Up until now, this blog has primarily highlighted seasonal fruits and vegetables, something that’s often hard to do in the dead of winter (hello, quick breads and frozen berries!).
But other things can be ‘in season,’ too, and we’re coming up on SALMON SEASON. Apparently, sockeye salmon wild-caught from the Pacific Northwest will be offered nationwide as we approach the month of May.
Health Benefits of Salmon:
-Salmon is chock-full of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, that are important for brain development, lowering blood pressure, and reducing your blood triglyceride levels
-Omega-3’s also help prevent blood clots and are anti-inflammatory
-The proteins found in salmon may help joint cartilage and function
-Don’t worry too much about high levels of mercury in salmon (and other higher-fat fish); one or two servings a week is much too little to pose and threat of toxicity, and the benefits of increasing the Omega-3 in your diets outweigh any potential risk
Varieties of Salmon:
King/Chinook – largest and least abundant in North America, flesh varies from white to pink to red
Sockeye/Red – darkest flesh of the species, spends 1-3 years in freshwater before going to sea, can spawn in lakes or rivers
Coho/Silver – spend 1-2 years in freshwater before heading out to sea, now depleted in most areas due to commercial fishing
Pink/Humpies – smallest and most abundant of species, spawns in estuaries and rivers, lowest fat content and frequently used for canning
Chum – have the largest geographic range (from California to Korea), spawns in rivers, migrates to sea soon after hatching, flesh can vary from white to pink to red, meat is well-suited for smoking
Where/How to Buy:
-Chinook, Coho and Sockeye are the three varieties most commonly found at grocery stores and restaurants, with 86% of it coming from Alaskan waters
-If fresh salmon isn’t available or in your budget, try frozen. Frozen foods these days are excellent! Frozen salmon will last up to 4 months when properly frozen and thawed
-Alaska has banned all salmon farming, so all salmon from Alaska is wild-caught and has very low levels of toxins, etc… However, farmed Atlantic salmon has been shown to have higher levels of toxins; opt for wild-caught fish whenever possible. For more information on all types of fish, toxins and sustainability, please see the NOAA’s FishWatch site
How to Cook:
-Broiling is an excellent method: Just a few minutes per side is plenty for a fillet about an inch thick.
-Steaming is another great way: Throw a fillet onto some foil, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice (or toss in some lemon slices), sprinkle with salt and pepper and enclose the whole thing by wrapping it up in the foil. Roast on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven; check after 10-15 minutes.
-Don’t overcook fish, especially salmon. Try to maintain the pink color; if it turns white, it’s overdone.
Recipes to Try:
–Cooking Light’s top 31 salmon recipes
This is from Barefoot Contessa’s ‘Barefoot at Home’ cookbook and it’s a favorite. I’ve made this before and it’s wonderful! Serve with soba noodles or brown rice and vegetables.
2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs
Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.
In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it’s done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive! You can find her at www.thefrozenpineapple.com.