Wondering what to serve with your wild Alaskan salmon? We've gathered 17 of our favorite side dishes for you that will add textures, colors, flavors and even more nutrients to that healthy serving of salmon you're cooking up!
With our 37 years setnet fishing in Bristol Bay, we’ve enjoyed hundreds of great salmon meals. Premium quality sockeye salmon that's been handled with care doesn’t need to be dressed up much. Just a little salt, olive oil, and lemon bring out its rich, natural flavor. But a great side dish can complement that succulent salmon fillet and add further interest and nutrition to your meal. Here are 17 of our family favorites to make every one of your sockeye salmon meals deliciously memorable.
1. Grilled Vegetables
If you’re grilling salmon steaks, it's easy to grill up some vegetables, too. Besides being nutritious, veggies provide an appealing variety of colors and tastes to your salmon entre. Grilling caramelizes the sugars that are found naturally in vegetables, satisfying your sweet tooth (or at least ours)! Zucchini, red peppers, purple onions, yellow squash, eggplant, cauliflower steaks - so many possibilities. Our crew grills up whatever vegetables we have on hand, and if there are ever any leftovers, you can bet we toss them in our soups and salads, omelets and casseroles.
2. Greek Lemon-roasted Baby Potatoes
Succulent seasonings spice up these baby potatoes, making them a perfect complement to your salmon dish. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these zesty potatoes, infused with lemon, garlic and herbs, are appealing, quick to prepare and delicious.
Consider baking your salmon fillets at the same time - only not as long. If you time it right and delay putting your salmon in the oven until the last five or so minutes (check your recipe), the baked wild salmon and roasted potatoes will both come out at the same time, piping hot and ready to serve.
3. Harvest Salad with Quinoa and Arugula
Sounds exotic, looks enticing, tastes incredible! Besides that, it’s ridiculously healthy. Although you’ll be eating it because it’s crunchy, sweet, tart, spicy and delicious, you’ll be happy to know it’s rich in protein, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and essential amino acids. (And of course there’s a study that shows that if you eat quinoa every day, it’ll do wonderful things for your body. So make lots and eat the leftovers!)
You can make this salad ahead of time, which is an extra bonus. Here are some of the enticing ingredients that'll make it a family favorite and a holiday hit: quinoa, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, basil and mint, lemon juice and baby arugula. Making salmon is simple when you have the best quality sockeye salmon, so you can afford to fuss a little bit to prepare this scrumptious side of salad.
4. Sweet Potato Fries
Just slice ‘em up and spice ‘em up and they’re ready to pop in the oven. Crispy, nutritious and delicious, sweet potato fries look so inviting sitting on a plate next to your salmon entrée. But not for long . . . they’ll disappear in no time! This recipe for fries is actually introduced by a bonus recipe for crispy pecan-crusted salmon (with great accompanying how-to photos), so if you haven’t yet decided how to fix your salmon portions, try this!
5. Broccoli (Bacon/Craisin) Salad
This is one of those classic favorites that gets eaten immediately at any potluck or family gathering, and we love it at fish camp. It’s no wonder - the flavors are bright and crunchy, surprising and satisfying. Just mix broccoli, bacon, almonds, craisins and onions with a bit of tangy/sweet dressing - and you have a winner! Its complexity goes perfectly with an unadorned serving of perfectly pan-fried salmon.
6. Green Beans Almondine
Green beans almondine . . . This dish is as fun and delicious to eat as it is to say. Regular fresh green beans work fine, but the French green beans (haricot vert - also fun to say: AIR ee co VARE) are said to be more tender, slender and long(er). You can often find them in one-pound packages in the produce section labeled French Green Beans - or even, Haricot Vert.
We love these bright colored beans sautéed with brown butter, shallots and garlic, kissed with lemon juice and topped with toasted almonds. (As a time saver, toast the almonds a day ahead. But be sure to make a double batch, because everyone’s bound to nibble on them!) The color combo of green beans with red salmon is gorgeous, too.
7. Lemon Butter Pasta
Just reading this inviting, elegant recipe will make your mouth water. Mmmm - angel hair pasta cooked al dente, mixed with melted butter, lemon zest and juice, and sprinkled with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Perfectly simple. Simply perfect. Goes well with baked, fried, grilled or steamed wild salmon - we speak from experience!
8. Cabbage Slaw
Purple cabbage is a must for this attractive salad - but that’s about the only required ingredient. Check your crisper for what’s at hand: broccoli, turnips, carrots, beets, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, radishes? Use them all! Just chop into small pieces. Or give your salad a running start with one of those slaw mixes you can find at your favorite grocery store, then augment it with your extras. Whatever you choose, it’ll be irresistible topped with the Asian Slaw Dressing. Succulent and tangy, this salad is the perfect taste and visual partner for baked or fried wild salmon.
