When looking at the seafood section in the grocery store, have you ever wondered why the farmed salmon tag says “color enhanced through feed” (or even noticed that there)? First, you can thank the judicial system. After people found out what farms were feeding these guys, the court decided consumers should be alerted in some form, vague as it may be.
Basically, fish farmers add pellets of pigment (often artificially made) that turns the salmon that familiar pink-orange. Why? Because without it the fish would be gray, and people wouldn’t buy gray salmon. Why would they be gray? Because their gourmet diet includes delicacies like scraps from other fish and chicken (sometimes even feathers), soy products, oils, yeast, corn gluten, and PCBs (a cancer-causing toxin)–yum!
I don’t want to scare you; fish farms are improving. Many have altered their feed for healthier salmon and less environmental contamination. But your best bet is almost always wild salmon. It is much safer concerning contaminants, chemicals, and antibiotics, and often somewhat leaner as well–overall a better choice for the environment and your health. Just look for “wild” or “Alaskan” on the label (because Alaska caught on and banned fish farms).
I switched to wild a couple years ago and don’t plan to go back. (Some facts are too disturbing to unlearn.) But that’s fine with me because wild king salmon is my all-time favorite! It’s tender, moist, and succulent, mild-tasting (not fishy), ideal for almost any cooking method, and delicious with a variety of flavors–including this insanely delicious, easy, and adaptable orange dijon honey marinade/glaze.
This is my go-to sauce whenever I’m on vacation or short on options because it is made from simple, versatile ingredients that I always keep in a kitchen: dijon mustard, honey, orange juice, garlic, and dried herbs. For greatest ease, you can buy jarred minced garlic, or even dried garlic that is easy to take on-the-go. (Yes, I’m that person who packs garlic in her suitcase for every trip. You can laugh, but it means I get juicy, sweet and savory salmon wherever I go!)
This is also my favorite preparation for salmon: marinate a few hours, cook the salmon, and simmer down the excess marinade into a thick and delicious glaze to drizzle on top. Not only does this trick make the salmon extra moist and flavorful, it allows you to make a healthy, beautiful, restaurant-worthy meal with minimal time and effort.
– The salmon is cooked in a grill pan in this recipe, but you can also bake it at 425º 7-12 minutes, or pan-sear it a couple minutes per side, or cook it on an outdoor grill on a wood plank or rack, until pink in the middle.
– The seasoning options are just about endless. Try your favorite dried herb or herb/spice blend. My favorites for this recipe are dried Italian seasoning and Hawaiian seasoning (a mixture of Italian herbs, sea salt, pepper, and paprika).
Orange Dijon Honey Grilled Salmon
- 2 salmon filets, skinned (4-6 oz each)
- 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- Italian seasoning or Hawaiian seasoning
Mix Dijon, honey, orange juice, and garlic in a plastic baggy; add salmon and seal tightly. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to cook, heat grill pan on medium-high. Remove salmon from marinade, season with salt, pepper, and herbs/seasoning to taste, and cook several minutes on each side, until it flakes easily and the center is almost fully pink. (I like to take it off when it is still just slightly red in the center, because it continues to cook off the heat.)
Meanwhile, pour the excess marinade in a very small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until it has thickened to a glaze, and serve over finished salmon.
Served here with grilled asparagus (with a little salt, pepper, infused EVOO, and lemon juice), roasted golden baby potatoes (chopped, steamed 10 minutes, tossed with EVOO/salt/pepper/dried herbs, and roasted at 425º for 20 minutes), and a whole grain roll. Perfection!