Grilled Salmon with Canary Islands Mojo Sauce Recipe, Spotlight on Dried Chiles, Avoiding Mislabeled Seafood, Protein Power and Strength Training for Women
If you’re a year-round griller like me, you’ve probably lit up the hardwoods even on days your porch or yard was buried under snow. But if you’re not that daring, you can still enjoy a subtle char from your oven broiler. I also find that the dead of winter is the perfect time to experiment with some added heat…from dried chiles. Peppers—fresh, dried, and ground—are the stars of this week’s Olive Oil Hunter Newsletter.
Grilled Salmon with Canary Islands Mojo Sauce
- Grilled Salmon with Canary Islands Mojo Sauce
This piquant sauce comes from the famed islands off the coast of Spain. It’s so popular that it’s often served at tapas bars as a dip for bread. I also love it with other toothsome fish like tuna, sea bass, and monkfish.
For the mojo:
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 dried chile pepper, such as ancho
- 8 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves plus a few stems
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey, or more to taste
- 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the fish:
- 2-pound fillet of salmon, skin on
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Fresh coarsely ground black pepper
To make the mojo sauce, start by charring the red peppers. You can do this on a grill, under the broiler in your oven, or by holding one pepper at a time over a gas range burner. Turn as needed to blacken the skin on all sides, and then let them cool for several minutes before peeling off and discarding the skins and removing the stems, ribs, and seeds. Coarsely chop the peppers and put them in the jar of a blender.
On the grill or in a dry sauté pan, toast the dried chile pepper for 30 seconds to 1 minute, turning once. Let cool, and then break into pieces, discarding the stem, ribs, and seeds. Add half to the blender jar, reserving the rest. Add in the cilantro, garlic, vinegar, honey, pimentón, cumin, and salt. Blend until fairly smooth. Then slowly add the oil through the blender lid with the machine running and process until the oil is incorporated. You want a thick but pourable sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding more of the reserved chile, vinegar, honey, cumin, and/or salt as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
Run your fingers over the salmon fillet to check for bones. Pull out any that you find with kitchen tweezers or sanitized needle-nose pliers. Lightly oil the salmon on both sides and season with the salt and pepper.
If you’re using your oven broiler (typically at a temp of 450-500ºF), place the salmon on a baking sheet and broil for 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can bake it at 350ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.)
If you’re grilling the salmon on a charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side of the grill pan; for a gas grill, light the outer burners but leave the middle burner(s) unlit. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the salmon with its skin side down on the grill grate, but not directly over the coals. Put the lid on. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pressed with a fork. Use a large spatula to transfer the fillet to a platter. Drizzle some mojo sauce over the fish and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
Note: A wire grill basket is a great tool for grilling fish—oil the basket, place the fish in it, and place it on your grill. When the fish is done, use tongs to lift the basket off the grill without the worry of the fillet coming apart.
Yields 4 servings.
Healthy Ingredient Spotlight
A bag of dried chiles can look intimidating, but they’re so easy to use that you should make room for them in your pantry. Just as I have various fresh chiles on hand when available, I keep a selection of dried varieties in my kitchen—cascabel for mild heat, ancho for rich smokiness, guajillo for smokiness and a bit more heat, and arbol for a lot of heat! I love them for adding depth to sauces like mojo, to stews and casseroles, and of course, to all manner of Mexican dishes.
Toasting them—for less than a minute—brings out their flavor before grinding or chopping them, but depending on the recipe, you might instead rehydrate them with a 20-minute soak in warm water. With either method, before using the peppers, discard the stems, ribs, and seeds, which can add unwanted bitterness to your dish. Also, kitchen scissors are great for snipping off the stems and cutting the peppers into pieces whether they’re dry or rehydrated.
Healthy Kitchen Nugget
Avoid Mislabeled Seafood
Renewed reports about mislabeled seafood might have you questioning whether that wild salmon you’re eyeing at the store could actually be farm-raised. After shrimp, salmon is the second-most mislabeled seafood, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which assesses most of the seafood consumed in the U.S. and offers recommendations for making sustainable choices. According to the watchdog group, virtually all Atlantic salmon is now farmed rather than wild-caught. But not all farm-raised Atlantic salmon (think of it as the variety, not its geography) is bad. Because of better farming techniques, Atlantic salmon farmed in Norway’s Skjerstad Fjord in marine net pens and worldwide in indoor recirculating tanks with wastewater treatment is a “best choice.” Farmed Atlantic salmon from Maine, Canada’s British Columbia, Scotland’s Orkney Islands, the Faroe Islands, and elsewhere when produced in indoor recirculating tanks without wastewater treatment is a “good alternative.” You want to avoid Atlantic salmon farmed in Canada’s Atlantic, in Chile, and in other areas of Norway and Scotland, mostly because of the overuse of chemicals.
According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it’s not just consumers who pay the price of mislabeled seafood—the consequences extend to marine life, fisheries management, and the environment. “In the United States, we’re actually very good at managing our fisheries,” said the study’s lead author Kailin Kroetz, assistant professor at the Arizona State University School of Sustainability. “We assess the stock so we know what’s out there. We set a catch limit. We have strong monitoring and enforcement capabilities to support fishers adhering to the limit. But many countries we import from do not have the same management capacity.”
To make the best choices, know the buying recommendations and make friends with your local fishmonger so that you’ll feel comfortable asking about the origin of any seafood you’re considering. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch search tool to learn which types of seafood are fished or farmed in environmentally sustainable ways.
For Your Best Health
Have you ever noticed that you feel more satisfied after eating protein? It’s not your imagination. Protein does a better job of quelling hunger than carbs and fat do. That can make a difference when you’re cutting calories to lose weight and want to stay on track. A small study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how healthy participants metabolized a high-protein liquid diet of 40% protein, 35% carbohydrate, and 25% fat compared to one with 15% protein, 55% carbohydrate, and 30% fat (the breakdown of the typical U.S. diet). Researchers found that people on the higher protein diet burned more fat and calories—more evidence of the power of protein.
According to NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, while many different diets can result in weight loss, a diet’s protein content is a key factor for a number of reasons. Eating enough protein helps you hold on to lean muscle as you lose fat. Your body also burns a few more calories when metabolizing protein than carbs or fat—up to 75 calories a day or the equivalent of an extra 10-minute walk. While all excess calories tend to be stored as fat, it’s harder for the body to do this with protein.
How much do you need? NASM’s guidelines are to eat 0.73 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, or 1 to 1.5 grams per pound if you’re a heavy exerciser, when trying to lose weight. One gram of protein has 4 calories, so once you total how many daily calories go to protein, subtract that number from your overall calories to know how much you have left to allocate to healthy carbs (veggies, fruits, and whole grains) and fats like extra virgin olive oil. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, NASM has terrific tips to help you meet your protein needs.
Women and Strength Training
Strength training is an important part of building health and fitness, yet many women shy away from it. A study done at Penn State University and published in the Journal of American College Health has shed some light on why. Researchers found a reluctance on the part of female students to use weights at the campus’s gym facilities, describing them as “highly gendered spaces.” A lack of knowledge about how to use the equipment, a lack of confidence and feeling self-conscious in the presence of men, and getting unsolicited advice from male peers were the main reasons—all of which can prevent women from strength training at the very time it should be becoming part of a regular fitness routine. Since developing and maintaining muscle strength is essential, especially in later years, if you’re not yet lifting weights, it’s time to get started. And you can do it at home or by joining a gym that caters to women or has women-only sections or hours.Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!