After shrimp and canned tuna, salmon comes in as the third most consumed seafood in the US. The average American consumes 2 pounds/year. When you consider the large number who either don’t like or eat much seafood, or those with limited access to seafood, it means that some folks are eating quite a lot of salmon. While it truly is popular, there is a lot that most folks just don’t know about salmon.
The thing about salmon that makes them very recognizable versus other species of fish is their distinct pink color. We’ve even coined a name for the color, which you will find in clothing store catalogs and paint samples. “Salmon” (or “salmon pink”) is meant to describe a delicate, reddish-pink hue that has become extremely popular in recent years. However, the famous salmon color is not something that is dictated by the fish’s DNA. Instead, salmon get their color thanks to their diet. Specifically, the color comes from an anti-oxidant carotenoid called astaxanthin. This chemical is produced in the chloroplasts of yeasts and algae. Salmon don’t feed on algae and yeast, but the smaller fish on which salmon feed -- and which make up the majority of their diet -- do. Once again, it goes to prove that we are what we eat.
The most compelling thing we should know about salmon is that, generally speaking, it is good for our health. Salmon is one of the most nutritious types of fish to add to your diet. It supplies iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, in addition to a whole host of other nutrients.
Salmon is also a source of unsaturated fats -- healthy types of fat that help protect your health -- called polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Both kinds of healthy fats help normalize your heartbeat and ease inflammation, which is a response from your immune system that can increase your risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses. A 3-ounce serving of wild Atlantic salmon supplies 4.9 grams of unsaturated fats, and the same portion of coho salmon contains 4.4 grams. Three ounces of sockeye salmon have 2.5 grams of unsaturated fats, and a 3-ounce serving of farmed Atlantic salmon provides 7.4 grams.
Salmon contains a specific type of unsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of dying from heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon help keep your heart healthy by protecting the health of your blood vessels. They help lower triglycerides, reduce your blood pressure and prevent blood clots, effects that go a long way toward protecting your heart. Choosing salmon over red meat can help lower your cholesterol -- the waxy substance that can build up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack -- because salmon is much lower in saturated fat than beef, pork, and some cuts of poultry.
In addition, salmon is a very good source of protein. While the specific protein content varies depending on what type of salmon you're eating, a 3-ounce serving contains an average of about 20 to 21 grams. Eating a serving of any kind of salmon is a nutritious way to make sure you're getting plenty of protein.
A few cooking tips regarding salmon
Dealing with the bones - You should remove the pin bones—but carefully. Pulling them up and out of the salmon will rip up its flesh, which is not a good look. Take tweezers and carefully pull out the pin bones in the same direction the bones are oriented in the salmon’s flesh.
Skin, keep it or remove it? Skin is tasty and will enhance the flavor of your fish. So when you’re cooking salmon, keep that skin on. The meat itself is quite delicate and the skin provides a safety layer between your fish’s flesh and a hot pan or grill. Start with the skin-side down, and let it crisp up. Then it's easy to slide your spatula under the salmon’s skin to turn it and the flesh won’t stick to the pan. There is an exception to the keep on the skin rule, however: When poaching salmon, you will want to remove the skin first with a sharp filleting knife.
When poaching, add flavor to your water – There is no reason to poach your salmon in plain tap water. Add zest and flavor by spiking the water with lemon or a half head of garlic. Another good idea is to poach the salmon in dry white wine. Not only will these ideas add flavor to your fish, they go a long way in preventing your kitchen from smelling like a fish house.
Don’t overcook it – We’ve all heard the phrase, “Cook it till it flakes”.Turns out that this in one of the most common mistakes made when cooking salmon. If using a grill or a pan, sear salmon skin-side down on high heat until the skin is crispy, then, whether you flip your fish or not, finish cooking it on low heat. The fish’s sections should give and pull apart easily, not flake into dry pieces.
Enjoy the leftovers – How often do you hear people say, “I’m not saving the leftovers because reheated fish is never any good”? Perhaps that is true, but who says that you need to reheat the leftover salmon? Cold, day-old salmon is delicious; flake it into a salad, turn it into a sandwich, or just eat it straight from the fridge.
Hope we’ve piqued your taste buds and have you thinking of delicious, fresh salmon. Here is a collection of Salmon recipes that you might like to review.