It is salmon season and I am ready to party! I scored a gorgeous piece of Copper River sockeye salmon and I knew just what I wanted to do with it. I love the combo of a flavorful spice rub and a fruit salsa. This pineapple salsa is something I have paired with before in Kitchen Matters with chipotle shrimp tacos. I saw Carolina Gelen score salmon in an instagram reel and I thought it was a clever way to really get the spices to adhere to more of the fish. So good!Continue reading
Some of the biggest challenges home cooks face are lack of time and accommodating different dietary preferences. I am right there with you! And this new fish in parchment recipe I am sharing is a dream come true. It is not only healthful and delicious, but it’s quick to prepare, quick to cook and customizable. You can use different fish, omit the vegetables or substitute other ones, add a spicy element, or keep it super plain for the choosier eaters.Continue reading
When I was about 10 years old, I decided I disliked beef and poultry enough that I would give them up for good. I was a pre-teen pescatarian, limiting my “animal” consumption to fish alone which created a bit of anxiety for my parents. The concern was that I wouldn’t get enough protein since I was still growing. Of course I was quite fine since I ate plenty of eggs, cheese, yogurt, legumes and nuts in addition to fish once a week. But I have always preferred seafood to animal protein, even to this day.
Then I met a cute boy in college who asked me out to dinner and I said yes and he took me to a…steak house. Hmmmmm……..A cute boy is a cute boy, so off I went. Ironically, the boy was a meat and poultry-eater, but not a fish eater. Opposites attract, I thought. Or hoped. That night I had my first bite of steak in many years and I actually thought it was delicious. Not delicious enough to turn me into a full-fledged carnivore, but I did continue to eat a little beef and chicken until very recently when I decided, once again, that I just don’t like beef at all and I only like chicken enough to have a bite. After all these years, I’m still a fish girl.
If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you know that I married “the boy” and I’ve turned him on to almost all fish, except salmon. Once in a while he’ll have a bite to be nice, but he just can’t get into it. We tell the kids he’s “allergic.” But I absolutely love wild salmon and believe it or not, so does Mr. Picky! (“Love” might be a strong word, admittedly, but he always eats it.) We both think it’s delicious and since it’s so rich in important Omega-3 fats and a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, I like to find new ways to make it. (By the way, this is not the case with farm-raised salmon. Not healthy for you and bad for the environment.)
Slow roasting salmon is practically the only way I have cooked salmon in the last year. I just taught this method in my classes last month and everyone was so excited it. By cooking the salmon at a super low temperature (250 degrees) for a longer period of time, the fat just kind of melts into the fish and you don’t dry it out the way you might at 400 degrees which can cause the proteins to seize up a bit. I find wild fish to be a little tricky to get just right where it’s still moist and succulent, as opposed to tough and dry. Slow roasting is a dream and results in the most velvety salmon! Plus a bonus is that at such a low temp, you don’t damage the delicate Omega-3 fats. My son says he also likes this method because the house never smells like fish afterwards. It’s truly the perfect way to cook wild salmon!
Like I told my classes last month, this recipe is more about trying the technique of slow roasting and it’s not about the mango salsa here. I serve slow roasted salmon with lots of different salsas (try this one with corn and black beans), sauces ( I like this one with dill and cucumbers), dressings, or just a squeeze of citrus. Since it’s wild salmon season right now, I bet you can get your hands on some fantastic fish. I normally buy my wild salmon during the year from vitalchoice.com which ships it frozen on dry ice. It’s the best quality fish I can find. But starting in May, Grow in Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica Seafood have outstanding salmon and I haven’t been disappointed.
Needless to say, I will not be making salmon on Sunday for Father’s Day, but you certainly can. I guarantee, slow roasting is a game-changer!
Slow Roasted Wild Salmon with Mango-Cucumber Salsa
For the salsa:
½ cup diced cucumber (If you use a variety like Persian or Hothouse, you can leave the seeds and skin on.)
1 mango, firm, but ripe, peeled and diced
½ jalapeno, minced, seeds removed for less heat
1 scallion, finely chopped or 3 Tablespoons finely diced red onion (this measurement is really according to taste)
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (tender stems are ok)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
24 ounce fillet of wild salmon*(leave out of refrigerator 20 minutes before roasting)
unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the salmon on the baking sheet and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the top of the fish lightly. You can use your hands to oil the fish. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until center of salmon is rare and starting to flake when you poke it with a paring knife. The amount of time it takes to cook the salmon perfectly depends on the temperature of the fish when you place it in the oven and the thickness of the fish.
While the salmon cooks, prepare the salsa. Mix all the salsa ingredients in a medium nonreactive bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve salmon warm, room temperature or cold with salsa.
*If you use individual fillets, adjust cook time accordingly. 6 ounce fillets will take approximately 20 minutes.
If you’re really not sure if the salmon is done, you can roast until the thickest part registers 125 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Although the best descriptor for this recipe is “Spice-Rubbed Wild Salmon,” I could just as easily call it what it better represents to me, which is “7-minute Salmon.” Or “Plan B Salmon.” Or my favorite “I-Cannot-Believe-This-Game-Is-Going-Into-Extra-Innings Salmon.” Of course, you can replace most of that phrase with “Orthodontist Is So Late Today” (Salmon) or “How Long Have You Known You Needed The Posterboard?” (Salmon.) My point is that sometimes no matter how organized I am about meal planning and how good my intentions are, life can get in the way.
