There are so many wonderful things about salmon that it’s hard to know where to start.
It’s firm enough to grill, can be cooked in many different ways, and doesn’t dry out. It comes fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned. Wild salmon can be eaten without fear of excess contaminants or mercury and it has a very high nutrient profile, including the highly regarded omega-3 fatty acids.
The American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other health organizations, recommend you consume two servings of fatty fish per week. Salmon makes a good choice for these meals as it is high in healthy fats, protein and other vitamins and minerals. Regardless of the type of salmon you choose, it makes a positive impact on your diet.
Should You Buy Wild or Farmed?
The first choice you should make is whether to buy wild salmon (and all Alaskan salmon is wild-caught) or farmed Atlantic salmon. In most instances,opt for wild salmon because environmental groups, such as Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund, have put nearly all farmed salmon on their “red” or “avoid” list. The reason is because many farms use crowded pens where salmon are easily infected with lice, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). In addition, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish food to raise one pound of salmon.
There’s some good news. Salmon farmers are currently in talks with environmental groups about improving their practices and there is a proposal before Congress to set standards for aquaculture. Some farms, such as Sweet Spring in British Columbia, are raising coho in closed pens and that reduces the impact on wild fish. Others, such as Verlasso in Patagonia, are using feeds fortified with the omega-3 EPA, which helps cut back on the amount of fish needed to feed the farmed salmon. (Source: Eating Well Magazine)
What to Serve With Salmon?
Grilled salmon can be the focal point of many meals depending on what you serve it with. Not only can it be served hot on a plate with a few strategic sides and sauces, it can be made into a sandwich like tuna, used in a salad and tossed in a dish of pasta. Whether you are cooking American, Asian, Italian, or Latin cuisine, you can make your meal feature grilled salmon. To give it the right ethnic flavor, change the glaze or the sauce you serve it with.
Plain grilled salmon goes well with homemade bread and a green salad. Steamed asparagus and a tangy potato salad are another meal. Serve homemade low calorie tartar sauce along with sliced lemons and fresh dill.
Chilled pieces of grilled salmon make a gourmet salad. Add it to a bowl of mixed greens, sliced tomatoes, olives, onions and blueberries. Pour a citrus-based vinaigrette dressing over the top and add fresh croutons.
Slice grilled salmon into bite-size pieces. Toss them into a bowl of cooked pasta with capers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, green peas and sliced fresh tomatoes. Fold in a low calorie white sauce with a generous portion of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve with white wine and Italian bread.
Serve grilled salmon with a special sauce to give it an ethnic flavor. Make it Mediterranean by brushing on olive oil and sprinkling on minced garlic, thyme, mint and oregano. Make it Italian by adding basil and chopped fresh tomatoes in place of the mint. Give your grilled salmon an Asian flavor with a maple soy glaze spiced with garlic and ginger. You can even make it spicy Mexican by creating a lime-butter sauce flavored with cilantro and jalapeno peppers. To give grilled salmon a traditional American flavor, cover it with a honey-mustard sauce, and add a few whole mustard seeds.
Dinner For The Family
Salmon with Peppers
- 1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 (5 ounces each) skinless center-cut salmon fillets
- 2 limes, 1 cut into wedges
- 3 small peppers (red, orange, and yellow)
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 large bag baby spinach
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for spinach
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Prepare rice as label directs. Slice peppers and onion very thinly.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet on medium 1 minute. Add peppers, onion, 3 tablespoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Uncover; cook 3 to 5 minutes longer or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil and cook until wilted. Squeeze 1 tablespoon lime juice into mixture. Pour into a bowl and keep warm.
In same skillet, heat 1/2 teaspoon oil on medium 1 minute. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on salmon. Add salmon to the skillet; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, turning once. Transfer to serving plates. Grate peel of whole lime over fish.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine spinach and pinch salt. Cover with vented plastic wrap; microwave on High 3 minutes or until wilted. Spoon next to salmon, along with rice and pepper mixture. Serve with lime wedges.
On The Lighter Side
Italian Baked Salmon
Serve with a green mixed salad.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 4 salmon steaks or fillets, about 6 oz. each
Put all ingredients except salmon in the food processor.
Blend ingredients together until well combined and basil is finely chopped.
Put some of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
Place salmon in dish and mound rest of sauce over salmon.
Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 20-25 minutes or until done to your preference. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top of the cooked salmon.
When You Want Something Different For Dinner
Warm Italian Salmon Salad
Serve with sliced tomatoes and a whole wheat roll.
4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup uncooked orzo
- 2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups torn spinach
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 4 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, or cheese of choice
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Sprinkle salmon evenly with salt, oregano, and black pepper. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; break into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks.
Combine pasta, salmon, spinach, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well.
Pomegranate Glazed Salmon with Horseradish Sauce & Potatoes
Here’s a recipe for a special occasion meal that will impress your guests, but doesn’t take very long at all to prepare.
- 4 skinless salmon fillets (about 6 oz each)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see Notes)
- Coarse salt
- Coarsely ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 1 apple
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh horseradish (see Notes)
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 1/2 teaspoons salt
For the potatoes:
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound tiny potatoes (see Notes)
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion (green parts only)
- Pomegranate seeds and chives for garnish
Sprinkle the salmon fillets on all sides with a little coarse salt. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then dry the fillets thoroughly with paper towels.
Mix together the balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Brush the fillets on all sides with the glaze and place them on a plate. Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and place uncovered in the refrigerator while preparing the sauce.
Peel, core, and chop the apple, and toss with the lemon juice. Set aside.
Pulse the horseradish in a food processor or blender to get it as fine as possible. Add the apple and pulse until very finely minced. Add the cottage cheese and salt, and process until completely smooth.
Heat oil in a skillet and add the potatoes, tossing to coat. Cook the potatoes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color (about 7 minutes.) Stir in the shallots and cook until potatoes are softened and shallots are caramelized. Keep warm.
Place the salmon on a broiling pan and broil on Low (or in the lower position) for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
To serve, sprinkle potatoes with coarse salt and pepper and toss with the scallions. Divide the potatoes between four plates. Set the salmon on top and spoon the sauce on top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and chives.
Pomegranate molasses is available at Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. You can make your own by cooking down pure pomegranate juice very slowly over low heat until thickened. 1 cup of juice will cook down to about 1/4 cup and you’ll have plenty for the recipe. This can be prepared days in advance, so you are not making this the day you are entertaining.
If fresh horseradish is unavailable, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish (available in jars in the refrigerated case of the supermarket.)
If you can’t find tiny baby potatoes (about the size of a large grape), use the smallest ones available, cut in half or quarters depending on size.
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