Did salmon say brain food? 4 fin-tastic ways to cook salmon

Photo of raw salmon fillets
Jakub Kapusnak/Creative Commons

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I’ve been eating a lot of salmon lately. Because of my dad’s slight seafood obsession, my kitchen has witnessed the gutting and filleting of numerous wild salmon. I’m not complaining, though. Salmon is delicious, versatile and full of vitamin D and healthy omega-3 fats, which are critical for brain health and proper immune system function.

With an endless supply of this wonderful pink protein, we’ve been cooking it in as many ways as possible. In soups and salads, baked, seared and smoked — the list goes on. From dinner to lunch and even breakfast too, my experience shows that you really can incorporate this fish into any meal. Here are a few of my family’s favorite ways to eat salmon. Note: If you’re using frozen salmon, make sure it’s fully thawed before cooking.

Brown sugar and ginger pan-fried salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ginger 
  • 1-2 green onion stalks
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 salmon fillet, 3-4 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Slice the ginger and green onion into thin strips.
  2. Add oil to a pan and toss the ginger on low heat until crispy and fragrant.
  3. Turn the stove up to medium heat and place the salmon in the pan skin-side down.
  4. Cook for 4-6 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Flip again and fry until the desired crispiness is achieved.
  6. Add brown sugar and butter to the pan. Mix together and coat the salmon in the mixture.
  7. Remove the salmon from the pan. Add the sliced green onions to the remaining butter-sugar mixture and toss until soft.
  8. Top the salmon with the green onions and remaining sauce.

Salmon pairs extremely well with brown sugar and butter. If you want something lighter, however, you can also season with salt and pepper or any other spices at hand.

Seasoned and baked salmon

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Dash of sake
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 salmon fillet, 3-4 ounces

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sake and salt.
  3. Spread the mixture onto your salmon.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.

You can also top with salt and pepper or with any seasonings you want. Paprika and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute are some of our other go-to seasonings. Experiment with different flavors to figure out what you like best. The possibilities are endless.

Salmon miso seaweed soup

Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup bonito flakes
  • 1 spoonful miso paste
  • 1-2 ounces tofu (optional)
  • Vegetables (optional)
  • Salmon bone
  • Salmon head (optional)
  • 1 handful wakame (dried seaweed)
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 3-4 ounces salmon, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. Add some bonito flakes to a pot of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the bonito flakes and add the miso paste.
  3. If desired, add tofu and your choice of vegetables. We like napa cabbage, as it gives the soup a sweeter flavor.
  4. Bring the soup to a boil.
  5. Add the salmon bone and head.
  6. Add the wakame, green onion and salmon pieces.
  7. Simmer for a few minutes until the salmon is cooked, and serve.

Warm, comforting and hearty, soup is perfect for the chilly weather. If you’re not feeling the miso, you can make a ginger-based soup instead:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sliced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Salt
  • 1-2 ounces tofu (optional)
  • Vegetables (optional)
  • Salmon bone
  • Salmon head (optional)
  • 1 handful wakame (dried seaweed)
  • 1 green onion stalk
  • 3-4 ounces salmon, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. Over low heat, toss sliced ginger (use more for stronger flavor, less for milder spice) with sesame oil in a pot until fragrant.
  2. Add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Continue with steps 3-7 above.

Salmon fried rice

If you have any leftover salmon from the previous day, use it to make fried rice.

Ingredients

  • Oil
  • Leftover salmon
  • 1 cup rice
  • Seasoning of your choice

Directions

  1. In a pan, heat a bit of oil.
  2. Break up the salmon into pieces and toss over medium heat.
  3. Add rice, season to your liking and mix until it looks good.

You can also add eggs, green onions, other sources of protein and veggies. Fried rice is customizable and perfect for getting rid of any leftovers.

As college students constantly on the grind, we must properly fuel our brains. Luckily, salmon is one of the best brain foods there is. Whether you bake it, pan-fry it, have it in soup or use it in leftovers, there are infinite ways one can enjoy this brilliant source of protein. So with these suggestions to get you started, grab some salmon and get cooking! 

Contact Kristie Lin at [email protected].