Shrimp, salmon, and tuna are the big three when it comes to seafood consumed in the US. The term “Salmon Recipes” consistently ranks in the top recipe searches on Google. It’s easy to see why. Salmon is not too fishy, but just fishy enough for most people. It’s good and good for you; we need to eat less meat, and more fish. It’s widely available and folks aren’t too scared to cook it. Sorry, Charlie, but the truth is that salmon has become the “chicken of the sea.” However, all salmon is not the same. There’s a big difference in farm-raised and wild salmon. Although some farm-raised salmon gets a good ranking by Seafood Watch the truth is that it’s pretty complicated, even for chefs and educators. (And, that includes the cases upon cases of filets at Costco, too.) My advice? Best practice is to look for wild Alaska salmon.
That’s a 24 pound freshly caught King salmon held by a very happy Virginia. A few weeks ago I was able to visit Alaska and spent four days immersed in learning about Alaska seafood. Did you know that it is written into the Alaska constitution that the seafood harvest must be sustainable? Alaska’s seafood management practices are considered a model of sustainability for the entire world. Since 1959, the Alaska Constitution has mandated that “fish…be utilized, developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle.” It seems only natural in this vast, majestic land to want to take care of it, to preserve it.
I learned a tremendous amount about different types of crab, various fishing vessels, how fish is graded, and the breadth of species sustainably harvested in Alaskan waters. I met the folks that literally skim the waters in planes above the rivers counting the fish to insure that overfishing not occur. I was able to talk at length to one of the first female purse seine captains in Southeast Alaska. Our group was made of chefs, culinary professionals, and nutritionists from around the world. Each and every night we cooked and talked and tasted. As a longtime sustainable seafood advocate it was incredibly educational and immensely satisfying. I look forward to sharing the knowledge I gained to my readers for years to come.
One of the coolest (no pun intended) things that I learned was about cooking frozen fish — not thawing fish and then cooking it, but cooking frozen fish.
Once the Alaska seafood is caught much of it is frozen on the boat or in a nearby processing plant at absolute peak freshness. We’re talking mere hours out of the water and held on ice or in icy seawater. So, by cooking frozen-to-fork you’re cooking exceptionally fresh fish that’s not been mishandled or improperly defrosted at the grocery store.
It only takes a few more minutes of cooking time and the results are astonishing. Makes you think about that quick weeknight supper a bit differently if you’ve got a few fish filets tucked in the freezer.
Here’s a link to a FREE download for Erik’s Frozen-to-Fork E-Book packed with delicious recipes for crab, halibut, Alaskan cod, rockfish, salmon, and more. Check it out.
Thanks so much for reading! Hope you enjoy my Oven Roast Salmon with Olive Tapenade and Tomatoes, Erik’s recipes, and as a bonus, here’s a Marinated Side of Salmon that’s a family favorite.
Bon Appétit Y’all!
Oven Roast Salmon with Olive Tapenade and Tomatoes
- 1 2- inch thick piece of salmon filet about 1 pound
- 2 tablespoons pre-made olive tapenade or as needed
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 heirloom tomatoes cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 handful basil leaves torn
- pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
- Cooked angel hair pasta for serving
- Chopped herbs such as chives for serving
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the salmon in an ovenproof baking dish and coat with tapenade. Drizzle with olive oil and top with tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook until the salmon is firm, about 18 to 20 minutes. Divide the pasta into bowls. Spoon over some of the cooking juices and tomatoes. Top with salmon and fresh herbs. Serve immediately.
Salmon photographs by Virginia Willis
Virginia holding King Salmon photograph by Tyson Fisk
Totem pole and eagle photograph by Guga Roche
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