Dear friends and fellow cooks,
this week we are going to talk about salmon, which undoubtedly is the most popular fish variety used in cuisines worldwide.
While being native to the oceans, particularly North Atlantic and Pacific, salmon can be found today in almost every part of the world, both farmed and wild. Actually, farmed salmon volumes produced are more than double that of wild salmon captured. You will be probably surprised to know that the vast majority of salmon eaten in the US and Europe is actually farmed. And while nothing beats the taste of wild salmon, especially if you caught it yourself, its farmed alternative can be really great if you know how to cook it properly.
And since you should be eating fish at least 2-3 times a week for a balanced and healthy diet, why not make salmon a regular choice for your family?
Salmon is an oily fish, which means its best part (the oil) is in its tissues, so you get to benefit from it just eating a fillet. No need to buy expensive nutritional supplements. It is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which do wonders for your heart and blood circulation (lower triglycerides and plaques), and can improve skin texture. Salmon is also high in protein and vitamins (particularly B and D) and helps you increase the level of “good” cholesterol, i.e. HDL cholesterol.
Don’t be fooled by salmon’s own cholesterol content, which by the way is lower than that of beef and chicken. Eating saturated fats (and not cholesterol itself) is what increases cholesterol levels in your body. And you know what? Salmon doesn’t have any.
Some suggestions for healthy salmon cooking? Always grill, poach, bake or steam the salmon. A good extra-virgin olive oil or soy sauce is all you need most of the times. Don’t deep fry and don’t use butter or heavy sauces. Yes, mayo or mustard can be tempting and they do taste good but they also completely cover salmon’s natural flavor. But of course, you don’t have to cook salmon at all. You can have it raw in sushi and thinly sliced for a sophisticated carpaccio preparation.
Remember to keep the quantities on the low side: a fillet (150-180 gr or roughly 5-6 oz.) is more than enough for each serving, since salmon has a high caloric content.
You only need very few ingredients to make a salmon preparation stand out. Soy sauce and chives are perfect for a tartare. Avocado, mint and light cheese or yogurt for sushi. Dill, parsley and lemon for a steamed or baked fillet. White wine or sake for poaching or stir frying. And of course the ever important salt and pepper as the final touch. Want to get fancy? Try it with a delicious teriyaki sauce!
Preparing salmon (i.e. cutting it the right way, removing bones etc.) can be difficult if you are not used to it. Ask your local fishmonger for the best cut for your preparation so you won’t need to worry. Also, most large grocery stores offer ready-to-cook fillets (both fresh and frozen) or ready tartare and these can be quite convenient.
When cooking salmon fillets, we suggest not to remove the skin, it improves the cooking and it looks great on a serving platter. Also, when cooking a fillet you need to achieve the right degree of doneness, otherwise the flesh could get dry and chewy.
How do you do it?
That’s partly a matter of experience, given that different salmon cuts and your own kitchen equipment both have a big impact (we found some powerful ovens to reduce cooking times by 50%, even if temperature displayed was the same). Generally speaking you should not poach or steam the salmon for more than 6-7 minutes, stir fry for more than 10 minutes, and broil or bake for more than 13-15 minutes at 200 °C (400 °F).
And what about smoked salmon? A delicious and always popular appetizer when combined with cream cheese, capers, pickles, olives or caviar, smoked salmon is a perfect complement to pasta, omelets and salads, and can also be a main course in its own right.
Imagination is your only limit!
So have fun with some of our best salmon recipes and let us know what you think:
- Smoked Salmon Salad with Avocado
- Risotto with Fresh Salmon and Lemon Zest
- Broiled Salmon with Dill
- Grilled Salmon and Corn Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Happy cooking with Cambooza!