Foods You Should Know: Salmon

Salmon is one of my favourite kinds of fish to eat. It’s a dense, oily, rich species of fish but not all kinds of Salmon are equal. Today’s Foods You Should Know will talk about all things Salmon.

Types of Salmon:

The term Salmon derives from the latin Salmo which means to jump, there are nine species of fish commonly recognized as Salmon. Seven of them are closely related and two are kind of odd balls that get the name Salmon but really don’t share much with the seven core species.

The seven core species:

Chinook Salmon

Chum Salmon

Coho Salmon

Pink Salmon

Sockeye Salmon

Steelhead Trout

Masu Salmon

The Two Associated Species.

Atlantic Salmon

Danube Salmon

The seven core species have much darker coloured meat, with denser oilier characteristics. They are generally considered better flavoured fish, that taste better, with much more nutritional value. Steelhead Trout is kind of a strange addition as most people don’t see it as a Salmon. But the species is actually genetically much closer to tout than their exclusively fresh water dwelling namesakes. The Atlantic Salmon is a commonly used salmon because they are easy to farm raise but their quality is much lower than the more proper salmon, but we will get more into that in the next section.

Farm Raised vs Wild

Many people don’t know what exactly they are eating when they eat fish. Much of what you buy from your super market isn’t just questionable when it comes to freshness. It’s also questionable when it comes to the methods of their production. Factory farming doesn’t just apply to livestock.  The atlantic salmon you get in the supermarket is farm raised. The flesh of the fish is a light pink* and the density of the meat is much less. Farm raised fish are also more likely to suffer from disease because they are penned much to close to each other so large amounts of antibiotics must be used to keep them healthy and growing.  It has been observed that the amount of dioxin and PCBs in farmed salmon is at times 8 times higher than wild salmon. There actually has been a movement in farming Coho Salmon which has actually bore great results compared to atlantic salmon or Steelhead Trout.

Wild Salmon is usually smaller, the meat is bright reddish pink**, the meat is much denser and flavourful. They are much less likely to suffer from disease and they are free from antibiotics. Salmon are also a relatively fast growing fish that can get quite large. Slower growing fish, like tuna, accumulate heavy metals and chemicals in their systems over time. Wild Salmon are much better when it comes to their safety. The health benefits of Wild Salmon greatly out weighs that of farmed fish. Wild Salmon is also a much more sustainable resource than farmed salmon as long as quotas and ethical practices are used in their fishing.

Health Benefits:

Salmon are one of the healthiest species of fish. They are high in Omega 3 fatty acids and are a great source of EPA and DHA which are the toughest at the Omega 3 fatty acids to find in the diet. They are also one of the only foods that are a source of vitamin D3. These brain nourishing compounds help prevent depression and anxiety, as well the synthesis of neurotransmitters and other chemicals and proteins in the brain. Salmon is true brain food.

Salmon is also high in Low Density Lipoprotein also known as “good cholesterol.” Which also makes it’s heart healthy. The best part of it all is that it is delicious.

Preparations:

Salmon can be prepared in so many different ways.

In it’s raw form it is great for sashimi.

It can be cold smoked and eaten cold as a great snack or finger food. Bagel and Lox is one of my favourite dishes to get in a deli.

Salmon Gravlax is a scandinavian preparation that involves cold smoking and brining.

Cedar Plank Smoking is a native american/canadian preparation that cooks the meat over a fire on a wet plank of cedar. The heat evaporates the moisture in the cedar plank along with aromatic oils in the wood which cooks the fish and infuses it with flavour.

Salmon is also versatile enough to work in salads, as a steak, as a flavouring component in many different kinds of soups and stews. So go buy some wild salmon this weekend and feed your brain and your body with one of the best things we can find underwater.

*Wild Salmon get their bright colour from a diet of krill. Farm raised salmon have a feed diet so they lose the bright hue in their flesh.

**Salmon coloured even.