But in this case, desperate times do not call for desperate measures, nor do they call for take-out. They call for Plan B recipes! The other night I had every intention of making salmon in parchment, which isn’t brain surgery, but takes a few minutes. Things were not going my way — a conference call rescheduled for later in the day; a canceled carpool forcing me to do an extra pick-up; and hitting every single red light possible on the way home. I would normally just make everyone eat a little later, but Daughter #2 was starting a music class and she had somewhere to be pronto. Parchment was not happening, but I always have time to rub a few spices mixed with salt and pepper on some fish and cook it for 7 minutes.
The combination of the earthy cumin, sweet cinnamon and slightly spicy chili powder is really tasty and not one flavor dominates, so do not fear that the chili powder will make it spicy. Mr. Picky does not like spicy at all and he does like this salmon, as does Daughter #1. Hubby is still “allergic” to salmon, so I made him a piece of spice-rubbed halibut instead. What’s nice about these spices is that they don’t confine you to one particular cuisine. I have served this with cauliflower and pomegranate salad, roasted root vegetables, a dozen different rice pilafs, tortilla soup and so on. What’s nice is that you feel like you’re eating something more special than just a plain piece of fish.
Speaking of fish, I am rather particular about salmon. In my opinion, wild is really the only way to go. I am hooked (pun not intentional) on Vital Choice wild salmon, which we eat about 3-4 times a month. I believe the data that most Americans are lacking in Omega-3 fatty acids, or at least have a whacked out balance of Omega-6s and Omega-3s. Wild salmon is one of the best and most realistic (my kids aren’t going for herring anytime soon) sources of Omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory and super critical for brain and cardiovascular health. Kind of sounding like anything with salmon should be called “Plan A.”
Serves: 4-6 (depending on how large your salmon fillets are)
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
24-ounce side of wild salmon or equivalent amount of fillets
2 Tablespoons ghee or unrefined coconut oil (or olive oil, but doesn’t hold up to heat as well)
In a very small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Place the side of salmon on a cutting board, skin side down. Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the top of the fish. Cut into 4 or 5 (or 6) individual servings (if using 24-ounce side). If you have time, allow the fish to sit coated with the spices for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ghee or coconut oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, place the salmon spice-side down in the skillet. Sear for 3 minutes.
Turn all the pieces over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook! Serve immediately.
If you are using a salmon that is thicker than wild sockeye, you may need to finish it off in a 350 oven for about 6 minutes. You want the fish to get to the point where it starts to flake with a fork, but is still slightly rare in the center – it will keep cooking off the heat.
So Miss Vegetarian (aka Daughter #2) has decided that she isn’t as opposed to meat as she once declared. You might remember back in April that my 12-year-old announced her abstinence from all animal flesh and whole eggs. She would have been vegan if it weren’t for her love of cheese and ice cream. I have no problem with vegetarianism since I was one for many years. You’ve gotta do what’s good for you. But I had a hunch that my daughter wouldn’t make it to 13 as a vegetarian. Call it mother’s intuition or maybe just the vivid image I still have of her gnawing on a t-bone until it was dry.
So the recent announcement from Daughter #2 is that she has decided that she is only fish-averse. Is that the opposite of a pescatarian? Well, bummer, because that’s the one animal protein I was hoping she would come back to. I love fish, especially salmon, and I have always been so grateful that my family enjoys it, even Mr. Picky. Well, except for my husband, who is “allergic” to salmon, but will eat most all other varieties.
One of my favorite ways of preparing salmon is poaching. My husband likes when I poach fish because he says it doesn’t make the house smell “fishy,” but I like it because it is ridiculously quick and easy and a very healthful way of preserving all the wonderful Omega-3 fats in salmon. In the summer poaching is a no-brainer because it’s a perfect alternative to grilling, which you are all doing too much of. You can poach your salmon in the morning and serve it cold for dinner or use the poached fish on top of an entree salad or turn it into salmon salad for a sandwich. My kids prefer poached salmon slightly warm and they looove this cucumber-yogurt sauce, which is creamy, cool and slightly tangy. I have also served poached salmon with a salsa of fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil.
Many of my students have asked me if I continue to eat wild fish after the nuclear event in Japan, and I still do. My friends at Vital Choice Seafood have addressed the issue to my satisfaction and that’s that. I am honestly more concerned about consuming farm raised seafood. I’m sure there are sustainable fish farms out there, but I don’t have time to go look for them. In the meantime, I am comfortable eating wild salmon once per week and Daughter #2 can just have her cucumber-yogurt sauce with a spoon.
Citrus Poached Wild Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Serves: 4-6, depending on how big you cut the salmon
1 ½ cups dry white wine
3 cups water
Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of ½ orange
½ lemon, sliced
½ orange, sliced
Few sprigs of parsley
Few sprigs of dill
1 24-ounce side of wild salmon, cut into individual portions
Sea salt to taste
Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)
Place all the ingredients except salmon, salt and sauce in a deep skillet, preferably one with straight sides and a lid. (I used a 10-inch.) Bring to a simmer.
