By Alison Diven, Contributing Writer
Think fish is bland? Tricky? Nah. If you like easy food with flair, get a load of this: Sriracha. Lime. Ginger. Tamari. This one-pot, 30-minute salmon dinner is like a kick in the mouth. The good kind, of course. Everyone from my toddler to my picky foodie father loves this recipe!
I developed this recipe as part of my own family’s quest to eat more seafood. I’m sure you’ve seen information about anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, found in high concentrations in seafood, and the need to balance omega-3 and omega-6 ratios. For a while, I took high-dose EPA-DHA fish oils, but these days, I’m mostly seeking the full nutritional package by eating the whole food. Seafood-eating people groups have long boasted exceptional health, and even Weston A. Price was impressed with traditional diets in costal regions. It’s not just about the omega-3s either. There’s also selenium, zinc, iodine, and who knows what else we haven’t yet identified. (For the record, I do still take fermented cod liver oil for the concentrated vitamin A and vitamin D.)
So, with a new family goal of two seafood dinners per week, plus leftovers for lunch the next day, I’ve been on the hunt for more recipes! One night I stumbled upon a one-pot salmon dinner from RealSimple.com. It was fabulous and easy, but after a couple of repetitions, I craved variety. That’s when this recipe was born. I recycled the cooking method but did a total flavor makeover, combining my favorite pho condiment, sriracha, which seems to be quite the trend these days, with other punchy ingredients like lime, ginger, and cilantro. A little coconut milk in the rice plus extra sugar snap peas beefed up the nutrition too.
But before we get to the recipe, maybe you have questions about seafood, especially its safety and affordability. Let’s take a quick look at the most common ones.
Isn’t seafood high in poisonous mercury these days?
You’ll see two main camps on this issue. One side says mercury in seafood is dangerous, period. The other side says not necessarily. They argue that selenium protects against mercury absorption, so as long as the fish you eat has more selenium than mercury (and most do), you’re golden. Chris Kresser is among the latter group and published a thorough, thought-provoking article on the topic here. I myself find the selenium argument persuasive, but just to be safe, I still mostly choose fish very low on the mercury scale. Here’s a useful chart for selecting low-mercury fish yourself.
What about PCBs and dioxins?
Again, I’ll reference Chris Kresser’s article. While PCBs and dioxins, both industrial waste toxins, are a health concern, seafood seems to be the least of our worries in exposure to them. Meat, dairy, and vegetables all far outpace fish. Unfortunately, we live in a polluted world, land and sea. Since not eating isn’t an option, I’m just make the best choices I can. For me, that includes fish.
But seriously now, what about radiation from Fukushima?
This one gives me real pause, largely because it’s hard to find solid information. On one hand is the contingent preaching certain death and disaster, and on the other the government party line on perfect safety. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between. (If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, “Fukushima” refers to the Japanese nuclear power plant meltdown following March 2011’s tsunami. Read more here. Basically, people are concerned about radioactive particles in seafood . . . plus a host of environmental consequences.) Many health conscious people have stopped eating Pacific seafood entirely, while others are selective. The Healthy Home Economist recently shared her sobering research on Pacific tuna (if you follow the Nourishing Gourmet on Facebook, you’ve already seen this one!), and here’s a recent article on the kind of testing on seafood and kelp that’s underway these days. All I can say is do your own research. We’re ditching Pacific tuna in my house, not that we ate much anyway, and sticking to Alaskan salmon, sardines, and Atlantic wild catches. I think the benefits of careful seafood consumption still outweigh the risks.
Seafood is expensive! How can I afford it?
You’re in luck here because Kimberly has already written a great article on this topic, 6 Tips for Eating Seafood on a Budget. Tip #6, use frozen and canned, is especially useful in my home because we live in landlocked New Mexico. Wild-caught frozen salmon from Costco, wild-caught canned salmon from our Azure Standard co-op, and wild-caught sardines are mainstays for us.
Is farmed seafood ever okay?
I always thought the answer was “no,” but in reading up for this article, I discovered I was wrong. Mark Sisson summarizes some healthy farmed options here, like shellfish (except from Asia), tank-farmed fresh water Coho salmon, and US trout. Who knew?
Am I supposed to eat the skin?
I was always confused about this growing up. The answer is YES, as long as you’re eating top-quality fish, please eat the skin. It’s full of healthy fats, different proteins from the flesh, and well, it’s a part of the animal that people have been eating forever. Talk about a traditional food! If it’s a little soggy from your preparation method, take it off the fish and set it aside. Later, crisp it up on the stove or in the oven, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy.
So, are you ready to dive in? Try it out this addictive recipe next time you need a nourishing meal fast. You’re gonna love it!
- 1 cup medium grain fragrant white rice, like basmati or jasmine
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (preferably BPA- and gum-free, like Natural Value)
- 1⅓ cups water
- 4 wild-caught salmon fillets, 4-6 oz each (frozen works well)
- salt & black pepper
- 10 oz sugar fresh sugar snap peas (or snow peas, green beans, or broccoli florets)
- 2 Tbsp lime juice (1-2) limes
- 2 Tbsp sriracha (I especially like Organicville because it's additive-free and extra delicious)
- 4 Tbsp tamari sauce
- 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane like this one)
- 4 green onions
- 1 small handful fresh cilantro
- Put the rice, coconut milk, and water in a large skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, cooking for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, season the salmon fillets generously with salt and pepper, and prep sauce ingredients. Juice the limes, grate the ginger, slice the green onions, and wash and chop the cilantro.
- After the rice has cooked for 10 minutes, stir it quickly and then place the salmon fillets on top. Replace the lid and cook for another 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, assemble your sauce by combining the lime juice, sriracha, tamari, ginger, green onions, and cilantro--reserving a small amount of green onions and cilantro for garnish.
- Add the sugar snap peas to the skillet and replace lid, cooking for another 3-5 minutes, until the snap peas are bright green and the salmon cooked through.
- Pour the sauce over all the ingredients and serve family style. Or, for a nicer presentation, remove the salmon and add the sauce just to the rice. Stir to combine and pile rice on individual plates, topped by a salmon fillet, and garnished with the reserved green onions and cilantro.
Even More Nourishing Seafood Recipes
Want more inspiration? Don’t miss these other healthy recipes at The Nourishing Gourmet:
Fresh Herb & Clam Sauce over Pasta
Broiled Black Cod Salad with Blackberry Dressing
Sardine Salad with Toast
Salmon with Basil Romesco Sauce
Crispy Fish Cakes with Double Mustard
And here are a few of my personal favorites from around the web:
Salmon Fish Stew, Brazilian Style from Simply Recipes
Sherried Sardine Toast by Alton Brown
Dad’s [White] Fish Stew from Simply Recipes
Shrimp, Pea & Rice Stew from Oprah.com
What are your favorites? I’m always looking for ideas!