Let’s talk about Salmon this week. We love seafood in our household and Salmon is a regular on our dinner table. When I was in graduate school up in Boston, Massachusetts, I worked at Legal Seafoods to help pay the bills. I learned SO much about fish and I have a whole different appreciation for it since working there. Did you know that your seafood is not supposed to smell ‘fishy’? If it has a little odor, that is okay, but if it is fresh, it won’t stink! Did you know there are many different kinds of Salmon? In this post, I will talk about the most common ones on the market.
Salmon is a pretty well-known and popular fish. There are many different types of Salmon including Wild King Alaskan Salmon (a.k.a. Chinook), Wild Sockeye Salmon (a.k.a. Reds), Wild Coho Salmon, Wild Pink Salmon (mostly found in canned forms), Wild Chum, and Atlantic Salmon (Always farmed nowadays because the wild ones are endangered). All forms of Salmon are rich in protein and low in sodium in their natural forms.
Ever wonder why Salmon has its rich color? The color varies for a few reasons, but the main one is due to carotenoids, the same pigments that make carrots orange. Those magical antioxidants combat the damaging effects of free radicals. The carotenoid in Salmon is a particularly potent antioxidant which has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, eye diseases, general aging and many other conditions. The different types of Salmon also live in different places, so that also have some bearing on their diets and colors.
Before I talk about each version of Salmon listed here, I want to let you know that I only eat wild seafood for several reasons: I don’t want to eat farmed seafood because I don’t know what the farmers are feeding them (sometimes it is grains, soy, antibiotics to combat infections in pens, etc.); I don’t want to eat any color dyes that may be used to alter the color of the fish so they look more like the wild versions; I can’t see the conditions that the fish are raised in, and their ‘quality of life’ supposedly affects the quality of the fish product, just like with other animal products that we eat; my doctors told me that with my allergies, I should only eat wild seafood; lastly, I want to get all the wonderful nutrients from the wild fish…that’s one of the benefits of eating Salmon. Some farmed seafood is much better controlled and regulated, and they use better feed for them as well as more natural coloring agents. Unfortunately, since we are not there and that information is not provided for us, we don’t know what we are getting when we purchase it. So, if you would like to have farmed seafood, don’t let me influence your decision. Just be aware that farmed seafood is not always what it seems and if you have allergies too, you might want to be extra careful. Also, if you see seafood labeled as ‘organic’ –beware that this usually only means it was farmed!
So, here are the descriptions of each common Wild Salmon listed above.
First is King Salmon, the largest in size and most desirable. It varies in color from white to pinkish to red. It is the most expensive, generally, but has the most Omega-3 fatty acids. It contains awesome amounts of Vitamin D and Selenium too. It is well known for its buttery texture and is such a treat when it is in season during the summer months!
Wild Sockeye Salmon are sometimes called ‘Reds’ because of the rich, darker red color. It contains less Omega-3 fatty acids than the King Salmon, but it still has a healthy amount in each 3 ounce serving. This one also has lots of Vitamin D and Selenium too. The flavor of Sockeye is more pronounced and it is a little oilier in texture. It holds up better on the grill though than some of the other types of Salmon, and it also makes a really nice Salmon burger.
Coho Salmon is lighter in color and the flavor is milder. The Omega-3’s are similar between the Sockeye and the Coho, as well as the other nutrients.
The Pink Salmon is smaller in size and is most often found as smoked or in canned forms at the grocery stores. If the canned version has bones in it, it has more calcium content. Omega-3’s and other nutrients are slightly less than the Coho and Sockeye, but still worth eating!
When you choose your Salmon at the grocery store or fish market, look at the fish before you buy it. Does it look like the right color? Does it look like it has been sitting there a long time? How does it smell? Don’t be afraid to ask the people working there if you can give a quick ‘sniff’. Better to smell it there at the store, then at home in your kitchen! Some places (fish markets and Whole Foods) will de-bone, skin, or cut your fish into portions. All you have to do is ask. I usually leave the skin on my seafood since it adds more flavor and locks in some of the oils and fats. If your skin is crispy and flavorful, enjoy it as part of your meal. If it comes out mushy or rubbery, or if you don’t like to eat the skin, peel it off once it is out of the oven. I hope this information is helpful. Watch for a few Salmon recipes this week!