Fit & fishy: lemon pepper salmon

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the Basic Needs Initiative program teamed up for their weekly hands-on food demonstrations, “Cooking with CSUMB.” The virtual event was held on Oct. 29 and featured a mouthwatering recipe on how to prepare lemon pepper salmon. 

Student Engagement and Leadership Development (SELD) Director Marco Dowell engaged hungry Otters through his tutorial on a healthy, yet simple meal that is guaranteed to curb those hangry moments. 

“I was a child of the 1960s,” Dowel said. “The only salmon I ate as a child came out of a can.”

Dowell informed viewers that his inspiration for creating the lemon pepper salmon dish was curated from the help of his grandma and a young student along his teaching career. Reflecting on the salmon patties and similar to crab cakes that Dowell’s grandma was infamous for whipping up in the kitchen, Dowell was intrigued when seeing a young student eat a WingStop Lemon Pepper Chicken Wing. He then wondered what the flavor explosion would be like if tried with the nutritious fish.

In addition to seasoning the salmon with lemon pepper, Dowell recommends increasing the taste with the help of Lawry’s seasoned salt, smoked paprika, a hint of cayenne pepper for spice and Old Bay seasoning.

Helping keep taste buds and palettes diverse, Dowell accompanied his fish with sides of green beans and broccoli. While Dowell is not a fan of broccoli himself, he recognizes the importance of keeping meals inclusive to satisfy a range of appetites.

“Salmon will go in the broiler,” Dowell said. “We’ll have the broccoli steaming and the green beans in water, also steaming but in a different way, and of course, rice.”

Dowell suggested that viewers start cooking the rice before anything else, as it takes the longest time. Any rice will accompany this dish nicely as a side, however Dowell prefers to use basmati for the flavor and health benefits.

Moving on the salmon preparation, Dowell removed the skin from the bottom of the salmon by gliding a knife from one corner, lifting the skin up, pulling and ripping away all in one swift, safe process.

“If you’re uncomfortable removing the skin yourself, you can cook it on both sides,” Dowell said. “The skin will char and then it’s easier to remove before eating.”

If the salmon comes in a longer piece than average portion sizes, Dowell recommends cutting it accordingly before cooking in the oven on the broiler setting. Hungry Otters can expect the salmon to cook for roughly 10 minutes depending on size.

While the rice cooked, Dowell chopped a head of broccoli and threw it in a stockpot cut to similar sizes of the green beans. Once the rice was 10 minutes away from being complete, Dowell threw the salmon into the preheated oven, started cooking the broccoli and prepared the green beans in a cast iron skillet which took approximately seven minutes to cook.

“If you didn’t remove the skin of the salmon before cooking, now is the time,” Dowell said. “Flip the salmon halfway through cooking, remove the skin and place back into the oven for an additional few minutes.”

Dowell removed the salmon, rice and broccoli from the heat at the same time, while the green beans worked their magic on finalizing their cooking. The end result? A delicious, flaky and all around nutritious meal that packs a protein punch and doesn’t break the bank.

After the cooking demonstration, a handful of lucky Otters were chosen to receive the weekly $25 e-gift cards used to help students purchase groceries. One lucky Otter was the winner of an Instant Pot. Join Cooking with CSUMB on Nov. 5 with Dr. Leslie Williams, as she guides students through the recipes of Breakfast Pizza and No-Bake Cookies.

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