Salmon is among the most highly prized fish. Although they live in the ocean, they swim upstream against the current to reproduce in rivers where they were born.
Last August my family chartered a boat outside Sitka, Alaska where we fished for salmon, with a goal of catching Kings and Coho, but admittedly reeled in several pinks. Captains Mike & Lori Bauer gave us the adventure of a lifetime aboard the Huntress. Mike is a licensed Alaskan Fishing guide and his wife Lori is a wildlife expert and an absolutely wonderful cook.
Undoubtedly, I felt like I was working as hard as the salmon do. It is a very difficult, but rewarding, task to hunt for your food. After a successful hour or so of catching our prey we would stop the boat and my older sister Alli (alongside Captain Mike) cleaned and filleted the fish. Then my younger sister, Kristen, and I vacuumed packed the fillets and flash froze them on-board the ship. This wasn’t just vacation, but a life lesson in the fish packing industry.
Did you know purchasing fish from the freezer section is far better than going for the “fresh fish” section nearby? Modern freezing techniques, just as we were practicing on the Huntress, allow fishermen to freeze their catch just minutes after being caught. Many “fresh fish” are in fact previously frozen, shipped to your local grocery store, and then thawed before selling. Lesson learned: Buy your fish frozen if you don’t live near the water.
At night we anchor in scenic bays, enjoying sumptuous Alaskan cuisine, often featuring the “catch of the day”. This is where we had our lessons in fine fish dining. I would pick Laurie’s brain, take notes, and tuck away the suggestions to replicate back home. In the end we packed up and shipped back 200 pounds of our own sweat and labor. Luckily, I have been reaping the benefits of delicious fish since.
This baked salmon and mango salsa combination is a delicious take on a summer salmon dish. Though we didn’t enjoy this particular recipe on-board the Huntress it did bring me back to that beloved Alaskan sea!
A few tips to note before you get started:
- Make sure your fresh salmon is firm, moist, and smells like the ocean.
- If the salmon is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator or place filet in a plastic Ziploc and submerge in cold water. This speeds up the thawing process (takes 15-30 minutes depending on fillet’s thickness compared to several hours in the fridge)
- Keep seasoning simple. I use salt, pepper and a little lemon juice, especially when I have a dressing for the top.
- Bake salmon fillets uncovered at 400F, for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. When you remove the filet, it should flake with a fork around the edges. It may not be fully done toward the center, but will continue to cook after being removed from the oven.
- 4 salmon filets (4 oz)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lemon
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 large mango, pitted and chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- ½ sweet onion, chopped
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and miced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro or mint (dried if you don’t have fresh available)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Oil a skillet or large baking sheet. Place the thawed salmon filets skin down and season with salt and pepper.
- Add very thinly sliced lemon sliced on the top of the filets.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes, until salmon flakes with a fork.
- Combine all ingredients through the salt in a large bowl and mix together until coated with the lime juice. Add a squeeze of the leftover lemon from the salmon as well.
- Add the avocado and gently mix.
- Store salsa in the refrigerator until ready to serve.