Sweet Sockeye Salmon

This is one of those weeks where I just didn’t feel like buying meat. Thing is, we stockpile over the course of the year – a buy-one-get-one-free deal (BOGO) here, a trip to BJ’s there, and there’s just MEAT in the freezer. And, when dh started to explain how we’re just overspending on our grocery bill, I couldn’t stomach the thought of putting out money for fresh meat when I knew we had stuff in the freezer that was just in need of a thaw. And that’s where the salmon comes in. Being that we’re on a sustainable seafood kick that we are trying to make a lifestyle choice, we’d purchased a pair of frozen sockeye salmon packages on a BOGO a few months ago. (The price was decent as a BOGO. Under normal circumstances, it would be overpaying – something like $11.99 for 12oz, which works out to $15.99/lb). We’d grilled the first package not long after getting it, and we found it…dry. Something about it just didn’t work and we attributed this to the fact that it was frozen. DH was highly skeptical that we could make it work, so he’d been leery about my trying something else with the frozen salmon, but I promised that I would do something on the stove that I thought might add some more moisture.

Now, layer into this the fact that the kids don’t really get into meat much, unless it’s a fish stick/square (ds) or a chicken nugget (dd). Neither one really is big into salmon, so I had an uphill battle to climb. I’ll give away the ending: they still didn’t like it. BUT, I was able to get out of dd that the issue wasn’t the preparation but the fact that it was salmon. She just isn’t into salmon in any form. DH and I, on the other hand, liked how this turned out. And, he liked it enough that it convinced him I should go back later this week and pick up more (it’s on a BOGO again), not only so we have it for this recipe but also so that he can make this lovely Salmon Stroganoff that’s in the On Rice cookbook we have. (We’ve made it before with fresh salmon, and this preparation showed him that the frozen would work, too.)

We served this salmon on soba noodles, for a change of pace, and I roasted some golden beets to have on the side. That’s the thing about the CSA – before I started that, I don’t think you’d ever hear me exclaim “OMG! These golden beets are *GORGEOUS*!”, and yet I did that very thing this afternoon. Score one for locally produced veggies and an adult willingness to open one’s mind (and palate) to things that, as a kid, seemed oogy from any distance.

Note: the only mod suggested by dh was that the next time we should include shallots, to add even more sweetness. If you want to add shallots, I’d recommend 1 large shallot, peeled and minced, going in the pan at the same time as the salmon (or even just before).


Sweet Sockeye Salmon

Sweet Sockeye Salmon on Soba...this dish is brought to you by the letter S


Prep Time: 5 mins (assuming thawed salmon)

Cooking Time: 25 mins

Serves: 2



12 oz sockeye salmon fillets

1/2 cup white cooking wine (divided)

1-2 Tb olive oil

2 tsp crystallized ginger

1 Tb honey (preferably wildflower)


Make it Happen

1. Remove the skin from the salmon and cut the salmon into pieces no more than 1″ x 1-1/2″.

2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat; add the olive oil to the pan.

3. Add the salmon to the pan and turn to ensure even cooking after about 2 mins.

4. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of the white wine to the pan, to start the poaching process. Let this cook until the liquid is reduced by at least half.

5. Sprinkle the ginger around the salmon and let it cook for another couple of minutes, until the liquid is mostly gone.

6. Add the remainder of the white wine to the pan. Let this go until the liquid is nearly gone.

7. Drizzle the honey over the salmon pieces and toss/turn to coat them evenly. Let this go until the liquid is down to no more than maybe 1 tsp and serve with rice, noodles (pairs nicely with soba!) or the starch of your choice.

Let’s talk about fish, baby…

I love fish. I’m an unabashed, unapologetic omnivore, and I have no desire to cut fish out of my diet. Trouble is, between PCBs and other contaminants on the one hand, and overfishing devastating future fish populations on the other, it’s hard making educated decisions about how to get some yummy fish to the table on a regular basis.

Our first stop is the Seafood Watch program offered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They have guides available for all areas of the US, and you can even get apps for mobile searching on your iPhone or Android device. Their guides (whether browsed on their web site or in the printed guide, or browsed via the mobile app) can help you identify which varieties of fish are the best to get, from both a health and viability perspective.

For example, I love salmon. But, up here in New England, the most common salmon you can get your hands on is the Atlantic salmon. At this point, these salmon are all farmed, and there are known issues with the PCB content (high levels of contaminants in the fish) and with dumping of farm waste directly into the ocean. So, Atlantic salmon is pretty much off our menu until something big changes. Sockeye salmon is still okay, and anything that’s labeled as “long line caught” is often more sustainably fished.

Not sure if your fish at the grocery store or fish market has been sustainably fished? Best thing to do is to ask. If the fishmonger isn’t sure, or is cagy, then the odds are that they weren’t. Our grocery store has gotten A LOT better about trying to acquire sustainable fish, and they are in the process of overhauling their entire fish program to eliminate sales of any non-sustainable fish. Lest you think that I have to go to a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or other specialty grocer to get this…let me assure you, I go to a mass-market grocery store. A chain, even! (gasp) My point is, it’s possible to get fish that you won’t have to feel guilty about – and an ounce of education on this may ensure that you can continue to have yummy fish for a longer stretch in the future.

Other issues that parents often run into with fish: bones and mercury. Bones are easy enough to avoid if you remember to purchase fillets; fish steaks often have bones in them (although larger fish, like tuna or steak, would have bones that are large enough to be more easily spotted and avoided). For mercury, the key issue there is that adults can handle the mercury in fish far more easily than kids can; mercury poisoning in a kid can create developmental problems in addition to illness. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) came out with some nice recommendations about what to do with respect to fish and mercury a few years ago, and the advice is still good. Note that their recommendations apply to pregnant or nursing women, as well as young children.

So, the bottom line is that you can have sustainable fish, healthy fish, and generally guilt-free fish as part of a healthy diet for you (and your kids), with only a modest amount of up-front research.

Remember to consult with your doctor or your pediatrician if you have any concerns about adding/increasing fish in your diet, and certainly take plenty of precautions if you have family allergies to fish and/or shellfish.