We love eating fish in our house, and with as many fishermen as we have in our extended family, we’ve been blessed with ample opportunity to taste fish as fresh as it gets. I particularly enjoyed sampling several varieties of Pacific Northwest salmon while visiting with my husband’s family. Chinook, Sockeye, Coho — it’s all delicious and so easy to cook.
At the same time, it’s been hard to keep up with guidance on the health benefits vs. the dangers of eating fish over the last few years. The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association both advise eating fish twice a week for all of its health benefits. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are indisputably good for the heart, and many studies show potential benefits to brain function, bone health, vision and nerve development. But it’s worrisome that some fish varieties have dangerously high levels of mercury or other contaminants, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women. In an effort to sort through all the conflicting information, we’ve done our best to minimize the dangers and reap the benefits of fish by:
- Consuming fresh-caught wild fish when possible
- Avoiding farm-raised fish altogether,
- Choosing varieties of fish, such as salmon and most shellfish, that are relatively low in mercury,
- Avoiding tilefish, swordfish, and other varieties that are dangerously high in mercury,
- When fresh-caught fish isn’t available, keeping a stock of frozen wild fish in the freezer to use, and
- Preparing the fish in the most healthy way (oven-baking or roasting, poaching, or steaming)
This recipe here for salmon is one that we turn to on weeknights or other times when we want a quick, relatively healthy, and flavorful meal. It’s great for fresh salmon, but we often use frozen wild-caught salmon fillets thawed in cold water for 30 minutes (kept in its sealed plastic packaging). You can serve it with steamed Asian rice and veggies on the side.
Oven-Baked Salmon with Ginger Mirin Sauce
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Fresh grated ginger from a 1- or 2-inch-long stem of ginger
Splash of olive oil
4 125g. fillets of wild-caught salmon
2-3 scallions, chopped diagonally, white and green parts separated
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 F (210 C) Combine mirin, soy sauce, brown sugar, and grated ginger in a medium to large bowl. Let the fillets marinate in the sauce for a few minutes. Meanwhile spread aluminum foil on top of a baking sheet and coat with a light splash of olive oil, spreading it thin around the foil. Place the fillets skin-side down (if the fillets have skin) on the foil and bake for about 12 minutes, or until it flakes when poked with a fork. While the salmon is cooking, transfer the marinade to a small pot, add white parts of scallions, and boil down until thickened. Serve the sauce over the salmon, and sprinkle with chopped green scallions.