After several years as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, I came back to fish. I love fish, particularly salmon. It’s pretty, delicious, and full of protein and omega-3s. There are a few things to watch out for when purchasing salmon, though, if you’re being conscious of where your food comes from and how it impacts our environment.
There’s “good” salmon and there’s “bad” salmon. This refers not to freshness but to whether it’s farmed or wild. Alaska has robust wild salmon fisheries and that is the kind of salmon to look for. Look for the terms “wild” or “Alaskan” when buying fresh or frozen salmon.
“Bad” salmon is farmed. They’re treated with pesticides and antibiotics, are low in omega-3s due to their diet, pollute their local environment due to so many being raised in a small area (sewage), and reduce the supply of other fish — salmon are carnivorous, and it takes 3 pounds of other fish to raise 1 pound of salmon. Farmed salmon will often say it is farmed, but usually more prominently displayed is “Atlantic.” If your’e buying Atlantic salmon, you’re buying farmed salmon.
Buy wild and/or Alaskan salmon. It’s no more expensive than farmed, and it’s much better for you and everyone else.
Right now is sockeye salmon season — it usually shows up fresh in markets in June. Sockeye eats only plankton, which gives it a richer taste than other salmons, and a deep reddish pink color. If you see sockeye at your market, snap it up.
This salmon recipe puts filets in an soy sauce-tinged, slightly sweet marinade for an hour, then on the grill or under the broiler. It’s my go-to recipe when I want really flavorful salmon. Served on a bed of broth-infused quinoa, it’s even pretty enough to serve to other people.
asian salmon on quinoa
Quinoa naturally forms a coating of saponin (a precursor to soap) which can leave an unpleasant taste. Rinsing quinoa removes this coating. Much of the quinoa you find in stores has already been rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt anything to rinse it yourself to be sure. While the recipe calls for fillets, you can see from the photo that I’ve made it with salmon steaks as well.
prep: 20 minutes
marinate time: 1 hour
to table: 90 minutes
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Put quinoa in a medium saucepan. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until all broth is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.
4 salmon fillets (1 pound)
1/3 cup brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons lemon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger root
1/3 cup orange juice
Mix lemon pepper and garlic powder in a small prep bowl.
Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Sprinkle with about half of the lemon pepper and garlic powder mixture, and rub into salmon.
Add soy sauce and canola oil to small saucepan. Stir in remaining brown sugar, remaining lemon pepper and garlic powder, and minced ginger. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice.
Place rubbed salmon into a resealable plastic bag. Add marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning over after 30 minutes.
Heat broiler. Place marinated salmon in foil-lined baking pan.
Broil salmon, skin side up if there’s skin, for 2 minutes. Remove skin with tongs baste with marinade and broil 2 more minutes. If skinless, broil 4 minutes. Flip salmon over, and broil 4 minutes, until it flakes easily. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Heat grill. Place marinated salmon skin-side down on grill, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove skin with tongs, baste with marinade, and grill 2 more minutes on that side. Flip salmon over, and grill 4 minutes, until it flakes easily. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Spoon about 3/4 cup of quinoa onto a plate, place salmon filet on top, and serve.
Nutrition information (note this includes all the marinade): 508 calories; 21g fat; 71mg cholesterol; 1631mg sodium; 44g carbohydrate; 3.4g fiber; 15.3g sugars; 35g protein; 2% vitamin A; 25% vitamin C; 6% calcium; 17% iron