Smoky Maple Salmon
Until a few years ago, my experience with cooking fish or seafood was limited to a can of tuna, fish sticks, and the treat of walleye or crappie that my husband would bring home from the occasional fishing trip.Tilapia entered my kitchen over the years, and then some shrimp and cod. Salmon made itself at home primarily after our boys headed for college. They were especially hesitant to try “fishy” seafood like salmon. I never really considered it because it seemed too expensive. We also weren’t fully aware of how good it was for us.
Then I found this recipe for Smoky Maple Salmon. Easy. Nutritious. Delicious. My oldest son started enjoying fish and seafood while he was in college and now is comfortable cooking shrimp and scallops on his own. Last summer while home from college, my youngest very bravely asked if he could try the salmon I had prepared for my husband and I, and managed to eliminate the expected leftovers from the platter. Bandwagon jumper.
Make a rub, sprinkle it over the fillets, bake, drizzle with maple syrup, bake, and eat. It can be made on the grill instead of in the oven. The temperature of the grill or oven can vary from 300-425 degrees which is a big bonus when you are making side dishes at the same time.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF SALMON
Low in calories, very high in protein, vitamins B3 and B12, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a good source of nutrients like selenium and magnesium, salmon is often categorized as “brain food”. I have yet to find a list of “superfoods”, like this one from HealthLine, that doesn’t include it. But what I like about it is how it pairs so well with the other superfoods: spinach, ginger, olive oil, avocado, etc. The health benefits on one, portion-controlled plate are … well … SUPER!
Recently, I have been paying more attention to the varieties available. There are many options at the grocery stores:
Atlantic, Alaskan King, Sockeye, Pink, etc.
Wild-caught and Farm-raised
Frozen and Fresh
Debates abound about additives and nutrient loss in farm-raised salmon. Wild salmon can be double the price and harder to find. The general conclusions of the sources I have read say:
Salmon is great for you.
Wild is preferable over farmed.
Eating salmon you can afford is better than not eating it at all.
Personal Preference: I typically purchase salmon from Costco or the meat counter at our grocery stores. I tend to be a little disappointed with what I find in the frozen foods sections. The fillets at Costco are big but I cut them into smaller portions, tightly wrap each piece in plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag and freeze. If wrapped properly, they will keep for months in the freezer. To defrost, place wrapped fillets on a plate in the refrigerator overnight.
TIP: If upon opening the packaging you are hit with a particularly “fishy” smell, try soaking the fillets in milk or buttermilk for 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel before preparing as planned.
DELICIOUS: SMOKY & SWEET
I think the reason this recipe has been so successful at our house is the smoky, slightly spicy, and sweet flavors. After enjoying this recipe so much, we have expanded our collection of recipes, experimenting with sesame-ginger, blackened, bourbon, and greek yogurt recipes (like this lemon and greek yogurt version). We like them all. We like variety.
But we keep coming back to this one!
Smoky Maple Salmon
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile or chipotle powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Combine first seven ingredients. If you don't have ancho or chipotle powder, you can substitute an additional teaspoon of chili powder.
- Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels and sprinkle one side of the fillets liberally with spice mix.
- Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees. If the skin has already been removed from the salmon fillets, place fillets on small pieces of aluminum foil that have been coated with cooking spray for easy removal from grill. Otherwise, spray grill racks with cooking spray and place fillets, skin side down, on grill racks.
- Grill 5 minutes for thinner fillets and 7 minutes for thicker fillets. Drizzle each fillet with a little maple syrup and continue grilling one more minute. Test if salmon is ready as described in notes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fillets on baking sheet and place in oven. Check fillets after 7 minutes for thinner fillets and 10 minutes for thicker fillets. Drizzle each fillet with a little maple syrup and bake for an additional one to two minutes. Test if salmon is ready as described in notes.
Whether you are a salmon-cooking newbie or just looking to expand your palate, I’m convinced your family and guests will be glad you found your way to this post.
I know I am.