For the Izak #37 Spice Blend:

  1. Combine 2 T sweet paprika, 1½ tsp caraway seeds (toasted), 1 tsp dill seeds, 1 tsp white peppercorns, 1 tsp juniper berries - yields ¼ cup (we will use 2 Tbsp for this recipe)

For the Romesco:

  1. Place a grate directly on the stove burner, char the tomato on all sides. Reserve.
  2. In a Copper Core 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat, sweat the chopped onion and crushed garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. About 10 minutes
  3. In a blender, combine the onion-garlic mixture and all ingredients except the oil and vinegar. Blend on low speed and continue to raise the speed slowly until the ingredients start to form a puree.
  4. Slowly drizzle in the remaining oil. Continue to blend until a smooth sauce consistency has been achieved. You can adjust the consistency with some of the reserved tomato juice. 

For the Salmon:

  1. Heat the Copper Core 3-quart sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the fish fillet with salt evenly on both sides.
  2. Brush the mustard evenly over what was the skin side of the fish fillet. Mix the crushed spices in a bowl, skip if using Izak #37 blend, dust spices evenly over the mustard. If salmon is not completely covered after 2 Tbsp, add more spices. Lightly push on the crust to make sure it sticks.
  3. Add the oil to the pan and place the fillet crust side down in the pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook gently to toast the spices. Check by lifting a corner of the fillet with your spatula. The spices should begin to toast and give off a pleasant fragrance.
  4. When the spices are an even golden brown, flip the fillet and place the fish in the oven. Continue cooking for four minutes. Remove the fillet from the pan and let it rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. 

For the Couscous:

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil. Add the couscous and cook for 8 minutes at a boil.
  2. Strain the couscous through a mesh strainer. In a boil mix the couscous with lemon zest and juice, herb blend, and olive oil. 
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed

Pro Tip

Did you know that you can create spice blends at home to elevate your pantry staples? This recipe calls for two different spice blends created by Lior Lev Sercarz and found in his book “The Spice Companion”. You can experiment with these recipes and play around with creating your own blends, or you can order from Lior’s company La Boîte and have chef-created spice blends delivered to your home.


Chef Gavin Kaysen

Gavin Kaysen is the award-winning chef and founder of Soigné Hospitality Group in Minneapolis, known for his nationally recognized group of restaurants as well as his leadership in the culinary profession. His restaurants in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis include Spoon and Stable, a 2015 James Beard Award Finalist for Best New Restaurant; Demi, an intimate 20-seat tasting menu experience ranked #3 on Robb Report's list of the "10 Best Restaurants in North America"; and Cooks | Bellecour, a culinary shop and cooking school which serves an array of French bistro-inspired pastries, sandwiches, and more. He introduced the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Mara and Socca Café in Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis in the summer of 2022. Chef Kaysen's catering company, KZ ProVisioning, created in partnership with Chef Andrew Zimmern, fuels the Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With the aim of supporting the next generation of young culinarians, Chef Kaysen serves as the President of the ment'or BKB Foundation Team USA where he collaborates with two of his mentors, and the world's most celebrated chefs, Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.

Chef Kaysen is the proud recipient of two James Beard Awards: Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2008, and Best Chef: Midwest in 2018. He published his first cookbook, At Home, in the fall of 2022, exploring recipes and techniques for every level of home cook.