Whether you prize sockeye salmon because it's local to your region or are just a fan of its red flesh and firm texture, you have many of options for cooking this nutritious fish. One of them is baked sockeye salmon, a healthy method that lets this West Coast native's rich taste really shine.
Prepping That Sockeye
The best baked salmon recipe in the world is, obviously, open to interpretation. When it comes to choosing a sockeye salmon recipe for the oven, the two broad categories include a simple preparation, or one in which the salmon is encased in crust. No matter your preference, most recipes share a few basic strategies.
Before cooking the salmon, run your hand gently across the surface, to detect any tiny bones, known as pin bones. Remove any you find with tweezers. This is a sensible technique, even if your local seafood source normally removes the bones.
No matter which sockeye salmon recipe for the oven you use, set your timer based on the "10-minute rule," in which you find your total cooking time by adding 10 minutes for each 1 inch of the fish's thickness at its highest point. You'll know the fish is properly cooked when its flesh flakes if a fork is inserted and gently twisted.
Read more: How to Make Salmon Less Fishy Before Cooking
Baked Sockeye Salmon, Two Ways
If you're using a sockeye salmon recipe for the oven without a crust, as in our Baked Salmon recipe, keeping the salmon skin on while baking will help retain moisture. This is the best move to make if you're not encrusting your fish.
- Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Give the salmon a quick rinse in cold water and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Generously coat the bottom of the baking dish with olive oil.
- Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down in the baking dish.
- Season the top of the salmon with generous amounts of salt and pepper.
- Drizzle additional olive oil over the top of the salmon.
- Put in the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the salmon's thickness.
Cooking sockeye salmon fillets inside a coating delivers a "fried fish" crunch without the extra fat and empty calories associated with deep-frying a white flour batter. The American Heart Association suggests using a mixture of oatmeal and almonds for the crust. If you prefer breadcrumbs, whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko are the healthier options, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Give the salmon a quick rinse in cold water and then pat it dry with paper towels.
- Remove the skin from the salmon.
- Brush the salmon with a liquid, such as olive oil, lemon juice or buttermilk.
- Dredge the salmon in a shallow bowl of panko bread crumbs or a mixture of 2 parts uncooked oatmeal to 1 part sliced almonds and dried herbs.
- Generously coat the bottom of the baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
- Set the covered salmon into the baking dish.
- Put in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the salmon's thickness.
Enjoying Sockeye Salmon’s Benefits
Like other salmon types, sockeye salmon is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. A 6-ounce fillet of sockeye salmon has 265 calories and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, according to the USDA.
The remaining fat content, about 8 grams worth, comprises "good" fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. You'll also get 45 grams of protein and large amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. This serving also supplies at least 10 percent of the potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin E you need for the day.
If you're watching your calories and sticking to 3-ounce protein servings, the UDSA charts indicate that this serving size contains 133 calories and less than 1 gram of saturated fat. It also provides 22 grams of protein.
Read more: Is Fish or Chicken a Better Protein?
So, how does the sockeye stack up to other salmon types? Oregon State University's Seafood Network Information Center notes that sockeye salmon is higher in protein than other salmon types, both wild-caught and farmed.
For the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids per calorie, you may want to select farmed Atlantic salmon, which has 1 gram more in each 100-gram serving and 10 fewer calories. In general, however, sockeye salmon is also lower in saturated fat than many other types of fish and otherwise has a similar nutritional profile.
The best baked salmon recipe in the world will ultimately depend on your own tastes. Cube the cooked salmon and toss it with whole-grain noodles and vegetables for a one-bowl meal that's full of nutrients. Or place it on a bed of healthy ingredients, as in our Arugula Salad With Salmon and Avocado and Baked Fish With Brown Rice and Veggies dishes.
- Oregon State Seafood Network: "Farmed or Wild?"
- Splendid Table: "Salmon Roasted in Butter"
- Virginia Seafood: "Cooking Finned Fish"
- Epicurious: "Baked Sockeye Salmon"
- American Heart Association: "Crunchy-Crusted Salmon Fillets"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fish - Baking Not Frying"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Cooked Sockeye Salmon"
- University of Michigan: "Sockeye Salmon"