One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers

This one-pan wild caught sockeye salmon recipe is perfect for quick weekday meals and bursting with is nourishing flavors and seasonal ingredients that will quickly make it a new go-to recipe for your weekly dinner rotation.

One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers - The Well Essentials - Sustainable Fishing

You know a recipe is really good when it remains a favorite all the way through childhood and into adulthood — and this recipe is one of those special ones.

Growing up I would always ask my mom to make this salmon dish on my birthday, and today it is one of our favorites to make for easy weeknight meals, or when guests come for dinner. While we don't eat a lot of salmon because I would rather choose less popular, wild-caught local options to support our local fish industry, sometimes salmon is just what you're in the mood for.

But since there are many different types of salmon to choose from (and not all are created equal) I thought it would be helpful to go over how you can choose the most sustainable fish at the fish market, and what the difference really is between farm-raised and wild caught salmon.

One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers - The Well Essentials - Healthy Recipes

How To Choose Sustainable Salmon

Growing up in a fishing town I was always acutely aware of how fish got from the oceans I grew up on to our table at home. As kids, my Dad would take my sisters and I to see the fishermen roll in with their daily catch, and we learned pretty early on just how fortunate we were to grow up so close to the ocean, and how important fishing was for our small community.

Being so closely connected to our fishing industry in this way also really made me value not only where our fish was coming from, but how it was caught, and who it was supporting. But I know that not everyone is going to grow up in a fishing town, which is why I am thrilled that today the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program is making it easier than ever for people to become more aware and educated where their fish comes from, how it is being produced, and the impact it is having on the environment.

So when it comes to choosing the most sustainable salmon option for your dinners at home or out in restaurants I would highly recommend becoming familiar with the Seafood Watch website and mobile app.

Designed and operated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Seafood Watch initiative researches and monitors the way that fish and seafood are being produced or caught, and makes the information easily accessible to consumers so that more people can make educated seafood choices that have the lowest impact on the planet.

Farm Raised or Wild Caught?

There are many differing opinions in regards to the environmental sustainability and health impacts of farm-raised versus wild caught fish, and salmon is at the very top of the conversation.

For over 50 years, salmon has been being farm raised in countries like Norway and is currently being farmed in the United States, Chile, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. But, while farm-raised salmon may seem like a no-brainer solution to meeting consumption demands while protecting wild salmon, the reality isn't quite as simple.

Research has shown that farmed salmon differ in nutritional value from wild salmon specifically in regards to their omega-3 fatty acid profile, which is directly impacted by the diet the salmon is feeding on and impacts both the salmons color, flavor, and nutritional density.

Often farmed salmon are fed a vegetarian diet that is not necessarily rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which impacts the total fatty acid profile of the salmon in the long-run. This is why farmed salmon often also requiresf artificial coloring to achieve the light pink color you see at the supermarket otherwise farmed salmon would actually look grey!

From an environmental perspective, farmed salmon fisheries have also been found to be damaging to surrounding marine eco-systems and are even having a negative impact on the health of native wild salmon. However, there are some farmed salmon producers who have gone to great lengths to address these known issues in the farmed fishing industry and are creating a sustainable option for farming salmon that not only protects the surrounding marine ecosystems but also provides a similar nutritional density to that of wild salmon.

But how are you supposed to know which salmon has been farmed responsibly and which hasn't?

It's best to ask where your salmon has been produced and what sustainability standards (if any) are associated with the salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch also has a great list for which farmed salmon has been produced sustainably, and what eco-certifications to look out for.

Ideally, it is best to opt for wild-caught salmon, or choose a sustainably produced farm-raised option that has been approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. If neither of these two options are possible, I would highly recommend avoiding farmed salmon that has not been raised responsibly and opt for another type of fish entirely!

One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers - The Well Essentials - Sustainable Fishing

Different Types Of Salmon

In the United States, there are six different types of salmon which you will commonly see being sold either fresh, frozen, canned, or smoked. Of these six types of salmon, five are wild caught and one is primarily farm raised (Atlantic) due to overfishing.

