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The season for Alaska sockeye salmon is here

It’s time to head to Alaska.

Well, not for the weather, but for the salmon.  Salmon fishing is a seasonal industry in Alaska and from June through July is the time for sockeye salmon season.

Alaska sockeye salmon are considered the best and are prized by high-end restaurants for their succulent, rich, flavorful and silky flesh.

Why are these salmon so spectacular?

All wild salmon are born in freshwater and migrate to the salty seas to mature. Eventually, they return to their home streams to spawn — and because they stop eating prior to and during the trip, they must store extra fat to fuel egg production and provide energy during the trip. And that is when they are caught.

Salmon is a protein I always recommend. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death for both men and women so it’s a must have on the shopping list due to its omega-3 fat content.

Salmon is a type of fatty fish, a rich source of  DHA and EPA omega-3 fats are found in the flesh. These good fats are  associated with a lower risk of heart disease and may be beneficial in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, eczema, asthma, depression and bipolar disorder.

Additionally, omega-3 fats are critical in the formation of the brain and eyes of developing babies. Another little known fact is that a serving of salmon has a rich source of one of the most deficient vitamins in America — Vitamin D.

As I walk customers who are on a shop for health tour past the seafood case, I always explain how seafood is the ultimate fast food. It can cook in less than 10 minutes and can be flavored in so many ways.

Here’s a quick and simple way to bring out the flavor: An initial blast of high heat kick-starts the browning process and kills any bacteria, and then a lower, gentle heat cooks the salmon to perfect doneness without drying out the edges.

Why not bring out the grill for dad this Father’s Day and prepare a simple and delicious meal: Alaska Sockeye Salmon. You can find it at your local Hy-Vee.

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“Score” the skin prior to cooking (see below) to enhance moisture in the fish as it cooks. The skin is very easy to remove after the salmon is cooked.

Oven-roasted salmon fillets

Serves 4
All you need
•4 (6-ounce) skin-on wild Alaskan salmon fillets, about •1½-inches thick, skin scored**
•2 teaspoons olive oil
•Salt and pepper, to taste
•Lemon wedges, for serving

All you do
1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Heat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Rub the fillets evenly with oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3.  Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove the baking sheet. Carefully place the salmon, skin-side down, on the hot baking sheet and immediately return to the oven.
4. Roast until the fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife, 9-13 minutes.
5. Gently transfer the fish to individual plates and serve with the lemon wedges.

**To score the salmon: Use a sharp or serrated knife to cut four or five shallow slashes (about 1 inch apart), through the skin of each piece of salmon. Be careful not to cut into the flesh of the salmon.

Variations:
Oven-Roasted Salmon with Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa:  Combine 1 diced avocado, 2/3 cup chopped mango, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro and ¼ teaspoon salt. Top roasted salmon with mango salsa and serve.
Salsa recipe adapted from: www.californiaavocado.com

Oven-Roasted Salmon with Horseradish, Walnut and Herbs: Combine 5 tablespoons creamy horseradish, 2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, dill and/or tarragon) and 2 tablespoons softened Promise or Smart Balance spread. Prepare salmon as directed above, through step 3. Roast salmon for 5 minutes, remove from oven and spread mixture evenly over salmon fillets. Return to oven and continue roasting for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Horseradish topping adapted from: www.AlaskaSeafood.org
Oven-Roasted Salmon with Sol-I-Mar Rub: Combine 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon dried minced onion, ½ teaspoon dried orange peel, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon cilantro, ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning and ½ teaspoon dried basil. Stir well to combine. Rub 1to 2 teaspoons rub mixture onto each side of the salmon fillets. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Proceed with step 3, as directed above.
Salmon rub recipe adapted from: www.AlaskaSeafood.org