Salmon is very easy to obtain and not difficult to prepare. Fresh salmon is usually available at your local supermarket, but you can also likely find frozen fillets and/or steaks, packages of smoked salmon, or canned salmon. They are all healthy as long as they are from wild salmon and not farmed fish. Canned is usually from wild fish. Smoked salmon has been showing up as farmed, and thankfully it is usually listed on the package as farmed fish, so it’s easy to spot. Another way that you can tell them apart is color. The wild caught is a pale pinkish color while the farmed is colored through color added to the feed, so it looks more orange.
Salmon is usually prepared by baking or broiling, and served with vegetables and rice. This is a very healthy choice, especially when you take into account that it is loaded with heart healthy Omega 3 oils. Compare that to steak or pork, which is usually grain fed and full of saturated fat. The typical way that the salmon is cooked is much better than the breaded and deep fried way that other types of fish are usually prepared.
Most of the salmon sold in North America is from Alaska. Pacific salmon varieties are represented by Chinook (King), Coho (Silver), and Sockeye (Red) salmon. Atlantic salmon are obviously from the Atlantic ocean. Most of this type is farm raised rather than wild. I have had supermarket fish mongers insist that Atlantic salmon is wild caught because of the name, and they (should) know better. Now you do. Again, remember that pale pink is most likely wild and bright orange is farm raised due to the feed coloring. There is some recent data that farm raised salmon is not as bad as previously thought, but wild is still better. They are just healthier fish.
When buying fish, make sure that that fish counter area seems clean and that there is not a smell of bad fish. All of the fish should be under a cover if possible but definitely on ice. If the heads are on, the eyes should be clear and not cloudy, and the gills red. There should be no milky fluids on the fish or on the filet meat. The skin should be shiny and the flesh should be firm and not soft or squishy. Let your nose guide you. Learn to distinguish fresh fish smell to a fishy foul odor. Fresh salmon will only last for approximately 48 hours in the refrigerator. If you need to keep it longer, place it in a freezer bag and freeze it. Once frozen, they should ideally be eaten within 3 months.
Salmon can be cooked on the grill, poached, broiled, pan seared, or baked. It is very versatile. If you know how, raw salmon can be smoked and consumed that way. Salmon will cook rapidly in about 10 minutes for each inch of flesh. Baked fillets can cook nicely at 350F in twenty minutes time.
Canned salmon, one of my all time easy favorites, is as easy as opening the can. Some people who are not used to it might find the fact that most canned salmon contains skin and bones to be a bit off putting, but it is all edible. The bones are brittle and you can just mush it up with a fork until it is the consistency of mushed tuna fish. You can even mix it with some mayonnaise and light seasonings like black pepper and onion powder, as many people do. Some people opt for the skinless and boneless canned pink salmon, but I am telling you here that the red salmon which is canned with the skin and bones is much more flavorful as well as containing more of the healthy Omega 3 fish oils EPA and DHA. The taste is richer. Pink salmon is okay, but I consider it too bland. To each their own. One way to enjoy canned red salmon is to get yourself some thin sliced Italian bread or Portuguese bread slices. White bread (or any sliced bread) works, but the type of bread I suggest is worlds above plain old supermarket white bread. I am referring to the bread that is in a round loaf style before it is sliced into thin slices, with the center slices being the largest. Take two pieces of this and toast it. If the slices you choose are too long for the toaster just toast half then flip and dot he other half. Take some soft butter and spread a thin layer across the inside of the toasted bread slices. This forms a barrier to prevent the fish juice from making the toast soft. This is optional if you plan to eat the sandwich immediately (although tasty), but a necessity of you plan on packing the sandwich for lunch. Take the salmon and either mush it into a pliable paste with a fork, or use a bit of mayonnaise. The mayo acts like a “glue” and keeps it all together, and if you like mayo it really enhances the taste. Simply put the salmon paste onto the toasted bread evenly, gently press the other slice on top, slice in half so that it’s easier to handle, and you have one of the simplest and tastiest sandwiches you will ever have.
Smoked salmon slices are likewise not only great on bagels and crackers, but you can make a similar tasty sandwich using Irish style whole grain wheaten bread and buttering two slices and putting the smoked salmon inside. Black pepper and a squirt of fresh lemon juice is highly recommended. Irish style wheaten bread mix can be bought online and it is exceedingly simple to make. The Odlums brand only requires you to add water, mix, and put it into a greased bread baking tin and bake it. It’s THAT simple.
I sincerely hope that this article will open up or further expand your healthy food repertoire to include healthy salmon, as well as providing you with some simple ideas to add it into your diet. Bon appetit!