Let's talk about salmon.
Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon to be exact.
Normally I wouldn't call people out - well, I do... in a veiled tongue-in-cheek kind of way - but this is something I really cannot let ride, and it's been nagging me the past couple of weeks since the program aired. And before you get all "You're just saying this because you're doing the wild salmon thing"... it's not.
A couple of weeks ago America's Test Kitchen showed their viewers how to cook a perfect piece of salmon. As a segment of that program, they had a fishmonger on that bad-mouthed wild caught. He flatly stated that he would never eat wild caught salmon, using statements like:
- " I want to know what my salmon has been eating..."
- " Wild salmon forage unchecked, mercury and other toxic chemical contamination is a very big possibility..."
- " Wild salmon is less fatty and fewer Omega 3 fats..."
- " Farmed salmon are a sustainable product..."
- "Farmed salmon is more readily available and less expensive..."
All very valid concerns - and things I care about as well.
Let's talk about the 1st statement -
Wild salmon forage, yes. They forage for zooplankton, sand lance, krill, smaller adult fish, small crustaceans and squid. These, depending on the variety of their diet, give the wild salmon it's characteristic, easily recognizable orange to deep red flesh. You know it when you see it.
Farm raised salmon are fed pelletized food consisting of fish meal (only about 10 to 15%) and grain (corn, rice and barley). The softer orange-ish to reddish coloration is from dye added to the feed - or - in some cases, injected into the fish directly.
So, weighing natural foraging to a basically "grain-fed" fish... which would you rather have?
Now, let's look at -
Mr Fishmonger is correct that wild salmon had higher levels of mercury than farm-raised. What he neglected to mention was that BOTH fish have levels that are so far below the acceptable FDA standard, that it's basically a negligible amount. It's like saying one grain of sand to two grains of sand. Additionally, farm-raised salmon has high levels ( 8 times as much on average) of PCB's...
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are a group of man-made chemicals. They were widely used in electrical equipment, in industrial processes, and in the manufacture and recycling of carbonless copy paper until research revealed that they pose risks to human health, wildlife and the natural environment. The federal government banned the production of PCBs in 1976, but PCB contamination remains widespread in the environment today because of improper disposal of products containing the chemicals and byproducts of the processes used to make such products. - Source, US Dept of Natural Resources... where wild salmon has virtually none.
Huh.. he seemed to have left that one out.
Wild Salmon is less fatty:
Well, yes - it is less fatty. I hasn't been fed a farm-raised diet of grain (corn) for the purpose of making it fat. It also isn't getting the omega 3 and 6 fats either - because it isn't feeding on omega rich fish. It's eating corn... and barley.... and rice - all things to make the fish fatty (those whitish stripes you see in the fillets). Granted, some of this transposes into omega 3 and 6 fats, but no where near the amounts you'll get in a wild-caught variety. Additionally, the fat-to-protein ratio is remarkably higher in farm-raised fish as well. And this is important - all that farm fat isn't omega 3 and 6. It's just fish fat. Granted, any salmon is better for you than no salmon at all - but if you have the choice....
And finally, we'll look at the last 2 statements together.
Farmed is sustainable and less expensive:
Yes it is. It lives in a tank, and essentially - it's already caught, it's kind of difficult to charge a lot for something that takes very little effort to process. The men and women that fish for wild salmon earn their livelihood doing that. It's hard work. There are quotas and limitations set on the catch each season. These limits are monitored throughout the season to ensure a continuing, healthy returning run of salmon for the future. In fact, this year there has already been a lower than normal turnout for King Salmon, and in order to protect the schools, the harvesting had been halted for a period to make sure the run numbers increased so that it would be safe to harvest. Does this raise the price of wild caught salmon? Sure. Is grass-fed beef more expensive than grain fed? Of course. Wild caught salmon is a premium catch. You pay for premium. Is it unreasonably so? No - not when you consider that some of you would spend $10 to $12 for a really good steak at the market. It's the same thing.
There.. I'm done for the moment.
As you already know - I'm part of the Copper River Wild Caught Salmon Fresh Catch Crew for the 2012 Season - Stay tuned this season for salmon info, great recipes and locations in Georgia that carry Copper River Wild Caught Salmon
For more information on Wild Caught Copper River Salmon, visit the Copper River site at Copperriversalmon.Org.
On to what most of you are here for anyway... the recipe.
For legal purposes, I am disclosing that for my participation in this exciting event, Copper River Wild Salmon is supplying me with fresh fish for use in the recipes.
Oh, and before I forget - be sure to check out the Copper River Catch Locator HERE to find where you can get Fresh Copper River Wild Salmon in your area. For those of you in the Atlanta area - I have already marked several markets in the area that will have your new summer "go to" fish. I'll be adding 4 to 5 restaurants as well...just as soon as I verify with them this week!
Toby @ Plate Fodder
Pan Cooked Sockeye Salmon
|Seasoned and ready to go - Unfortunately, I was ravenous|
by the time it finished... I forgot to snag a pic of the finished fish
Also - yes, that is white sugar you see in the ingredient list. I wanted a touch of sweetness without adding any color or additional brown sugar flavor to this beautiful fillet
1 12 to 14 Ounce Fillet of Copper River Sockeye Salmon
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Place the skillet on medium high heat (6 for electric)
Prep the fish:
- Zest the lemon, and quarter the remaining fruit
- Salt and pepper the fillet
- Add all the zest to the top
- Dust with the sugar and allow to sit until the oil is hot
- add the oil and butter to the skillet and heat until the oil is shimmering - but not smoking
- Place the fillet - Skin Side Down - and allow it to cook without moving or turning for 5 minutes (what we are after here is a hard crisp on the skin)
- Watch the side of the fillet, when the flesh turns opaque about 1/3 the thickness, carefully turn the salmon over
- Cook another 2 minutes without moving
- Remove from the heat, and with a sharp knife, separate the 2 lobes of the fillet
- Place each on a serving plate with lemon wedges and Crookneck Hash
Whenever I smell fish cooking, my mind always goes to fishing camp and campsite dinners. This Crookneck Hash is super easy and the perfect side dish to any fish dinner - and was just the ticket for the sockeye.
6 to 8 Small Crookneck (or Yellow) Squash
1 Cup Frozen Shredded Hash Browns
1 Clove Garlic
3 Tablespoons Oil
1/4 Cup Cornmeal Mix
Salt and Pepper to Taste (go heavy on the pepper. Yellow squash just screams for black pepper)
Large Skillet with Lid
Large Zipper Bag
- Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat
- Tip the squash and slice into 1/4" rings
- Add the squash, some salt, and the cornmeal to the zipper bag - shake well to coat
- Place the squash in the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides (about 8 to 10 min)
- Mince the garlic and add to the pan
- Add the hash browns and fold into the squash
- Cook uncovered , turning occasionally, until the potatoes begin to brown
- Add the scallions, and salt and papper to your liking
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes