Thoughts from a broken mind
In my opinion I would prefer wild salmon because it just tasted better because it was free to roam. I prefer any free/wild to caged anything, you can just taste the distress in the animal if its caged. Mike G
There are so many wonderful things about salmon that it’s hard to know where to start.
It’s a fish which even people who don’t like fish (e.g., my husband) can enjoy. It’s firm enough to grill, can be cooked in many different ways, and doesn’t dry out as easily as many other fish. It comes fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned. Wild salmon can be eaten without fear of excess contaminants or mercury, and it has a very high nutrient profile, including the highly-prized omega-3 fatty acids. What’s not to like?
Salmon is a highly nutritious food. Of course, it is high in protein, and the “good fats.” But did you know that a 4 oz serving of wild salmon provides a full day’s requirement of vitamin D? It is one of the few foods that can make that claim. That same piece of fish contains over half of the necessary B12, niacin, and selenium, and is an excellent source of B6 and magnesium. Canned salmon also contains large amounts of calcium (due to the bones of the fish).
People who eat fish seem to be protected from a host of conditions. Some of this is probably due to the omega-3 fats, but there may be other benefits apart from this. The science isn’t clear yet as to all the reasons why eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as salmon) seems to be so darned good for us.
Omega-3 fats seem to primarily work through reducing inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is turning out to be at the base of many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancers and arthritis. Omega-3’s also help prevent the blood clots which cause many strokes.
An exciting, fairly recent development is the realization that omega-3 fats have potential to help slow cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. Also, people who have sufficient levels of omega-3’s (especially as compared to omega-6 fats) seem to have less depression and suicide risk, as well as less aggression — in one study, giving prison inmates this type of fat (plus vitamins) reduced aggressive behavior by a third in a mere two weeks.
There is somewhat of a controversy about eating wild vs. farmed salmon. The issues fall into three main categories:
Contamination: Most of the salmon available for human consumption today is farmed, but several independent studies have found concentrations of PCBs and other contaminants at levels of up to 10 times higher in farmed salmon. In Europe, there have even been situations where farmed fished tested at high levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. These contaminants seem to be getting to the fish through the feed, which become concentrated in the oil of the salmon.
Farmed salmon in the U.S. are regulated through the USDA and FDA, which allows much higher levels of these contaminants than are allowed than with wild salmon, which is regulated by the EPA. A common argument about this is that the EPA has reviewed the scientific literature and made new recommendations much more recently than the FDA. FDA regulations have not been updated since 1984, when people in the U.S. were eating much less salmon and other fish. More information about contaminants in farmed salmon.
Omega-3’s: Farmed fish is fattier — much as farm animals are “fattened up,” the same is true of salmon. This means that there are higher levels of omega-3 fats. But there are caveats regarding this:
Environmental Issues: Farmed fish produce a bunch of environmental problems. Read about them at the Seafood Watch site.
But there’s good news. Both wild and farmed salmon have low levels of mercury. Also, salmon is not being over-fished – especially salmon from Alaska is in good shape. More about this from Seafood Watch
Additional Note: Most canned salmon is wild.
Fresh Fish: The rule with all fish is to get it as fresh as possible. It is far preferable to buy fish that has been frozen and recently thawed at the market than to buy fresh fish that has been sitting for a few days. If you are able to see the whole fish, look for clear eyes and clean red or pink gills. If you are able to smell the fish, it should smell like the sea, not “like fish”. Again, these rules are true of all fish.More about choosing salmon, including varieties
The color of the salmon will partly vary by species.Farmed salmon is usually artificially colored: it would be very pale otherwise (the safety of the most common coloring agent has been questioned: it is allowed in the US, but not in some other countries).
Canned salmon: Is almost always wild, and almost always one of the pink-fleshed varieties. Canned salmon is rich in calcium because there are small edible bones in it.
Smoked Salmon: Salmon can also be preserved by smoking it (commonly called “hot smoked), where it is dry cured with salt and spiced and then smoked. Lox and nova salmon is often called smoked, but it really is cured in brine, and not smoked at all.
Being one of the fattier fish, salmon is sturdy, and holds up to a great variety of cooking styles, including grilling, baking, poaching, broiling, or pan-frying. The important thing is not to let it dry out. When using a dry heat method (baking, grilling), cook just until it flakes. This is about 10 minutes for each inch of thickness (on the grill, 5 minutes per side). It does not have to be opaque all the way through to be cooked – it will probably be dry if you wait that long. Linda Larsen, About’s Busy Cooks Guide, brings you lots of ways to cook salmon including using the crockpot and the microwave.
Salmon works with a wide variety of flavors. Whereas more delicate fish becomes overwhelmed with strong flavors, salmon takes to lots of different sauces, rubs, and marinades. You can cover it with a pesto, put it in a Thai curry, or just serve it simply with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Like all fish, it goes well with citrus flavors. Though dill is probably the herb most commonly associated with salmon, almost any fresh herb you can think of tastes wonderful with it.
Since salmon fishing starts in the spring and goes through summer, think of spring vegetables such as asparagus and mushrooms to go with salmon, progressing to almost any combination of summer vegetables.
Here are some of my favorite salmon recipes:
Grilled Dilled Salmon – This is a delicious grilled salmon. Don’t be put off by the mound of dill on it – it collapses with the heat, and makes a lovely green “mat” on top of the salmon. Guests always comment on this dish.
Oven-Baked Salmon with Herbs - This technique for baking fish – low and slow – is something of a miracle. It bakes right on the platter you will serve it on, and retains its moisture beautifully.
Salmon with Tangy Glaze - The tangy glaze on this salmon is sweet and spicy, and works very well with the rich taste of salmon. I like it for grilled salmon, but it works for baked salmon as well.
Crustless Smoked Salmon Quiche – I use canned smoked salmon for this elegant quiche. Regular canned salmon, or smoked salmon from a package, would be fine, too.
Salmon Salad – An Alternative to Tuna - three times the Omega-3 fat, a full day’s supply of vitamin D, and many more nutrients than tuna. Give it a try!
Leftover salmon can be used in lots of ways. Put in on top of a green salad. Put it in an omelet or other egg dish. Make salmon cakes or croquettes. Just try to use it up within two or three days.
This I below am going to try. Mike G
This cooking technique is something of a miracle. The fish bakes at a low heat right on the platter you will serve it on. No pans to wash! You will know it is done when the fish flakes, but it doesn’t change color as much because it keeps its moisture — no more dried-out fish! And it is so flavorful!
3. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until salmon flakes. You won’t believe how good it is. I usually serve it with a sort of homemade tartar sauce mixing mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, some of the same herb I used on the fish, capers, and a very small amount of hot sauce. I do it to taste, but I’ll figure out a recipe soon and link it.