When it comes to choosing the most sustainable salmon option for you, it is great to know where each type of salmon comes from and how they are caught or farmed so that you can make the most educated choice for consumption.

Atlantic salmon

Most of the salmon consumed in the United States is farm-raised salmon from the Atlantic (Canada, Chile, and Norway). Commercial fishing for wild Atlantic salmon is not allowed in the United States after the wild Atlantic salmon populations decreased to an extremely low level in the early-2000s when they were listed as endangered. When choosing a farmed Atlantic salmon it is always best to check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and opt for one that has been sustainably raised using appropriate environmental and health practices.

Pink salmon

Pink salmon is harvested in Alaska and is mostly what you will find in canned salmon.

Sockeye salmon

Sockeye salmon is mainly wild-caught in Alaska and sold in the United States either fresh, frozen, or canned. This salmon is a sustainable option for those who live on the Atlantic, but who still want to purchase wild-caught salmon.

Chum salmon

Chum salmon is another type of salmon that is wild-caught in Alaska by United States fishermen and is sustainably managed. Chum salmon does have a lower oil content than sockeye or king salmon, which gives it an overall lighter color and flavor.

Coho salmon

Coho salmon is mostly caught in Alaska but is also imported into the United States from Pacific Canada and Chile. It is most commonly found being sold fresh or frozen.

Chinook (King) salmon

Chinook or King salmon are caught in the Pacific waters of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and in smaller quantities in California. This type of salmon is deep red in color and most similar to wild-sockeye salmon in flavor.

For more information on salmon and choosing the most sustainable option, simply click here and type in the type of salmon you are considering buying to see how it is ranked by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and read through their list of best options for purchase.

With this information in hand, you can not only make more sustainable seafood choices at your local fish market but also advocate for more sustainable fish sourcing in your own community.

How To Cook Salmon In The Oven

Now let’s get on to this recipe! Now that you have chosen a sustainable salmon it’s time to cook it to perfection! Salmon really is one of the easiest types of fish to cook (which makes it great for new cooks) and is best served with simple ingredients that show off the salmon's natural flavor.

Step One:

To cook salmon, begin by preheating the oven to 425 degrees F and lay a piece of aluminum foil over a large baking sheet. Lightly coat the aluminum foil with olive oil and then place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet.

Step Two:

Coat the salmon with a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkle with a little lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper.

Step Three:

Depending on the thickness of your salmon, bake in the oven for ~15 minutes, or until the thickest part of your salmon has cooked through. The color of the salmon should turn to a more opaque pink and the salmon should easily flake when cut with a fork or knife.

Step Four:

Remember you can always cook your fish more so it is best to check your salmon to see if it is cooked sooner than later (because no one likes dry, overcooked salmon).

One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers - Sustainable Fish

One-Pan Sockeye Salmon Recipe With Red Onion And Capers


  • 1 pound wild caught sockeye salmon

  • 1 bunch of asparagus (ends removed)

  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup white basmati rice

  • Sea Salt

  • Black Pepper

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup capers

  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and bring 1 cup of water to boil in a small pot on the stove.

  • Once water is boiling add rice to the pot and reduce heat to a simmer.

  • Cook rice for ~30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is soft and fluffy.

  • Next, line a large baking sheet with tin foil and lightly coat the foil with olive oil before placing the salmon skin side down in the center of the baking sheet.

  • Place asparagus around the salmon and sprinkle chopped garlic over the asparagus.

  • Lightly drizzle asparagus and salmon with olive oil, rolling the asparagus over until each stem is lightly coated.

  • Next, squeeze the juice of one lemon over the salmon and asparagus, and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  • Place baking sheet in the oven and cook for ~15 minutes, flipping the asparagus halfway through using a metal spatula.

  • While the salmon and asparagus are cooking, mix together the topping by combining chopped red onion, capers, and olive oil in a small bowl.

  • Once asparagus is slightly softened and salmon is cooked through, remove from oven and plate over a bed of basmati white rice.

  • Top the salmon with the red onion and caper topping, and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.

  • Serve immediately and enjoy! This meal also pairs well with a dry riesling or sauvignon blanc.