Growing up in the Pacific Northwest it would seem that a love of salmon would be in my DNA, but unfortunately I didn’t fall for the Omega-3-filled fish until adulthood. Now I look forward to its bright pink flesh and eagerly hope that an appreciation for our region’s mascot will become engrained in my children.
Why? Well, because first (and this is always my priority when it comes to food) it’s delicious, delicate in flavor, far less “fishy” tasting than other fish, and lends itself to a wide variety of ingredients (like my Thai take on Salmon Chowder in this issue’s recipe). Also, it’s incredibly nutritious, particularly if you enjoy wild salmon, which is lower in fat and calories than farmed salmon and is higher in iron, potassium, and zinc.rowing up in the Pacific Northwest it would seem that a love of salmon would be in my DNA, but unfortunately I didn’t fall for the Omega-3-filled fish until adulthood. Now I look forward to its bright pink flesh and eagerly hope that an appreciation for our region’s mascot will become engrained in my children.
In the summertime, when the grill is always at the ready, I love to slather my salmon with mayonnaise, brown sugar, salt, and a good bit of lemon. Now, I realize that that sort of treatment may negate all the health benefits of salmon, but those concerns melt away as the sugar caramelizes, the lemon brightens and the mayonnaise creates a rich sauce, coating the perfectly flaked salmon. This time of the year salmon makes a healthful addition to a hearty and warming soup.
Chowder isn’t often thought of as health food, but this version uses coconut milk as its base instead of cream and is scented with lemongrass, ginger, and lime leaves (lime zest works in a pinch if lime leaves are too hard to find). To put this soup over the top, we finish with a piece of salmon skin crisped in a hot skillet and seasoned with salt. The perfect crunch to this satisfying soup.
No matter the season, salmon is a great place to start for a simple, healthful, and delicious weeknight meal.
by Ashley Rodriquez
Chef, food blogger, & full-time mom
THAI-STYLE SALMON CHOWDER WITH CRISPY SALMON SKIN
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons oil
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, large dice
2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed and cut into 3-inch pieces
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 quart chicken stock
1 can ( 13.5 ounces) coconut milk
8 ounces salmon, skin removed (but save for later), cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
For serving: Cilantro Lime wedges Crisped salmon skin
Set a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the oil and heat until it starts to shimmer.
Sauté the mushrooms until deeply bronzed, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
Stir in the tomato, bell pepper, lime leaves and lemongrass. Cook until the tomatoes soften and release their juice and the bell peppers start to wilt.
Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring the whole pot to a simmer. Reduce the heat to keep a steady simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the salmon, fish sauce and lime juice and cook for just a minute or two, until the salmon is just cooked. It will continue to cook with the residual heat so be mindful of that.
Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. I tend to like the soup very bright and sour so you may want to start with a bit less fish sauce and fresh lime juice.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. To crisp up the salmon skin add a small splash of oil to a large cast iron pan or skillet. Add the salmon skin to the pan set over medium high heat and cook until the sizzling steadies and decreases. Flip and do the same to the other side, about 3 minutes per side. Add a small pinch of salt to the skin. Cook until crisp.