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.

Grilled Scallops with Bruschetta

Oh Bruschetta. Whoever initially thought up the idea of bruschetta was on a par, intelligence-wise, with the person who thought to put peanut butter and chocolate together. What can you put bruschetta on, you might ask? The answer is: YES. During a stint with Weight Watchers, I learned that bruschetta can be a fantastic topping for baked potatoes – it’s lower in both fat and calories than my usual sour cream topping. Bruschetta on eggs? Yes. Crostini (maybe with a little parmesan on top)? OH MY YES. It’s just a miraculous and incredibly easy thing to make.

For the first week of my Adventures in CSA, I thought that pairing some of the tomatoes (in bruschetta form) with fresh sustainable (!) sea scallops from the grocery store would do the trick. The answer is: most indubitably YES. This was a massive win, and though I didn’t do the grilling (DH handled that task rather nicely), I ran the kitchen and had the stove happily bubbling.

The full dinner that night: Grilled Scallops with Bruschetta, Garlic & Parmesan Couscous, and Glazed Carrots. (Full disclosure: the couscous was the Near East boxed variety…it has high acceptance rates with the kids, but I don’t think adding something boxed diminished the meal in any way.)

Dinner: grilled sea scallops with bruschetta, garlic & parmesan couscous, and glazed carrots

Scallop Dinner. Yummy Yummy.

Can you make this dish with bay scallops? Probably – although I wouldn’t do them on the grill. Bay scallops are small enough that I’d probably just pan fry them instead. Sea scallops, especially the wild ones that are sustainably fished, can be really nicely sized for the grill.

My instructions below are based on the idea that you’re doing these together – so it’s all about timing to get things done at the same time. If you want to make *just* the bruschetta, figure on about 10 min of prep time to cut everything, and then another 10 min of cooking time.


Serves: 2-3

Prep: 30 min (marinating the scallops); 10 min (chopping for the bruschetta)

Cook time: 8-10 min (scallops); 10 min (bruschetta)


Ingredients: Grilled Scallops

1 lb sea scallops

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tb lemon juice


Ingredients: Bruschetta

1 large slicing tomato, diced

2 medium or large shallots, minced

1-1/2 Tb extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried cilantro

salt and pepper, to taste


Make it Happen

1. Rinse the scallops and place in a mixing bowl; add the olive oil and lemon juice noted above for the scallops. Marinate for 30 mins.

2. When you start the grill, start getting the bruschetta in the pan. Start by heating up the olive oil for the bruschetta in a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, and stir to coat them with the oil. Continue to let the shallots go on their own for about 1-2 mins.

3. Add the tomatoes to the pan, stir well to combine. Sprinkle or grind salt and pepper onto the mixture and stir again, only adding a small amount. (I use sea salt and black pepper grinders, and I did just a couple grinds of each.)

4. Get the scallops on the grill. Total scallop cook time should probably be about 8-10 minutes, but definitely check them for doneness before removing them from the grill. You’ll need to turn them half-way through cooking, so figure on turning them around the 4th or 5th minute of cooking.

5. Continue to stir the tomato/shallot mixture, looking to see that the amount of moisture released by the tomatoes will first boil and then start to cook off. Add the lemon juice earmarked for the bruschetta, as well as the parsley and cilantro. Stir to combine.

6. Continue to cook until the scallops are done or until the majority of the excess moisture is gone from the pan. Remove from heat.

7. When the scallops come off the grill, top with bruschetta.

My result looked like this:

Grilled Scallops with Bruschetta

So tasty...

The sugar released by the shallots combined with the rich flavor of the CSA tomatoes to make this probably the sweetest bruschetta I’ve ever had. I have made variations on this before, where I added garlic with the shallots, and that adds a nice tang that’s totally worth doing – but we were out of garlic (the horror!!), so I made do. And this definitely worked.

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.