In Latin America, fish are baked in banana leaves. In France, they are baked in parchment (en papillote). Home cooks anywhere can easily adapt this technique, which seals in moisture and flavor, using aluminum foil. Salmon is a good choice for this way of cooking.

By adding a few vegetables you have a whole meal in a packet - easily put together without messing up the stove top, pretty to look at and delicious to eat. As an added bonus, it's good for you.

Salmon is a particularly good source of omega-3 fat, a polyunsaturated fat with two major benefits - it doesn't raise blood cholesterol, and it seems to have health-promoting powers that lower the risk of heart disease and possibly cancer. Only certain fish are a good source of omega-3 fats: salmon, mackerel, herring, white (albacore) tuna and sardines. Whatever type is selected, fish is always an excellent choice for good nutrition. Of course, the preparation must be healthful too - not deep-fat fried, slathered in butter, or covered in cream sauce.

When buying salmon, there is often a choice between farm-raised and wild, as well as between Pacific and Atlantic varieties. Atlantic salmon is always farm-raised. It is also mostly grain-fed, which produces a fish that is moister and fattier than Pacific salmon. Atlantic salmon is farmed in Chile, Western Canada and Washington State, as well as in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Most Pacific salmon is from Alaska and available in a number of varieties.

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The following recipe creates a dish special enough for company but easy enough for every-day meals.

Oven-Baked Salmon with Snow Peas

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Makes four servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 small leeks, white and pale part chopped fine
  • 2 large carrots, cut into julienne strips (width of matchsticks)
  • 1/2 lb. snow peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 salmon steaks or fillets (4-6 oz each)
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Tear four large sheets (18x12-inch) of heavy-duty aluminum foil and lay out on table or counter.
  2. Place one-fourth each of leeks, carrots and snow peas on each sheet of foil. Place a piece of salmon on top of each mound of vegetables. Sprinkle one-fourth of the ginger and drizzle one-fourth of the vinegar and one-fourth teaspoon oil over each piece of fish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Double-fold foil and seal tightly, to form four packets. (Leave enough room in packet for heat to circulate.) Place packets on cookie sheet and bake about 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse spinach leaves and place in large bowl or platter that will fit microwave oven. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook in microwave at high power 3-4 minutes, checking every minute or so to make sure spinach is tender but not over-cooked. Place one-fourth of spinach in center of each of 4 plates, making a flat bed.
  5. When salmon is cooked, open packets carefully to allow steam to escape without scalding. Transfer contents of each packet to top of bed of spinach on each plate.

Nutritional Information Per serving:
333 calories
17 g. total fat (3 g. saturated fat)
17 g. carbohydrate
28 g. protein
6 g. dietary fiber
185 mg. sodium


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