When I have guests coming over, one of my favorite meals to serve is grilled fish, and salmon in particular. It has one of the highest levels of Omega-3’s which help counteract the effects of today’s proliferation of processed foods. Salmon is beautiful on its own, with its pink color, but when you add a layer of sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of sliced basil, it becomes stunning! You cook the filet whole and your guests will be thrilled when they see the majestic piece of fish that you have cooked. I make sure to parade it around before taking it into the kitchen to serve – I love the adulation, LOL!
Today’s recipe calls for a whole salmon filet which is also called a “side of salmon.” You can call ahead and order one to make sure they have it available for you. The recipe recommends you cook the filet on tin foil which is fine, but can be a bit challenging to move from the kitchen to grill and back. I suggest you consider buying a grill pan and line that with foil – it makes clean up so much easier. The pan is sturdy and easy to handle. The last thing you want is your fish to slip out of your grasp and wind up on the ground!
One of the big topics in food circles today is the protection of wild and sustainable seafood. The decline in spawning salmon is well documented and a serious concern. One way you can help is to purchase wild sustainably harvested Alaskan salmon from a reputable fishmonger. Another way is to follow the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program when you purchase your seafood.
Seafood Watch encourages restaurants, distributors, and seafood purveyors to purchase from sustainable sources. Their recommendations are based on extensive scientific research and are designed to help sustain wild, diverse, and healthy ocean ecosystems. The viability of the oceans is something we can improve, and with perseverance, reverse our destructive practices. Seafood Watch puts out pocket guides each January that are regionally based, which breaks down the available fish into three categories; Best Choices, Good Alternatives, and Avoid. Keeping this card with you when you shop will help you make the best decisions.
As of May 2010 the Best of the Best List includes Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Colombia), Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S., Mussels (farmed), Oysters (farmed), Pacific Sardines (wild-caught), Rainbow Trout (farmed), and Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska). The Seafood Watch website is full of interesting and useful information and items you can download. Take a few minutes and check it out.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are buying fish, look for whole fish with the head still on. You are looking for clear eyes. If they are cloudy the fish was caught a few days before. You never want to buy fish that smells “fishy,” it should smell freshly of the ocean. If you order ahead you are guaranteed a very fresh piece of fish. Tell them that you would like to see the fish whole and that you will be buying half of the filet. As with any professional, they like dealing with people who understand what they do – a little show of respect will go a long way and you’ll always get the freshest fish they have to offer!
Kitchen Skill: Removing Fish Pin Bones
When you buy fish, no matter how careful your fishmonger is, there are usually bones still in the filets. To remove the bones, place your hand underneath the fillet to bend it up slightly, exposing the row of bones running down the length—they will poke out of the flesh and point at an angle toward the wider end of the fillet. Grasp each bone with a clean pair of Kitchen Tweezers or needle-nose pliers and gently pull it out in the direction of the wide end of the fillet. Run your fingers along the line and make sure you got all of them – some are sneaky devils and hide!
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or melted butter
- 1 whole wild salmon fillet (also called a “side of salmon,” about 1-1/2 lb)
- 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Preheat grill to medium or build a moderately hot fire with charcoal.
- Mash minced garlic and 3/4 tsp salt on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife or a spoon until a paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in shallots and oil or butter.
- Check the salmon for pin bones and remove if necessary. Measure out a piece of heavy-duty foil (or use a double layer of regular foil) large enough for the salmon fillet. Coat the foil with cooking spray. Place the salmon skin-side down on the foil and spread the garlic mixture all over the top and sides. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup basil. Overlap tomato slices on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.
- Transfer the salmon on the foil to the grill. Grill until the fish flakes easily, 10 to 12 minutes. Use two large spatulas to slide the salmon from the foil to a serving platter. Serve the salmon garnished with the remaining 1/4 cup basil. You can grill some asparagus to serve alongside if it is in season.