By Nancy Smorch
This past week I went to the farmers’ market in Gainesville, Florida for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised with all of the organic and pesticide-free produce that was available. I was also excited to see a lot of local vendors selling gluten-free products, from some amazing Pad Thai, to cashew dip, to some homemade dairy-free Chai.
But one of the vendors I was most excited about was selling Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon.
I always like to talk to the vendors a bit to hear their story (everyone has a story, right?) and to dig deeper into exactly what they are offering.
In doing so, you learn that sometimes what they say they are offering and what they are actually offering ends up being a little misleading, so I like to ask questions, like: Are these tomatoes genetically modified? Were pesticides sprayed on this kale? And one of my favorite: Where were these grown? I don’t like to assume that just because the produce is at the farmers’ market, that it actually came from a small family-run farm.
Anyway, I asked this particular vendor with the salmon if he had a deal with a company in Alaska. And he said he and his partner actually went to Alaska and did the fishing themselves. He said last year they caught about 30,000 pounds of Sockeye Salmon and they are planning on making another fishing trip this May. He said he’s only doing this part time right now, but is working to make this his full time “gig."
I thought that was pretty cool and was the closest I was going to get to fresh-caught Alaskan salmon, so I bought some to test it out.
I wasn’t planning on making it so soon, but it was frozen, of course, when we bought it, and although it should have only taken me about 35 minutes or so to get home, I took a slightly different route.
It wasn’t until I was about 30 minutes into the drive "home," and I commented to my mother-in-law how you'd never know we were in Florida by the looks of the plants along side the road, that I realized that was probably because we were almost out of Florida! I went the wrong direction on the highway and was heading north toward Georgia instead of south toward Ocala!
Needless to say, by the time we finally got home, the salmon had started to thaw. I had to prepare it within the next couple of days or lose it... so guess what was planned for dinner the next night?
The recipe I found was an adaptation from a Big Green Egg Grill recipe. My plan was to cook it on the Big Green Egg, but the cold rainy weather was a little to uninviting for me. Fortunately, I had my Le Creuset stove top grill and that worked perfectly.
I adapted the recipe a bit - I didn’t put the brown sugar in because I figured it would be sweet enough with the maple syrup, and I added more garlic than was called for because I LOVE garlic.
Also, I accidentally put the melted butter and the maple syrup in with the marinade instead of waiting to brush the salmon with it while it was on the grill, but it worked.
Finally, I didn’t use any rub on the salmon. I figured I have made salmon before with nothing other than lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, so this would be more than enough!
It definitely was. The salmon was amazing! The color was a deeper red, as it should be, and I was pretty comfortable knowing that it wasn’t artificially made red, like a lot of salmon is. The sauce that I marinated it in was just enough flavor - it didn’t cover up the flavor of the salmon, rather it enhanced it.
I will definitely be going back to the market for more salmon and this recipe is, for sure, a keeper!
Ingredients for Grilled Salmon Fillets
1 to 2 pounds salmon fillets with the skin on
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
Olive oil for the pan
Mix all of the above ingredients to make the marinade, except the salmon. Then put the salmon fillets in the marinate and let set for at least one hour, preferably 3-6 hours.
When it the salmon is done marinating, heat the stove top grill. Drizzle and spread some olive oil on the grill pan and then put the salmon on, skin side up. Grill for about 4-5 minutes on the first side, then flip over so the skin side is down. Grill for another 4 to 5 minutes or until done to your liking. Take off the grill (the skin will probably stick to the grill, which works out nicely).
Serve with a side salad or some vegetables and rice.