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How Do I Choose the Best Salmon Marinade?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 17, 2024
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Even some excellent cooks are nervous about cooking fish such as salmon, despite the proven health benefits of consuming omega-3 fish oils. Allowing fish such as salmon steaks or fillets a brief swim in a well-composed marinade will put those fears to bed. The best salmon marinades can be purchased or easily created in the home kitchen by using wine, vinegar, or citrus in combination with a little oil and some herbs or other flavor enhancers.

Marinades are assigned dual purposes. Even noncooks know they add layers of flavor from simple to highly complex to meats, fish, and vegetables. In addition to enhancing flavors, marinades also help tenderize by breaking down the connective tissue and tough fibers in foods. Salmon requires only a brief soak to absorb the marinade’s flavors. Allowing the salmon to marinate for longer will actually begin to cook the fish and result in a mushy meal.

Combining vinegar with a little oil and some chopped fresh or dried herbs creates an excellent basic salmon marinade. Vinegar that has been infused with fruit such as figs works well. Some cooks prefer to stick with a single herbal note, while others like to combine two or more herbs for a more complex flavor.

Fans of ginger will be happy to know that salmon is the perfect companion. Minced ginger, a splash of white wine, and a little melted butter or oil produces a moist, flavorful fish. This salmon marinade can also benefit from a little minced garlic as well as some fresh or dried herbs.

Salmon also does very well in a marinade that is soy based. Adding a little dried or wet mustard and a squirt of lemon or lime brightens the flavor. This salmon marinade can handle a little minced garlic, and ginger is always welcome as well. A little honey helps coat the salmon and balances the strong soy flavor.

While many types of fish are too delicate to take on strong flavors, salmon has enough personality to be able to handle even curry. This marinade begins with a combination of orange juice and oil to which a small amount of dried or jarred curry is added. Basil works very well as an herbal note in this salmon marinade. Coconut milk or yogurt can substitute for the orange juice in this one, together with a squeeze of lime, for an exceptionally moist fish.

Whatever type of marinade the home cook selects, it’s important to remember that only a few minutes are required for the marinade to do its work. After marinating, the fish is ready for the grill. Using a cedar plank adds yet another flavor. Alternatively, the salmon can be broiled or wrapped in parchment paper or foil and steamed.

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