Salmon season has arrived, and the markets are brimming with gorgeous wild varieties like King Salmon and Coho, which are perfect for grilling, poaching or even simply cooking in a lightly-oiled pan.
With summer here, fire up the barbecue and master the grilled salmon — it's an incredibly versatile blank canvas that you can use in everything from light salads to heady curries to spicy tacos. And grilling salmon is quite easy, as long as you follow the rule to pull it off the grill just a minute before you think it's actually done.
Coat salmon fillets with a little oil, salt and pepper, and cook until the salmon is almost opaque; "cook until flaky" is bad advice that will leave your salmon overcooked and strong-flavored.
One of our summertime favorites is Easy Summer Miso Salmon, which pairs miso with refreshing lime juice to create something between a creamy sauce and a citrus vinaigrette.
Miso, or fermented soy bean paste, adds a ton of savory flavor ("umami") and depth, while the lime juice keeps the recipe bright and summery. There's garlic and ginger for flavor, but the shallot keeps the flavor more Californian than Asian, although you could certainly add soy sauce, Mirin (Japanese wine) and chopped cilantro if you wanted to. Serve with brown rice, grilled veggies or a bunch of vegetable "noodles" for a filling and healthy summer supper.
Miso paste comes in various colors, with white and yellow being the mildest varieties, and perhaps the most widely available ones at the local supermarket. Keep a container of miso in the fridge (it lasts for months), and you can try adding a spoonful to soups, stews, dressings and dips, or even just stir it into a cup of boiling water and add a splash of soy sauce and rice vinegar for a warming quick broth.
Miso is low in calories, and offers a little protein and a smattering of minerals, including sodium, so you won't likely need additional salt when using miso paste. Try this week's recipe and add two new tools to your repertoire: grilled salmon and miso.
EASY SUMMER MISO SALMON
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 1/2 pounds wild Alaskan salmon fillet, such as King or Coho
1 teaspoon neutral oil, like olive or grapeseed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
3 tablespoons white miso paste
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/4 cup lime juice (or lemon juice)
3-4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the grill to medium and lightly oil the grates. Rub the salmon all over with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook the salmon flesh side down first, (skin side up), until almost cooked through, about 7-10 minutes total, flipping halfway through. (Internal temperature will be about 140 F, and it will rise to 145 F as it rests.)
Meanwhile, make the sauce (or can be made in advance): heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small saute pan and cook the shallots until tender, about three minutes. (Sprinkle with a little splash of water if needed to keep shallots from browning.) Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute. Add the miso paste and mix with a wooden spoon for another minute or two, or until very fragrant and the miso paste begins to deepen a little in color. Remove from heat, cool a minute, and then place in the blender with the honey, lime juice, water, mustard and black pepper and blend until smooth. Add extra water if needed. Spoon the miso sauce onto the hot salmon and serve with brown rice or veggies.
Chef's note: The sauce can be made into a salad dressing by thinning with more water and lime juice.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 94 calories from fat; 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 62 mg cholesterol; 443 mg sodium; 7 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 23 g protein.