While I’ve dabbled in multivitamins, I’ve never really embraced supplements. I’ll pop calcium carbonate when I haven’t had enough dairy, or power vitamin C into my kids if a cold is coming on, but beyond that, the nutrients in our house tend to come from food, not pills.
The one exception is omega-3s: those essential fatty acids that I’ve read can do everything from guarantee I never get a stroke, to ensure my kids’ brains develop so fully they’ll be studying literature at Oxford by 16. I’m forever seeking that fish oil potion I can actually convince my trio of children to choke down. We’ve tried it straight up, noses pinched, with an OJ chaser, and experimented with the lemon-flavored (though cod liver scented) variety, to no avail. Most recently, I resorted to a sugar-coated fish oil gummy that seems unlikely to house any omega-3s at all. My teenager deemed it “unbearable.”
One thing the kids do like is salmon, so I find myself back in my comfort zone: getting nutrients from my food. Wild salmon is one of the richest sources of omega-3s around, so why am I struggling over expensive supplements? All kidding aside, there is some pretty remarkable evidence linking omega-3s to health. Research shows a potential for offsetting cardiovascular disease, and promising findings in reducing depression, PMS, bi-polar disorder, and ADD. And there’s some pretty compelling studies linking omega-3 intake among pregnant women with improved brain development in their offspring.
Problem is, wild salmon isn’t available at the moment, and when it is, the prices can top 20 bucks a pound. That’s pretty spendy when feeding a family of five. So where does that leave me, trying to do right by my kids, who need those darn omega-3s so they can get into college?
Here’s where, I’m going to whisper it since it’s a bit of a departure for me and how I usually cook: I’ve been buying frozen, wild, sockeye, salmon from Trader Joe’s.
No, it’s not as good as fresh, gorgeous, local wild salmon. But, I don’t have to wait until salmon season in June to buy it, and it won’t break the bank.
And look how pretty? I’ve given up farmed salmon altogether. Seafood Watch puts it in the “Avoid” category of its consumer buying guide. Farmed is inferior from a nutrition perspective with far lower omega-3s and less protein than wild, as well as an unsettling record of high PCBs and other environmental pollutants.
While fresh fish tastes heavenly practically bare naked, the key with frozen is to infuse it with flavor and cook it just right. A tasty marinade is all you need to doll things up.
This Miso and Ginger Glazed Salmon work beautifully no matter what the source of your fish. The salty taste of miso paste pairs well with mirin, a sweet, rice wine available in many supermarkets, Asian groceries, and specialty food stores. Plenty of fresh ginger rounds out the flavors. We’ve eaten this twice over the past couple of weeks: once accompanied by baby bok choy and soba noodles, the second time, with a shredded cabbage and carrot salad doused with a rice wine vinegar dressing. Both meals were a hit with the kids, delighted not to be force-fed cod liver oil. Plus I’ve noticed a marked increase in IQ points since upping our fish quotient.
Ivy Leagues, here we come!
MISO AND GINGER GLAZED SALMON
• 2 tablespoons miso paste
• ¼ cup mirin
• 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
• 4 wild salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each
• 1 tablespoon grape seed or canola oil
In a baking dish large enough to fit the salmon in one layer, whisk together the miso, mirin, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and ginger.
Put the salmon fillets in the dish and coat them in the marinade. Leave on the counter for 30 minutes, turning them a few times.
When you are ready to cook, heat the grape seed or canola oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Set the filets skin-side down in the pan. Brush the salmon liberally with the marinade.
Cook until the flesh of the fish turn opaque about 1/3 of the way up the side (3 to 4 minutes). Use a spatula to turn the fish. Cook on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes until the salmon is just cooked through, keeping in mind it will continue to cook even after it’s off the heat.
Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Note If you are going to buy frozen salmon, allow it to defrost in the refrigerator the day before and cut it into individual fillets. Salmon can be also be cooked under a broiler.