Salmon is a superfood you either love or hate. I've converted from a hater to a lover but find that salmon is rarely my first choice for fish. Why, you ask? Food poisoning. Don't worry though, this story has a happy ending! My co-workers and I went out to lunch years (and years!) ago and I decided I was going to be "healthy" at the diner. You should really give me some credit because my old diner favorites included mozzarella sticks and disco fries (its a Jersey thing). At some point in college, I graduated to my standard toast and tea on Sunday nights at the Stateline Diner, which is still one of my favorite diner spots to this day. That menu choice made me feel classy, responsible and like a little bitty old lady. So here I am at my least favorite diner in NJ, whose name I will not reveal, facing the choice of salmon or chicken to rest atop my Greek salad. I got nervous, went through the health benefits in my head and went with salmon, the choice I basically never made until that day. Ten minutes later, our food arrives and I looked around the table feeling so proud of my healthy choice, because if I am being honest, I really wanted to order disco fries. And then I looked down at my plate. The salmon looked kind of...gray? It resembled canned tuna but much less appetizing and much more concerning. My very good friend and old co-worker, Jen, told me not to eat it because it did not look fresh but I figured, hey, I don't know much about salmon so I guess this is just what diner salmon looks like. Side note: Jen is always right and I've learned over the years that I should always listen to her, this day included. I ate half the salad, decided it was the worst thing I had ever eaten, and told myself I would never eat salmon again. That was until I spent eight days in bed from what has got to be the most insane food poisoning that has ever happened to anyone, period. After that, I decided salmon was the devil and I needed to remain 50 yards away from it at all times. Salmon did this to me and I would never forgive that beautiful red fish for it's wrongdoing. Never.
Well, that was admittedly a bit dramatic. And over the years I dabbled with salmon but only at upscale restaurants, due to my rightful skepticism. And then, one lovely evening while having dinner in Hoboken, I was encouraged to try the salmon, bok choy and rice dish by the waiter. I felt my temperature drop as I broke into a sweat. This decision felt like it happened in slow motion. I hesitated, especially when the waiter said this dish is best when prepared rare to medium rare, but eventually opted for the salmon dish. Let me tell you that this was the best salmon I've ever had and actually rivals for a spot in my top five favorite meals in Hoboken. If you know how many amazing restaurants are in this one square mile town, you would also know what a bold statement that is. I finally realized - it was not the salmon that did me wrong. It was my very poor diner decision making skills that have since dramatically improved. Lesson learned. And to this day, I am still made fun of by my old co-worker crew for ordering canned salmon at the diner. I guess it could be worse. #chickenofthesea
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Fresh From the Market:
- 12 oz. Wild Caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
- 3 c. Baby Bok Choy
From the Pantry:
- 1 c. Cooked Tri-Color Quinoa
- 1 c. Gluten Free Teriyaki Sauce
- 2 tbsp. Water
- 1 Large Ziploc Bag
- Large Baking Dish (Pyrex, Aluminum, doesn't matter!)
- Fine Mesh Strainer (optional)
- 2 qt. Pot (if quinoa is not pre-cooked)
- If you have frozen salmon, be sure to take the time to defrost it overnight in the fridge or run it under cold water for 15 to 30 minutes (still in the plastic, of course!). I like Trader Joe's Wild Caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, which is fairly priced and found in the frozen section. Marinade the salmon and the Teriyaki sauce in a large Ziploc bag for 15 to 30 minutes. If you have more time, you can leave it for up to an hour. Pop the Ziploc bag in the fridge for the desired amount of time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.
- If you read my blog, you know I encourage you to have cooked quinoa (and rice) kept in the fridge each week. I chose Trader Joe's tri-color quinoa for the contrast of color but you can really use any kind! If you do, great! If you don't, you will need 15 to 20 minutes to prepare the quinoa so be sure to put that on the stove while the salmon marinades.
- First, you must always rinse your quinoa. Put the cup of water in the pot, rinse with cold water and then run through a fine mesh strainer. Place the quinoa back in the pot and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then let it continue cooking on a low to medium flame for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take the Teriyaki salmon, place it in the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the fish is flaky. If you are on a gluten free diet it is extremely important that you buy gluten free Teriyaki sauce. Did you know that soy sauce and Teriyaki sauce are typically not gluten free? I was able to easily find Kikkoman Teriyaki sauce that was gluten free.
- While the quinoa cooks and the salmon bakes, you can prepare the baby bok choy. Because the salmon will have the strong and delicious Teriyaki flavor, I opted to maintain the flavor of the bok choy. That said, if you want to add oil, garlic, soy sauce - go for it! As per usual, I found baby bok choy at Trader Joe's so check there if you have trouble finding this at your regular food store.
- Take the baby bok choy and gently slice off the hard, circular end at the bottom. You don't want to cut the entire white piece off because that is the most tender part, and most delicious, in my opinion. Lightly spray the skillet (I prefer coconut oil spray), add the baby bok choy leaves and 2 tablespoons of water. When your salmon and quinoa are just about done, place it over a medium flame so you don't burn it too quickly. Cover with a lid for about 60 to 90 seconds to let the water steam the bok choy. Stir, check that it is soft and tender and then take it off the flame.
- Now it is time to build your meal! Grab two plates, measure out 1/2 c. quinoa on each, add the baby bok choy and place each salmon filet on top.
- Tip: if you love Teriyaki sauce and are not overly concerned with your salt intake, you can toss the quinoa and bok choy in a tablespoon or two. But the salmon should be so flavorful that you don't need it! I also like my quinoa a little crunchy and the sauce could make it soggy and mushy.
Have leftover quinoa? I always have leftover quinoa! Whether you used tri-color, white, red or black you can try these other quinoa recipes.