These days, everywhere you turn, you hear health professionals encouraging consumption of "fatty fish," like salmon, because of their omega-3 fats and associated health benefits. Fatty fish are a rich source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fats, which are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and may be beneficial in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, eczema, asthma, depression and bipolar disorder. Additionally, omega-3 fats are critical in the formation of the brain and eyes of developing fetuses.
It's easy to understand why we'd all benefit from regularly (at least twice per week) consuming fatty fish. Fatty fish, like salmon, are an excellent source of high-quality protein and are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A serving of salmon contains more vitamin D than a glass of milk, another nutrient many of us are lacking in. There is no better time to start eating salmon than right now because it's Alaska salmon season.
Alaska sockeye salmon are considered the best and are prized by high-end restaurants for their succulent, rich, flavorful and silky flesh. Why are these salmon so spectacular? All wild salmon are born in freshwater and migrate to the salty seas to mature. Eventually, they return to their home streams to spawn - and because they stop eating prior to and during the trip, they must store extra fat to fuel egg production and provide energy during the trip.
Alaska sockeye salmon is so delicious you'll want to let the flavor shine in all its glory. Roasting is the perfect method to bring out the best of the fish's natural flavor. The method outlined below is nearly foolproof. An initial blast of high heat kickstarts the browning process and kills any bacteria, and then a lower, gentle heat cooks the salmon to perfect doneness without drying out the edges. For all you foodies out there who want something less simple, try a few of the flavor combos listed as variations.
Basic cooking instructions:
Oven-Roasted Salmon Fillets
"Score" the skin prior to cooking (see below) to enhance moisture in the fish as it cooks. The skin is very easy to remove after the salmon is cooked.
All you need:
4 (6-ounce) skin-on wild Alaskan salmon fillets, about 1-1/2-inches thick, skin scored**
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving
All you do:
1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Rub the fillets evenly with oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove the baking sheet. Carefully place the salmon, skin-side down, on the hot baking sheet and immediately return to the oven.
4. Roast until the fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife, 9-13 minutes.
5. Gently transfer the fish to individual plates and serve with the lemon wedges.
**To score the salmon: Use a sharp or serrated knife to cut four or five shallow slashes (about 1 inch apart), through the skin of each piece of salmon. Be careful not to cut into the flesh of the salmon.
Oven-Roasted Salmon with Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa: Combine 1 diced avocado, 2/3 cup chopped mango, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top roasted salmon with mango salsa and serve.
Salsa recipe adapted from: www.californiaavocado.com
Oven-Roasted Salmon with Horseradish, Walnut and Herbs: Combine 5 tablespoons creamy horseradish, 2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, dill and/or tarragon) and 2 tablespoons softened Promise or Smart Balance spread. Prepare salmon as directed above, through step 3. Roast salmon for 5 minutes, remove from oven and spread mixture evenly over salmon fillets. Return to oven and continue roasting for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Horseradish topping adapted from: www.AlaskaSeafood.org
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Katie Wilhelmi, RD, LD is a registered dietitian from Hy-Vee.