Salmon has a well-deserved reputation as a highly health-supportive food. Salmon species Chinook, Coho, Chum, Pink, Sockeye, and Steelhead are all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids for heart health, as well as significant amounts of B Vitamins and other nutrients, making salmon a super food in terms of health benefits. But not all salmon are created equal.
Selecting salmon: wild vs. farmed
Much of the salmon on the market today is farmed. Like any farmed animal, the quality of the product depends on the methods used to farm it. How much space do they have? How clean is their environment? What are they fed? Farmed salmon are penned and provided with feed that sometimes contains antibiotics and other drugs to keep the fish healthy as well as dye to make their flesh pink. The product is a fish that has a higher overall and saturated fat content, less Omega-3s, and less B Vitamins; losing some of its super food status as compared to its wild counterpart. In the worst circumstances, lack of oversight in salmon fisheries can lead to pollution of the fishery, producing salmon with high levels of toxins such as mercury and dioxin.
Cooking salmon: wet vs. dry
We’re flip-floppers when it comes to a wet versus dry cooking approach for salmon. Steamed in wine or baked with a dry rub, it’s all a matter of personal preference.
The “wet” method can be cooked in a baking dish in the oven or in a foil tent on the barbecue. For a light marinade that enhances the taste of the salmon, season the fish and add sherry and lemon juice to the dish. If you make a foil tent, be sure to fold the foil so that the liquids don’t drip out. If the taste of salmon doesn’t do much for your palate, cover it up with a more complicated marinade including ingredients such as soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and additional seasonings. Or you can just pour Jack Daniels over it and call it a night.
We had such success with dry-rubbing our meats that the method naturally carried over to salmon. Brush the fish with olive oil and sprinkle a healthy dose of salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, and garlic powder (or use a seasoning mix for fish.) Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees which takes about 10 – 15 minutes. The seasonings form a nice crust giving you a spot to drop a dollop of curry-seasoned sour cream (unless, of course you’re on a diet.)
Salmon sides: asparagus vs. green beans vs. spinach
A plate that’s crafted with a green vegetable alongside a pink fish provides the eye-appeal for a delicious, nutritious meal. Some of our favorites are asparagus, green beans, and spinach.
For asparagus, lay the spears on a baking sheet, brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven until tender.
Green beans are par-boiled and drained, then tossed in a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoned. Toast a handful of pine nuts in the toaster over for a couple of minutes to add to the plate when serving.
Do you ever wonder how an entire bag of baby spinach can cook down to barely two servings? In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil and a half tablespoon of butter. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Throw in the spinach and toss it around so it gets coated with the oil and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and sauté until the spinach is wilted (about a minute or two.)