Whether it’s farmed or wild, salmon is an absolute treat. Farmed salmon comes with two distinct advantages: it’s not expensive, and its high fat content makes for not only good eating but also for extremely forgiving cooking. Wild salmon (like King, Sockeye, and Coho) is leaner, much more flavorful, and generally better; and you can typically find wild Alaska salmon in the fresh or frozen section of your grocery store.
As with any seafood, mislabeling is something to look out for. It’s not unheard of for purveyors to label any kind of wild salmon—or even farmed salmon—as King. Buy from people you trust.
A good piece of salmon only really needs a hot skillet and a sprinkle of salt, but to make it even more enticing, I’ve included recipes spanning a wide range of flavors and cooking methods, all of which will work for whatever kind of salmon you can get your hands on.
To learn how to cook salmon 12 ways, read this excerpt from my new book Kitchen Matrix here
For this week’s Matrix Challenge, I will be offering one of those above mentioned rare treats. Cook one of these recipes this week, or share a salmon recipe of your own, using #MatrixChallenge, and one person will win a $50 gift card to purchase Alaska salmon.
By Freya Bellin
Normally the idea of sesame noodles conjures images of a dense, nutty sauce. Here, a lighter approach is taken, with toasted sesame seeds offering a subtle nuttiness, alongside hearty whole wheat or soba noodles. Tender, wilted spinach soaks up the garlicky soy sauce, and seared salmon is a lovely accent; you can’t beat crispy salmon skin. However, it is truly just an accent. If you’re looking for a little more heft, you may want some additional protein, be it fish or tofu. Either way, the dish comes together quite quickly, and tastes great at room temperature. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
By Alaina Sullivan
This unique salmon preparation involves a cut of fish that falls somewhere between razor-thin smoked salmon and a robust wild Alaskan filet. I rarely think to slice fresh salmon filets horizontally, but one of the beauties of preparing it this way is the speed of its execution – it can go from pan to plate to palate in a matter of minutes. (Shorter if you skip step two like me). The most time-consuming part was removing the tiny bones from my fresh Coho, but speed bump aside, a swift slice down the middle, a generous seasoning and the fish is ready to go. The cooking, as the name suggests, is over in a flash: a brief touchdown in the hot skillet and the salmon slivers are cooked to perfection with a rosy hint of rareness in the middle.
Though robed in curry powder and delicious on its own, pairing the salmon with a creamy chickpea raita rounds out its Middle Eastern flavors. I rarely pass up an opportunity to use yogurt as a condiment – I love that its subtle tang adapts to sweet or savory, and its creamy texture is an invitation for ingredients to nestle within. It is no stranger to being used as the base of sauces to adorn meat, poultry and fish – the Indian raita being no exception. This cool condiment, spiked with cumin and mustard and textured by chickpeas, minced cucumber and red onion, takes as little time to assemble as the fish. A dash of red pepper gives it the perfect dose of heat to compliment the curry-spiced salmon. I recommend having a warmed pita or naan bread nearby to mop up any sauce that lingers at the end. Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs.
By Freya Bellin
Celery truly is underrated. Most people think of it as a mindless addition to salads or soups, but celery actually has its own unique flavor and becomes pleasantly creamy when cooked. This tenderness makes it a great contrast to the grainy, nuttiness of wild rice. You can certainly use water instead of stock for the cooking liquid, but the rice really has a chance to absorb the flavor of the stock, so it goes a long way here.
Steaming the salmon in the same pot as the rice makes this a one-pot meal, and also means that the salmon gets infused with all of the seasonings of the rice, too. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to use a grill and followed the variation for grilled salmon below. Salmon is a great fish for grilling because it stays very moist and cooks super quickly. Just remember that if you’re not steaming the salmon, you can add a little less liquid to the pot of rice. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook. Continue reading
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour
Salmon and green lentils are an excellent combination. Err on the side of undercooking the lentils. You want them to have an almost nutty texture. Other seafood you can use: trout, shrimp (both of which will cook more quickly, so make the sauce first), or scallops. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
by Cathy Erway
What a luxurious working-day lunch. It’s casual and uncomplicated to make — an open-faced sandwich — but on top of this bread lies slices of home-cured wild-caught red Alaska salmon surrounded by jewels from the garden. Funny to think that cured salmon (not smoked, but similar in texture and taste, sans smokiness) was once a common luncheon meat for the working man before it became a delicacy. It’s produced through a quick and easy process of rubbing salt, sugar and other seasonings into the fish, and letting it draw out moisture over a couple days. So, fishermen of Scandinavia, or Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, would use this method to make their fresh catches keep longer over time. Overfishing led to the rarity of this fish and now most salmon is farmed (and, to the connoisseur, tastes nothing like its wild brethren). Now, wild-caught salmon from the only sustainable fishery left in the world, Alaska, commands more than tenderloin on the market. So how did I get my hands on this stuff, and why am I sharing it with everyone for lunch? I caught wind of a wild-caught Alaskan salmon CSA, and signed up as soon as I could.
[Paul Greenberg is author of the newly released “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food” and a frequent contributor to the New York Times on fish, seafood and ocean issues. As far as I’m concerned, he’s fast becoming the country’s most knowledgeable writer about aquaculture, a difficult topic if ever there was one. – mb)
When the New York Times reported in June of 2010 that the US Food and Drug Administration was “seriously considering” approving a genetically modified Atlantic salmon for American consumption the cries from environmentalists and food reformers were, predictably, almost audible on the streets. The AquAdvantage® Salmon uses a “genetic on-switch” from a fish called an ocean pout (a very different animal) in combination with a growth gene from a Chinook salmon to achieve double the growth rate of unmodified Atlantic salmon.
The animal’s creator, AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, MA, asserts that the fish will be sterile and grown in out-of-ocean bio-secure containment structures. (We’ve heard that before. – ed.) Nevertheless the emotional worry of genetic contamination of wild fish, the public preoccupation with health risks a modified salmon could pose, and just the overall ick-factor consumers have about GMO food were all on display across the foodie and environmental blogosphere a few days after the Times article ran.
By Barry Estabrook
One More Reason to Avoid Farmed Salmon
Prince Edward Island bills itself as a bucolic haven of pristine beaches, white clapboard farmhouses, and quaint fishing villages. But the province is also home to one of the scariest places I’ve ever visited. There, in 2002, I toured a small warehouse-like building housing a dozen aquariums containing salmon that were genetically modified to grow twice as fast as normal salmon.
In one tank, a biologist showed me fish that were about the size of hot dogs. In an adjacent tank, salmon easily the size of my forearm paddled in listless circles. The fish in the two tanks were exactly the same age and had been fed identical diets. The giants, however, carried a gene that from a cold-water dwelling ocean pout that continuously enabled them to produce a growth hormone. Normal salmon stop excreting growth hormones when water temperatures cool. Continue reading