9. Hasselback Potatoes
Never heard of them? Neither had we . . . until we did! They’re eye-catching, mouth-watering and soul-satisfying. Just take medium-sized potatoes, make small, parallel cuts in them width-wise, add butter, bake them, then remove and slide cheese slices between all the cuts and bake again. They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and smothered with whatever great tastes you want to add. You really have to look at the pictures to understand the full glory of these “Hasselbacken” - the Swedish restaurant where they originated - potatoes! If your family loves baked potatoes, they’ll love these. And with healthy wild sockeye salmon on the plate, you won’t feel so guilty!
10. Microwave Asparagus
Asparagus always pairs well with salmon, and it’s quick to fix in the microwave. Never tried that? You’ll be delighted with this foolproof way to prepare asparagus so it’s tender and delicious. During the three minutes it’s cooking, look in your fridge or pantry to find something to dress it up with. We like melted butter, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of parmesan. But you might want to try a dollop of sour cream, or some poppy seed or Italian dressing. Asparagus is a winner with wild caught salmon, and dressed up a bit, nobody will know how ridiculously easy it was to prepare.
11. One-Pot Rich Lemon Rice
Think risotto meets carbonara meets rice pudding. This ingenious recipe has the creamy texture of all three, thanks to the eggs, parmesan and butter, with a lemony tang and a cayenne kick thrown in for interest. Arborio rice is usually used, but basmati and jasmine are good substitutes. Although a perfect side dish for wild Alaskan salmon, with its silky texture and lemony aroma, it qualifies as a comfort food all on its own. Midnight snack, anyone?
12. Blueberry Walnut Salad
The colors in this salad neighbor-up beautifully with that sockeye salmon serving. Combine crisp greens of your choice, fresh blueberries, toasted walnuts and creamy feta cheese. Now add a splash of rosy raspberry vinaigrette, and you have the picture of good health in full color!
Want the most bang for your bite? Wild-caught salmon, plus the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber found in this salad, will fire up your taste buds and fuel up your family. Not sure fuel-up is a phrase, but it should be!
13. Roasted Zucchini with Parmesan
These lightly toasted, slightly crispy, parmesan cheesy, four-ingredient delights will disappear like - well, like these! So make lots. Sprinkle a big bowlful of zucchini slices with fresh parmesan gratings, dust with garlic powder and coat with olive oil. That’s it. Pop in the oven at a crispy temperature of 450 F° for five minutes or so, then watchfully toast them under the broiler until they’re browned to perfection. They’ll jazz up your wild salmon dinner like only zzucchini can!
14. Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill
This refreshing, crunchy salad is the perfect partner for your smooth, flaky wild salmon dish. English cucumbers or other soft-skin cukes keep their skins on for this salad, adding eye appeal, nutrients and crunch. Sour cream or yogurt lend creaminess, and dill and lemon juice pop up the flavor. You can keep your salad this elegantly simple, as Martha Stewart does, or add red onion slices, bacon, parmesan cheese or baby tomatoes - as your kitchen spirit moves you.
15. Ramen and Snow Peas
This super-simple, economical and tasty Ramen and Snow Peas dish goes well with wild salmon cooked any way you’d like it. Just trim up some fresh snow peas, sauté them in oil or butter with a little ginger and garlic, and stir them into your cooked ramen. In less than five minutes, you’ll have an elegant side dish to accompany your salmon entrée. Glazed salmon is simply pan-fried salmon with an exotic (hoisin) topping. Busy families will love this quick midweek pick-me-upper. Easy peasy!
16. Haute Grilled Avocados
Grilled avocados? You bet! Fast, unique, versatile and delicious. And if you’re already grilling wild salmon, why not?! Cut them in half, remove the pit, place on the grill fruit-side down (yup, they’re technically fruits) and you’re basically done. In just a few minutes they’ll be infused with a wonderful smoky flavor. Delicious served straight from the grill, or dressed up with lemon juice and salt, or with a dollop of salsa or your favorite dressing. Fun and impressive!
As a side note, avocados are one of the few fruits that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats - the “good fats” - which help lower undesirable LDL cholesterol. But who thinks about that when they taste so good!
17. Fresh Fruit Salad
Fresh strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, mangoes, oranges, grapes - a satisfying beginning for a delicious salad. But for a memorable salad - a salad that makes you stop and say, "Wait! What's in this?!" you need create this special, three-ingredient dressing. It's simply made with fresh-squeezed orange juice, freshly zested lemon peel, and honey. But oh, how your taste buds will quiver! Then top this delectable salad with toasted sesame seeds and cashews, and you'll have started a tradition. We know!
Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and shines equally as the star of a backyard barbecue, an elegant dinner party, or a Friday Fish Night. Along with one of these great side dishes, you'll have the recipe for a perfect meal!