Salmon: The Ultimate Bipolar Fish
When my wife Sophy and I go to a mall together, she will predictably start salivating over the designer handbags. One look at a Kate Spade, and she is "lost" to me. Most guys would find a bench to chill out, but I simply tell her to meet me in Williams-Sonoma.
Williams-Sonoma is to the kitchen what Gucci is to fashion. I love wandering around in the shop drooling over the All-Clad copper core 14-piece cookware set ($2,355) or the Le Creuset 12-piece cast iron cookware set in beautiful lemongrass green ($1,430). If I want to get out of the store for a mere ten bucks, there’s a small jar of French sea salt, harvested from Ile de Re. Not just any Ile, you’ll note. Ile de Re. There’s also a rough pink salt mined from the Himalayan foothills (now you see why I love this shop).
Last night, Sophy splurged for a special treat - a cooking class at our local Williams-Sonoma. The main dish was salmon baked in parchment with chopped tomato, scallion, and marjoram. Anne, our instructor, was especially helpful with fine points of knife technique, storage of leafy herbs, squeezing lemons, and all and sundry. I’m definitely on for another class, and I managed to leave the store having run up a mere one hundred dollar tab (this wasn’t just any lemon zester I bought, mind you).
Salmon is the ultimate bipolar fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the "good fat" that is both heart and brain healthy. The results are by no means definitive, but various small studies have found omega-3 to be effective as a complement to meds in treating both unipolar depression and bipolar depression. You want wild Pacific salmon rather than farm-raised salmon. This is because omega-3 travels up the food chain. The grain they feed to farm-raised salmon contains no omega-3. The wild salmon is about twice the price, but well worth the investment.
I like my salmon grilled or pan-fried with a blackened crust and something on top.
McMan’s Grilled Salmon BipolairÃª
Rub olive oil into two quarter-pound salmon fillets or your favorite cut of salmon, about an inch thick. Some cuts have skin on one side. I prefer mine with no skin. Salt on both sides with either Ile de Re or pink Himalayan (just kidding - kosher salt works well for me). Add some freshly-ground pepper and some of your favorite dry rub (lemon pepper or barbecue work particularly well). I like to build up my "crust" by shaking on and patting in some dried Italian herbs.
Get your oiled frying pan or griller nice and hot, and plop on the salmon so it sizzles, then turn down the heat. Don’t move the fish for at least five minutes. A premature move and the fish will stick to the pan. After about five minutes you can flip it and grill for another five minutes or so, longer if necessary. Watch very carefully and test the fish periodically by slicing into it. Eating overcooked salmon is like trying to ingest particle board and nowhere near as tasty.
When you remove the salmon from the heat you should have a gorgeous blackened crust that is a delight to crunch into. I serve it over a bed of rice or risotto, then pour the juices over the top and add a dab of light butter or margarine. Salmon has a very strong flavor, so many people like to go with some kind of topping to contrast the taste, such as a lightly-flavored no-fat mayo-based sauce, or a berry sauce. The other day, I hit upon the perfect complement - chopped avocado. The ultimate resolution of opposites on the palate, the ultimate experience bipolairÃª
As well as the rice, serve with asparagus, salad, and a dark and chewy peasant bread. Bon appetit!
John is an author and advocate for Mental Health. He wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Depression and Bipolar Disorder.