Eating healthy is one of the top New Year's resolutions, according to www.usa.gov. Wanting to start the new year on a healthier note, my friend Laura recently asked me for salmon recipes. Laura was looking to eat more foods known for their health benefits and knew that salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, would be a good choice.
Omega-3s, also found in flaxseed, olive oil and walnuts, are referred to as "good" fats because they reduce bad cholesterol and can help increase good cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming two servings of baked or grilled fish a week. Eating a variety of seafood is also a key recommendation in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The guidelines recommend eating 8 ounces of seafood a week in place of some meat and poultry. Salmon is my go-to fish for a quick, easy meal. It's ideal because it's a firm fish and holds up to all cooking methods and seasonings.
At most stores, you can buy farm-raised salmon or wild salmon. I won't get into the debate about which is better, but most stores sell both varieties fresh or frozen. Farm-raised salmon is typically reasonably priced and often on sale. Wild salmon, depending on the season, can cost much more per pound, though it, too, is often on sale.
Once you buy fresh salmon, cook it within a day or two. If you don't cook it, you can freeze it. Wrap it well in freezer-quality wrap, then place it in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air.
Because January is high time for citrus, pairing salmon with orange slices and an orange glaze is a great choice. It's a tasty combination and doesn't require a lot of prep work or ingredients.
The trick with salmon (and other fish) is not to overcook it. One way to avoid this is to brine with a mixture of salt and sometimes sugar dissolved in water.
When you cook salmon (baking, broiling or grilling), most recipes say to cook it until the fish flakes easily. I find that by then, the fish is overcooked and dry. Other recipes say to follow the Canadian rule of 10 minutes per 1-inch thickness of fish. That generally works for me.
You can cook the salmon with the skin on or off. For this recipe, I removed the skin because the salmon fillets are placed on a few orange slices. The oranges give it a nice flavor and great presentation.
Remove the peel of the orange by slicing about ¼ inch off each end to expose the flesh. Place the orange on one cut end and use a knife to slice off the remaining peel (along with bitter pith), cutting down from one cut end to the other.
Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes (plus brining time) / Total time: 40 minutes
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
¼ cup orange marmalade or apricot preserves
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 oranges, peeled, cut horizontally into ¼-inch slices
1 teaspoon citrus blend seasoning such as Mrs. Dash
Baby spinach leaves for serving, optional
Mix together the water, salt and sugar. Place the salmon fillet in a large sealable bag. Pour water mixture over it. Seal bag and refrigerate 2 hours.
When ready to cook, remove salmon from the brine and rinse well under cold water. Place salmon on a plate and pat dry. Cut into 4 equal servings.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the preserves, orange juice and Dijon until smooth and melted.
Place 3 slices of orange on the baking sheet. Top with one serving of salmon. Repeat with remaining salmon and orange slices. Divide the sauce in half; set aside one half. Brush each salmon fillet with some of the sauce and sprinkle with the seasoning.
Bake for about 12 minutes, depending on thickness, or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven. Brush each salmon fillet with the remaining sauce. If using spinach, place some on each serving plate. Using a spatula, carefully place salmon fillet with the orange slices on top of the spinach. Serve with steamed vegetables and rice pilaf if desired.
379 calories (42 percent from fat), 18 grams fat (4 grams sat. fat), 22 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 412 mg sodium, 89 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.