Monica King here with a fun and delicious honey recipe using wild-caught salmon. Salmon in the Southwest? Sure! In this era of airplane travel, sometimes friends escape the heat and head to Alaska on a fishing trip. Failing friends with full ice chests, many local stores carry fresh salmon.
Wild Versus Farm Salmon
There are some key nutritional differences between wild-caught and farm-raised salmon. According to USDA data, a fillet of wild salmon has 131 fewer calories and half the fat content of the same amount of farmed salmon. And while farm-raised salmon may have more omega-3 fatty acids, it has 20.5 percent more saturated fat.
While calories and fat content are important, they are still that is not my deciding factor. Here is the scary stuff: pollutants! The PCB type of persistent organic pollutants is five to ten times higher in farmed fish than in the wild! Evidence says these pollutants have been linked to several diseases. Both wild and farmed salmon swim in water, so yes, both wild and farmed salmon contain contaminants. But! Depending on how clean the water is, studies have shown that the wild salmon has lower pollutant levels and is considered safer overall.
Then there are the antibiotics in farmed salmon. How much exposure to antibiotics are the farmed fish getting? In what state or nation was the salmon farmed? There are regulations and industry standards that set antibiotic amounts, but these are not international laws. You have no way of knowing how much antibiotics were used. So wild caught, fresh in season, this is when I splurge on salmon!
Smoky Honey Onion Smothered Wild Salmon
I currently do not have a smoker – and you don’t need one either. (Just don’t tell our co-blogger Uncle Smokey I told you this!) With a little smoker box you can make smoked foods on your gas grill! If you like durability, get a cast iron one. Any other material tends to warp over time. If you have a smoker or charcoal fire grill adjust the preparation time accordingly.
One filet of wild salmon will serve X number of people. I plan on 6 ounces per person even though USDA says a serving is 4 ounces. If you only give folks 4 ounces of this delicious fish they may get ornery. Do leave the skin on.
hardwood grilling chips (hickory, apple, or mesquite) – 1 cup
bacon grease or butter – 1/2 cup
sweet onions – 4 or more, sliced into thin rings
garlic – 1 clove cooked with onions or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt – 1 teaspoon
paprika – 1/4 teaspoon
fresh cracked black pepper – 1 teaspoon
mesquite honey – 2 tablespoons – especially use mesquite honey if you use mesquite chips!
For Gas Grill
1) Soak wood chips in water at least 1 1/2 hours prior to grilling.
2) In a large skillet, melt bacon grease over low heat. Add onions, honey, and seasonings.
Cook, stirring frequently, slowly on low temperature until the onions become translucent looking, forming a thick mash or paste. This usually takes around 45 minutes.
3) While onions are cooking, start the grill, when it reaches medium heat add the smoker box with the wet wood chips.
4) The grill should be at around 400 degrees F and have a nice smoke going on inside, add the salmon, skin side down, either on a non-stick fish grilling pan, aluminum foil, or direct on the grates if well oiled to prevent sticking.
Is It Done Yet?
I like my fish just soft when gently poked so that it is just barely done inside. About 10 to 15 minutes, depending on filet thickness. If you like your fish a little more well done grill it until it is hard when gently poked. Pull from grill at your desired doneness and smother with the honey onion paste.
I served this with garden tomatoes and basil with organic feta cheese topped with a balsamic reduction drizzle.
Monica King lives off grid and keeps bees in Southern Arizona. She offers her hone and bee products the Farmers Market in Arivaca in the winter months. She and husband Dan offer King Guide Service.
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