Season salmon with sea salt to taste. Gently transfer the salmon pieces to the pan, skin side down, beginning with the thickest pieces and ending with the thinnest. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat until the salmon is just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes, longer for thicker fillets. Do not boil.
Transfer the salmon by removing the thinnest piece first and the thickest piece last. Allow to cool slightly and serve immediately with cucumber-yogurt sauce or cover and refrigerate until cold.
¾ cup Greek yogurt (I like full fat.)
½ cup grated unpeeled cucumber, such as Persian, Japanese or English
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or mint
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons drained capers
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small serving bowl. Cover and chill until cold.
Don’t let the fancy name fool you. This recipe is as easy as it is beautiful and it’s absolutely delicious. All of this is in season right now — from the wild salmon and spinach to the blood oranges and beets — and it comes just in time for the last Friday of Lent.
This dish reminds me of a nutrition lesson I taught to some elementary school students one year about “eating the colors of the rainbow.” Nature provides us with a beautiful spectrum of colors from which to choose and those colors represent different phytonutrients — compounds found in plant foods which help protect the plants from viruses and bacteria, but also support our health, as well.
There are thousands of phytonutrients which are classified by family. But teaching the classification of phytonutrients to fifth graders (or adults) is overwhelming and confusing. All we really need to know is that each color (including white) represents an important set of differenthealth benefits. In order to maximize our exposure to all these health benefits, we need to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday in as many colors as possible…..like the colors of the rainbow.
This salad may not cover every color, but it sure gives you a solid start. One colorful addition to the salad which does not contain phytonutrients, but is loaded with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids is wild salmon. If you don’t eat fish, the salad is fantastic without it, but if you do eat fish I strongly encourage you to find a good source for wild salmon which is one of the richest sources of Omega-3s that you can find. Unfortunately the typical American is both lacking in Omega-3s and out of balance in the Omega 3 – Omega 6 ratio, resulting in a highly inflammatory diet. I bought this lovely piece of sockeye from Vital Choice because I need a consistent source of high quality fish for my classes, but occasionally I can find what I’m looking for in my local markets, including the farmer’s market.
Although I don’t get too worked up about the presentation of my food (I’m much more concerned with how it tastes and its nutritional benefits), it is always nice to eat something that looks as beautiful as it tastes.
To all my students and readers who celebrate Easter, have a lovely holiday!
Seared Wild Salmon with Beet, Blood Orange and Spinach Salad
1 bunch medium beets
5 medium blood oranges (or regular oranges)
2 Tablespoons finely diced shallot
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons raw honey
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces baby spinach leaves or arugula, washed and dried
6 filets wild Alaskan salmon, 5 to 6 ounces each
zest of one blood orange (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season the fish
4 Tablespoons cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the greens off the beets, leaving about ½ inch of the stems still attached. Save the greens for another time. Wash the beets well and place them in a roasting pan with a ½-inch layer of water on the bottom. Cover tightly with foil (if the foil touches the beets, cover first with parchment, then with foil.) Roast about 50 minutes (or longer for larger beets). When the beets are done, carefully remove the foil. Allow them to cool, and then peel them by slipping off the skins with your fingers. Cut them into ½-inch wedges.
Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood oranges. Stand the oranges on one end and, following the contour of the fruit with a very sharp knife, remove the peel and white pith. Work from top to bottom, rotating the fruit as you go. Then hold each orange over a bowl and carefully slice between the membranes and the fruit to release the segments in between. Squeeze any juice left in the remaining membrane into a measuring cup. Add any juice from the bowl of blood orange segments to the measuring cup. (Or if you're pressed for time, just slice the oranges into rounds.)
Combine the diced shallot, lemon juice, ¼ cup blood orange juice (if you didn’t reserve enough, you can add regular freshly squeezed orange juice), honey and ¾ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil slowly. Add black pepper and additional sea salt to taste.
Remove the salmon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Season the salmon with the zest, sea salt, and ground pepper.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the oil to the pan and allow to heat up for 1 minute, until very warm, but not smoking. Lay the fish in the pan, seasoned side down, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until it is lightly browned. Turn the fish over, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook a few minutes more, until it is almost cooked through. Do your best not to overcook the salmon. When it is done, the fish will begin to flake and separate a little, and the center will be slightly rare. The salmon will continue to cook a bit more while it sits.
Place the spinach in a bowl and toss lightly with some dressing. Transfer to a serving platter. Place the salmon on top of the spinach.
Place the beets and blood oranges in the bowl and toss lightly with some dressing. Arrange the beets and blood oranges around the perimeter of the platter. Drizzle the salmon with additional dressing, if desired.
Blood oranges are little more tart than regular oranges, so if you are not using blood orange juice in the dressing, you can balance the acidity with a little extra lemon juice or some rice vinegar.
Do-ahead suggestions: You can prepare your beets, oranges, greens and dressing up to 2 days before.