February 27, 2013 10:18:54 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
When the palate gets a craving for fish, salmon is a delicious popular choice. It's one of the most versatile -- and forgiving -- fish out there. It can be baked, sautéed, grilled, pan-seared, poached or broiled. You can get it farm-raised or wild-caught, and it earns bonus points for its high quality protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
For years, salmon has consistently been the third-most consumed seafood product in the United States, averaging about 2 pounds per person per year, according to aboutseafood.com. (Only shrimp and canned tuna rank ahead of it.)
Beth Beard Gunter of Columbus knows her fish. In addition to the prepared menu at her Gourmet Garage restaurant at 425 College St., she offers a variety of fresh seafood for at-home cooks, including Alaskan wild-caught salmon and, from the Gulf Coast, shrimp, grouper, red snapper and scallops. She also sometimes carries King Crab legs.
"Salmon is an easy fish to cook because it doesn't require a whole lot of seasoning; it's easy to just put in the oven or on the grill," said Gunter. "It's probably the most popular of all the fish I sell."
The Columbus native's favorite ways to prepare salmon are baked and grilled. She also makes a blackened salmon salad for her establishment's lunch menu one day each week. She generously shares her recipe for blackened salmon in today's food pages.
Cedar plank cooking gets high reviews from salmon lovers. By soaking a plank of cedar wood in water, then laying it on the grill and cooking the fish on top, you not only infuse the fish with smoky flavor but keep the grill cleaner as well. It makes a great presentation, too.
Pan-frying salmon makes for a tantalizing entrée. The trick is to allow the oil or butter to get hot before frying, says fishex.com. This captures the oils and juices and keeps them in the salmon. But be careful, don't let the oil get too hot and smoke.
The basics include rinsing the fish quickly or wiping with a damp cloth. Dip the fillet portions or steaks into milk, then in cracker crumbs or flour. You can season, if desired. The oil should be deep enough to cover one-half of the fillet thickness. Fry on medium heat about three to five minutes on each side, until golden brown.
For baking, season the salmon then brush with butter (or substitute). Place the fish in a greased baking pan and cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness, recommends fishex.com.
If you prefer broiled, cook your salmon about 4 inches from the heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fillet flakes easily with a fork. When grilling, cook five to eight minutes on each side, until the fish flakes easily.
A tip: Before cooking, check fillets for bones by running your fingers over the surface. Small bumps are usually a sign of bones, which can easily be removed with tweezers, fishex.com recommends.
For those who like to marinate, salad dressings or vinaigrettes are simple solutions; just 30 minutes can add great flavor.
Food.com's recipe for "best salmon marinade" calls for a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 chopped scallions, one finely chopped garlic clove and 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger (peeled and finely chopped), poured over salmon and marinated for an hour in the refrigerator. Other marinade recipes are rampant on the Internet.
"We've had great response for our fresh salmon and other seafoods we carry," said Gunter, who used to stock up on seafood every time she went to the Gulf Coast because there "was really nowhere to get raw fresh fish" back home. The twice-weekly deliveries she now gets at Gourmet Garage help seafood-loving home cooks enjoy that "fresh-catch" goodness.
Editor's note: Gourmet Garage is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
4 boneless salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
1 stick melted butter
Blackened seasoning (see recipe)
For the seasoning:
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
(Source: Beth Gunter, Gourmet Garage)
CEDAR PLANK SALMON
Total time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes 4 servings
1 cedar plank (6-by-14 inches)
2 salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons brown sugar
(Note: A direct method to grill the salmon may be used. Soak the cedar plank well. Spread the mustard and brown sugar on the salmon, but do not place the fish on the plank. Set up the grill for direct grilling on medium-high.
When ready to cook, place the plank on the hot grate and leave it until there is a smell of smoke, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the plank over and place the fish on top. Cover the grill and cook until the fish is cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Check the plank occasionally. If the edges start to catch fire, mist with water, or move the plank to a cooler part of the grill.)
(Source: Steve Raichlen, foodnetwork.com)
GIADA'S GRILLED SALMON WITH CITRUS SALSA VERDE
Total time: 23 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Makes 4 servings
For the salsa:
2 large oranges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salmon:
Vegetable or canola oil, for oiling the grill
4 (4 to 5-ounce) center cut salmon fillets, skinned, each about 3-inches square
2 tablespoons amber agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(Source: Giada De Laurentis, foodnetwork.com)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.