Sockeye It To Me, Baby
By Chelsea Fisher
Salmon is a bona fide superfood! It’s one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are good for heart health, brain health and can even help reduce inflammation which has come to light as being a cause of many health problems including diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers. Salmon is also a great source of protein and is a surprisingly great source of vitamin D. Perfect for those days when you need a pick-me-up.
But, before we get too excited, in order to make smart, healthy decisions there are a few important facts about salmon that we all need to know before heading to the seafood counter. Here are some helpful tips and facts you should know before buying salmon.
- Be aware of whether the fish was farmed or wild caught. Though it may be more expensive, many environmental groups recommend getting wild caught salmon. Farmed salmon live in overcrowded conditions, and are often treated with antibiotics. Much farmed salmon has been found to be high in PBC’s due to high levels of the chemical in their feed which often consists of anchovies and herring. Problems with human consumption of PBC are still debated, but it has been cited as a potential cause of some cancers.
- Alaskan salmon is always wild caught and is an excellent choice whether fresh, frozen, or canned.
- Wild caught salmon gets is pink/orange color from eating krill and other small shellfish that themselves eat yeast and algae that create a carotenoid. These healthy cancer-fighting carotenoids are passed all way to the salmon and then to us! Unfortunately farmed salmon does not have a high carotenoid content and instead is often dyed to re-create the orange/pink look…yikes.
- Both farmed fish and wild-caught fish are rich in omega-3s, and many environmental agencies are working with salmon farms to improve their practices making it healthier for the planet and us.
- When in doubt, never be afraid to talk to your fishmonger.
Wild salmon is in season from early summer through late September, and this is when you will see wild Sockeye, King and Coho salmon at your fish market. Wild caught salmon is still your best choice. It is lean and firm looking, and a deep rich orange color. Farmed salmon tends to be much paler and fattier looking.
If you can’t find it fresh, you can also buy wild salmon frozen. It is super fresh because it’s frozen as soon as it’s caught, and can be kept in the freezer for up to four months. Barring that, wild canned salmon or pouches are a good economical option but make sure to buy salmon in cans that are BPA-free.
For those going through cancer treatment, it can be best to avoid strong smelling foods. For this reason, I recommend poaching salmon, it’s an excellent way to get fish into your life while avoiding the smell. If you’re worried the smell will be overwhelming for you, save your salmon for a day when you are feeling better, and, since this cooking method is so simple, buy the best quality you can. You don’t want one bad experience to take this super-food off of your plate for good.
Salmon is one of the tastiest fish out there, and it’s so good for your health. We love using it in our recipes. Even sworn fish-haters like salmon every once in a while. One of the best ways to prepare a good piece of salmon is to simply poach salmon with vegetables. It’s incredibly fast cooking and deliciously simple. Top it with a tarragon vinaigrette for a delicious dish. Grilled Gravalax is a classic, and an incredible way to enjoy salmon on the BBQ. And canned salmon is perfect for our excellent Salmon Cakes with Dijon Yogurt Sauce, which will please the whole family.