Easy Peasy and Absolutely Delish Salmon Kebabs

Fish is one of those things that we hear we should add to our diets. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fish is an excellent source of heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and selenium, is high in protein and low in saturated fat. They recommend eating one to two three-ounce servings of fish a week. Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies or sardines are particularly beneficial.

Unfortunately, we also hear that some types of fish are full of mercury or PCBs and other seafood is endangered of being over fished.

It’s hard to keep track of all of it. To help sort it out, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Super Green list of seafood that is both healthy for you and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. To make the list, fish must have low levels of contaminants, a minimum of 250 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids and be well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of choices on this list. According to the guide, as of May 2010, the Best of the Best is Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia), Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.), Mussels (farmed), Oysters (farmed), Pacific Sardines (wild-caught), Rainbow Trout (farmed), Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska).

They also include a list of second best choices. These fish contain less omega-3 fatty acids than their top picks. This list includes Arctic Char (farmed), Bay Scallops (farmed), Crayfish (farmed, from the U.S.), Dungeness Crab (wild-caught, from California, Oregon or Washington), Longfin Squid (wild-caught, from the U.S. Atlantic), Pacific Cod (longline-caught, from Alaska)

Local Ocean, in Hudson, NY, has come up with an innovative solution to both over-fishing and environmental contamination. It uses a closed salt-water system and raises fish that are both sustainable and pollutant free. I like that. They currently sell to restaurants, but I’m told they will open a retail outlet this fall. I’ll be waiting by the door.

Until they open, I will be consulting my guide and buying fish on the Super Green List. When buying fish, if you don’t see the origin listed, ask. You don’t want to end up with farm raised Atlantic salmon when you are looking for wild caught Alaskan salmon, now do you?

Salmon is a nice firm fish and excellent for kebabs. Kebabs are one of my favorite ways to cook food on the grill. Just about anything you can skewer, you can grill. Some things, like garlic, are tricky. You have to pick large cloves so they don’t split open when you stab them. With softer items, like tomatoes, be sure to cut big pieces. Cherry tomatoes work great on kebabs. My new favorite thing to kebab is fruit.

Pancetta Salmon Kebabs on Arugula

My sister-in-law Tori calls these “Easy Peasy and Absolutely Delish Kebabs.” I have to agree. She modified the recipe from Sunset Magazine. I tweaked it a bit more.

You’ll need eight skewers (two per serving). If you are using wooden ones, be sure to soak them in water for a couple of hours to prevent the whole thing from catching on fire!


5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, divided
1 1/2 pounds skinned salmon filet (wild caught, Alaskan preferred)
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
3 teaspoons chopped parsley
4 cups arugula, washed and dried


  • Combine 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, garlic and salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Set dressing aside.
  • Cut salmon into one-inch chunks.
  • Prepare grill for high heat (450° to 550F°).
  • In a large bowl, combine remaining tablespoon of oil with remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add salmon to bowl and gently mix to thoroughly coat.
  • Wrap each salmon cube with pancetta, then skewer each wrapped chunk.
  • Oil cooking grate, using tongs and a wad of oiled paper towels. Set kebabs on grate and grill covered, turning once, until salmon is barely cooked through, about four minutes total.
  • Toss arugula in dressing and divide onto four plates.
  • Set two kebabs on the arugula bed and serve.