Baked, broiled, grilled, pan-fried -- salmon has a place in your menu


Beth Gunter shows off Alaskan wild-caught salmon at her Gourmet Garage eatery in downtown Columbus. Salmon is one of the most versatile fish to prepare. Gunter shares her recipe for blackened salmon in today’s food pages.

Beth Gunter shows off Alaskan wild-caught salmon at her Gourmet Garage eatery in downtown Columbus. Salmon is one of the most versatile fish to prepare. Gunter shares her recipe for blackened salmon in today’s food pages. Photo by: Micah Green/Dispatch Staff



Salmon cooked on a cedar plank has a smoky flavor.

Salmon cooked on a cedar plank has a smoky flavor.
Photo by:




Jan Swoope



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 (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.



Also tasty


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 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


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, recommends.


For those who like to marinate, salad dressings or vinaigrettes are simple solutions; just 30 minutes can add great flavor.'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



  • Preparing the blackened seasoning is easy as pie, just combine and mix evenly all the ingredients including paprika, garlic powder, thyme, onion powder, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano and black pepper. (This is enough seasoning for a couple pieces of meat, so store your extra in an airtight container in a cool, dry place until ready for reuse.)


  • Prepare the blackened seasoning and set aside. Heat a cast iron skillet over your highest setting for about 10 minutes until it's very hot. When ready, the bottom of the skillet will be ashy white.


  • Rinse salmon fillets under running cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Dip the fillets one at a time in the melted butter, ensuring both sides of the fillet are covered with butter. Remove fish from butter and then, without setting the fish down, sprinkle fish on both sides generously with seasoning, patting by hand. Repeat this step for the second piece of salmon.


  • Place two pieces of salmon fillets into the hot cast iron skillet and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning fillets over once halfway through cooking. Pour 1 teaspoon of melted butter over the top of the fillets initially and another on top of the fillets when you turn it over at the halfway point.


    (Source: Beth Gunter, Gourmet Garage)





    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



  • Soak cedar plank in salted water for two hours, then drain. Remove skin from salmon fillet. Remove any remaining bones. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.


  • Generously season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the salmon (on what was skin-side down) on the cedar plank and carefully spread the mustard over the top and sides. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and crumble between your fingers, then sprinkle over the mustard.


  • Set grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-high. Place the cedar plank in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook until cooked through, around 20-30 minutes. The internal temperature should read 135 degrees F. Transfer the salmon and plank to a platter and serve right off the plank.


    (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,





    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



  • For the salsa: Peel and trim the ends from each orange. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, scallions, mint, capers, orange zest, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Toss lightly and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.


  • For the salmon: Put a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the grilling rack with vegetable oil to keep the salmon from sticking. Brush the salmon on both sides with the agave nectar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the salmon to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes.


  • Spoon the salsa verde on top of the salmon or serve on the side as an accompaniment.


    (Source: Giada De Laurentis,



  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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