Savoring Salmon

Savoring Salmon

Enticing and unexpected ways to enjoy this super-healthy fish.

Thanks to its rich, buttery flavor, salmon is the favorite fish of many healthy eaters. But when it comes to cooking this cold-water delicacy, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut.

There is nothing inherently wrong with baked fillets, but why not experiment a little? Salmon burgers, smoked-salmon omelets, salmon cakes over greens, salmon steaks grilled on a cedar plank — the possibilities are endless.

Like veggies and fruits, fresh wild salmon is seasonal, with different varieties available from spring to autumn. Frozen salmon (both wild and farmed) is available year-round, but farmed salmon is generally much less nutritious and flavorful. It’s also less environmentally sustainable and may contain a greater concentration of toxins. So choose wild salmon whenever you can.

Here are our tips for identifying good, sustainable salmon and how to prepare it in both simple and imaginative ways.

Nutritional Know-How

  • Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA. Omega-3s are critical for heart, joint, eye, and brain health.
  • Recent studies indicate that salmon’s bioactive peptides — which are small protein molecules — may help control inflammation in our digestive tracts and support insulin effectiveness and healthy joints.
  • Salmon is an excellent source of the mineral selenium, which provides cardiovascular protection, decreases the risk of joint inflammation, and might help prevent certain types of cancer.
  • Unlike most large predator fish — tuna, swordfish, and shark, for example — salmon contains little mercury.

Quick & Easy

Baked in Parchment

Baked in Parchment

Roasting salmon en Papillote, as the French say, locks in moisture and flavor. (It also prevents your house from smelling fishy and makes cleanup a breeze.)

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper, and grill over hot coals. Impart a different flavor by using presoaked cedar planks: Season the salmon simply and lay it, skin side down, on the plank. Grill over indirect heat, covered, until cooked through.

Broiled Salmon

Broiled Salmon

The broiler is one of the most underused tools in our kitchens — a great alternative to the grill, especially as the weather turns cool. Serve broiled salmon with a little tamari and citrus juice on top.

Steamed Salmon

Steamed Salmon

Line a bamboo steamer with kale, cabbage, or bok choy for a nutrient boost. Steam for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Seared Salmon

Seared Salmon

Lay salmon, skin-side down, in a pan and add white wine or a citrus-flavored broth to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for five to 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Poached Salmon

Poached Salmon

Lay salmon, skin-side down, in a pan and add white wine or a citrus-flavored broth to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for five to 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Shopping and Storage Tips

  • Buy fresh wild salmon when it’s in season, from spring to autumn. The healthiest wild salmon for both you and the environment currently comes from Alaska.
  •  If you can’t find fresh wild salmon, try arctic char or fresh trout, which are related to salmon. Canned wild salmon is the next best choice.
  • Avoid most farm-raised salmon, which may have elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are often treated with antibiotics, and can fill surrounding waters with waste and pollution.
  • Look for salmon flesh that is bright, shiny, and firm. White marbling indicates the all-important omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Choose belly fillets, as opposed to tails, as they contain the most healthy fats.
  • If you purchase salmon the day after it was caught, it will keep for up to four days in the refrigerator.

Cajun Salmon Burger

Salmon burgers can be prepped a day in advance. To save time, ask your butcher to skin and bone the fish. In a pinch, you can also use canned or leftover salmon. For an Italian-inspired burger, substitute fresh basil for the green onions and sun-dried tomatoes or olives for the jalapeños. For a burger with an Asian flair, add a teaspoon of fresh grated gingerroot, and use tamari and cayenne instead of salt and pepper.

Salmon-Burger

 

Makes six burgers

Preparation time: 30 to 45 minutes

  • 1  1/2 pounds salmon fillets, skin and bones removed, cut into approximately 1-inch cubes (or substitute 16 oz. canned salmon)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
  • 6 whole-grain or gluten-free buns, buttered and toasted
  • 3 cups baby kale or spinach
  • 6 tomato slices
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon or Italian parsley

Place a quarter of the salmon in a food processor and blend into a paste. Pulse in the remaining fish, jalapeños, green onions, quinoa flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper until the fish is cut into ¼-inch pieces. Shape the mixture into six patties. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties for three to four minutes on each side until heated through. Top each bun bottom with greens, a tomato slice, some onions, and a salmon patty. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, and herbs together and serve as shown.

Salmon and Veggies Baked in Parchment

Use any fresh veggies you have on hand for this recipe. The moisture and flavor from the vegetables help steam and season the salmon. The bags can be prepared a few hours before cooking and stored in the refrigerator.

Salmon-and-Parchment

 

Makes four servings

Preparation time: 40 to 55 minutes

Supplies: 4 unbleached parchment-paper sandwich bags

  • 4 cups thinly sliced vegetables (carrots, zucchini, fennel, celery, leeks, asparagus, scallions, snow pea pods, tomatoes, kale, collard greens, etc.)
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (e.g., chives, fennel, dill, tarragon,
  • parsley, oregano)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tsp. white wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In each parchment bag, arrange 1 cup of mixed veggies. Top with a salmon fillet, and sprinkle with herbs, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with white wine, if desired. Fold the edge of the parchment bag over two or three times and crimp to seal. Place the bags on a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to sit for five minutes. Cut each bag open and serve.

Asian-Inspired Salmon Nicoise

A great showcase for fresh seasonal vegetables (you can sub in any you like or happen to have on hand), this recipe is a new take on the classic French salade niçoise. Cook and chill salmon in advance, or use leftover salmon if you prefer.

Asian-Inspired-Salmon-Nicoise

Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus time to chill the salmon, approximately three hours

Makes four servings

  • 8 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
  • 2 cups cooked haricot vert (or green beans), about 6 ounces, blanched and chilled
  • 6 ounces baby heirloom or red potatoes, cooked, cooled, and halved
  • 1/2 cup kimchi
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound cooked salmon, chilled and separated into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs. sriracha
  • 4 lemon wedges

Divide the Napa cabbage into four bowls. Arrange the eggs, beans, potatoes, kimchi, edamame, tomatoes, and salmon over the greens. Stir the mayonnaise and sriracha together, and add a dollop onto each salad. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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