When thinking about healthy fats (those that are rich in omega-3s) the most commonly cited source of healthy fats is wild salmon (not farmed). At this point, wild salmon is still a safe fish to eat as far as over fishing goes, but what do you do with it once it is cooked? Below are two ways to cook salmon and five sauces to top them with.
How to select your fish
Fresh is always better than frozen, and wild salmon is the only good option. Choose fish that has firm flesh and does not smell at all. Look for white fat lines, and choose fish from the belly (thick on one side, tapering to thin on the other) as opposed to the tail (uniformly flat). If you can, ask your fishmonger when it was caught.
Heat your grill to medium high. Prepare your salmon filets by rinsing them and patting them dry. Make sure there are no pin bones (tiny bones that you can feel when you run your hands down the side of the fish), and remove them with tweezers if needed. You can leave the skin on or off the salmon. Some people enjoy the crispy skin, and some do not. It’s a personal preference, but the skin does prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. If you keep the skin on, brush it lightly with olive oil, and season the filet with salt and pepper on the other side.
When the grill is ready (you should be able to feel the heat about an inch above the grate), brush oil onto the grill and place the salmon skin-side down. Grill for ten minutes. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork. Over cooked fish is great for salmon sandwiches, but you want it to be moist. You will notice a white substance coming from the fish; this is a natural release of fat and is normal. A perfectly grilled filet will have a slight translucency in the thickest part of the fish. A one-inch thick filet should take about 10-15 minutes of cooking.
Note: If you want grill marks on both sides of the fish, start by placing the fish with the skin side up and grill for 3-5 minutes. You can then flip and finish cooking on the skin side. A grilling basket makes this very easy but is not required.
Remove from the grill to a warm platter and top with one of the sauces below.
Turn on your oven’s broiler and position a rack to just underneath the flame. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil (or skip this step and prepare to spend some time scrubbing the baking dish after). Rinse and pat the salmon dry and place into the baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place baking dish into the oven and then be diligent. Broiling only takes about 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness, and it is very easy to over cook. You can even remove the salmon a few minutes early and then close the aluminum foil around it to finish cooking. Again, look for fish that flakes easily and is slightly translucent at the thickest part. Move to a warm platter and top with one of the sauces below.
Combine the following ingredients and mix until smooth: 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill. Spoon directly over salmon. Can also be chilled and mixed with cold salmon for salmon-fish sandwiches!
Avocado and roasted pepper
Process the following ingredients in a blender until smooth: 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a 6-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, 3 tablespoons of fresh basil, juice of half a lemon, 1 medium ripe avocado (peeled and pitted), and 2 tablespoons of milk (almond milk for vegans, or heavy cream to indulge). Add another splash of milk if needed for a saucier consistency. Pour over salmon.
Chop and combine the following: 1 mango, 1 tomato, half a red onion, and a handful of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a diced, seeded jalapeno for heat. This delicious salsa can easily be doubled, and you can adjust amounts and types of tomatoes to taste.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Sauté 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon of minced onion until fragrant. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. In a small bowl combine the following and then add it to the saucepan: 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce, 3/4 cup of soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of honey. Simmer for ten minutes on very low heat, then pour over salmon filets (this sauce can be prepared while the salmon is grilling or broiling).
In a food processor, combine until chopped: 1 bunch of fresh parsley, a few sprigs of oregano, 6 cloves of garlic, 3/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Add 1 tablespoon of diced red onion and season to taste with salt and pepper. You can play with the amounts of fresh herbs, adding more oregano or eliminating to altogether, and you can add as much spicy red pepper flakes as you like!
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