Salmon Three Ways

The pride of the Pacific Northwest, salmon is a tasty and healthy source of protein that happily adapts to just about any cooking style. Whether you catch it yourself or buy it from your favorite fishmonger, salmon reigns as the perfect quick-to-fix meal. Roasted or grilled, broiled or braised, pan-fried, or poached, it is sure to provide pleasure to family and friends as they gather around the table. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, there’s another delicious meal in store—chowder, pasta, salmon cakes, salads, frittatas, or one of my favorites, fish pâté.

Square Salmon

The debate about wild salmon vs. farm-raised salmon can be heated, especially in culinary and commercial fishing circles. The case for wild-caught salmon is straightforward: They live, feed, and return to die in their natural habitat. The supply, however, is limited. The reality is that nearly half of the salmon destined for human consumption is farm-raised. Critics of salmon aquaculture worry about the possible transfer of disease to wild salmon, the potential for farm-raised salmon to escape from their pens and interbreed with wild salmon, and the subsequent risk of polluting the surrounding waterways as a result of fish excrement and uneaten food. While proponents of farm-raised salmon point out that new technology is being developed and implemented to help mitigate these concerns, the bottom line remains: The ultimate decision rests with consumers.

The other debate, fresh vs. frozen, may linger, but experts agree that there really isn’t much of an issue. Frozen salmon can be as good as fresh, depending on how and when it was frozen. So, if you’re lucky enough to land your own catch, be given a fish just reeled in, or if you purchased a beautiful fillet in the market, act as fast as you can. Either cook it for dinner that night or vacuum-seal (tight plastic wrap will do in a pinch), and get it into the freezer.

Pan-Seared Salmon

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets (skin on)
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Season with salt and pepper and add to the pan, skin-side up. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or to the desired degree of doneness, taking care not to overcook or the fish will dry out.

Oven-Seared Salmon

  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 450-degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and brush both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and put skin side down on the prepared pan. Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook until the fillets are firm, about 6-8 minutes.

Salmon: Cook it Low/Cook it Slow

  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Wash the fillets and pat dry. Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish, being careful to not overcrowd. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the fish is firm but still opaque in the center.

Salmon with Tomato, Caper, and Olive Salsa

An easy and delicious way to serve salmon—no matter how you cook it!

  • 1 cups orzo
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • cup red onion, finely chopped
  • cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the package. Remove from the heat, drain, and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and set aside in a warm place.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa by combining the tomatoes, capers, olives, red onion, parsley, 1 ablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Stir 1/3 cup salsa with the feta cheese into the orzo.

To serve, place a piece of salmon and up of the orzo on each plate. Top the salmon with up salsa and pass the remaining salsa in a small bowl. 

Karen Evenden has cooked aboard boats from the U.S. to Europe. She and her husband now cruise the west coast aboard a Kadey-Krogen. She has self-published A Taste of Croatia and Ojai’s Table, both available at Amazon.com.

Related