While there is no question that salmon is great for you — it consistently ranks at the top of healthy eating lists — it can seem intimidating to cook properly.
Amy Ornelas, registered dietitian at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital reminds you that salmon is a great addition to your weekly grocery list — at least twice a week — for its excellent source of key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B-12 and vitamin D.
According to Ornelas, the omega-3 fats found in salmon are important because they are not widely found in the American diet, yet are critically important to our health and well-being.
“Low levels of omega-3 fats are linked to higher rates of depression,” says Ornelas. If omega-3 fat-rich fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut are not your favorite, she recommends taking fish oil supplements to make up for the deficiency.
Intimidation of cooking salmon is not an excuse. Ornelas shares three easy ways to cook salmon, some helpful seasonings to make it your own and what to pair it with for a well-rounded meal.
Salmon in a salad is always a well-rounded and delicious option. Ornelas loves to pair her salmon with quinoa and a vegetable such as asparagus or green beans. Other popular side dishes with salmon are small roasted potatoes, like golden or fingerling, and rice pilaf.
Step 1: Choose the right salmon.
“Find salmon labeled ‘wild Alaskan salmon,’ because they generally have the lowest levels of toxins,” says Ornelas. “Fresh or frozen are both great choices.” Ornelas suggests staying away from farmed Atlantic salmon as it was named on the “Eco-Worst” choice list by the Environmental Defense Fund.
Step 2: Pick your seasonings.Ornelas recommends:
- Maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh dill
- Garlic powder or crushed fresh garlic
Step 3: Cook your salmon.
Yields 2 servings
2 thawed or fresh salmon fillets
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 400° F. Rinse salmon fillet in cool water and pat dry with paper towel. Drizzle the fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until flesh easily flakes with a fork.
*Ornelas recommends adding 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup and 1 clove minced garlic to baked salmon.
Bring the salmon to room temperature 10 minutes before cooking and pat dry with paper towel. Warm a large nonstick skillet with oil over medium-low heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high.
Place the salmon — skin-side up if applicable — in the pan. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula and cook until it feels firm to the touch, about 3 minutes more. The skin can be served or removed easily with a knife or spoon.
Salmon steamed in parchment paper
Heat oven to 400° F. Take two pieces of parchment paper, fold in half and cut a half-circle starting at each crease, making them look heart-shape when unfolded. Coat each piece of parchment paper with olive oil on both sides.
Place 1 salmon fillet in the middle of one side of a prepared parchment paper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the other half circle over and seal parchment edge by making overlapping folds around the edge. At the end, fold the last crease in the opposite direction of the rest to ensure it seals. Place pouches on a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow fish to sit for 5 minutes before cutting open parchment paper. The salmon is done when it easily flakes with a fork.
*Ornelas recommends adding fresh lemon on top of the salmon fillets to absorb while it steams.