Salmon was one of the only fish I did not like when my wife, Shannon and I first got together. One day we were in the supermarket and she asked if we could get some fresh caught salmon that was on sale. I told her she could have as much as she wanted but to count me out. Salmon would never grace my plate.
Shannon bought some beautiful deep-red Sockeye salmon for her dinner that evening. At that point, I didn’t know, nor care, that there were six species of North American salmon. They vary in price, color, and taste, and 5 out of 6 are healthy choices.
The largest salmon is the king or chinook, prized for its high-fat content, rich Omega-3s, and buttery texture. Second is the Sockeye, an oilier fish with deep-red flesh has a stronger flavor and stands up well to grilling. The third is the Coho, milder and often lighter in color. The fourth is the Pink, and, the fifth is the chum. They are both smaller and most often used in canning or smoking. The sixth is the most common salmon you will find in the supermarket. It is the farmed-raised species known as Atlantic salmon, not a recommended choice. Yes, it’s cheaper by several dollars per pound, and normally tagged with “color enhanced”
Farm-raised Atlantic salmon lacks the flavor or taste of wild-caught salmon. Salmon farms use crowded pens where the salmon are easily infected with parasites and have to be treated with antibiotics. Farm-raised salmon are often fattier than wild-caught salmon because they are fed a diet consisting of grains and vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fats. This combats the beneficial effects of omega-3s found in salmon.
Did you know a 4-ounce serving of wild-caught salmon has up to 2,400 mg omega-3s? King salmon and those which have longer upstream journeys tend to store more fat and have more omega-3s. That is good for you!
Anyway, Shannon prepared her salmon on a cedar plank. She brushed it lightly with olive oil and fresh dill. I watched her put it on the grill and thought it looked good. She tested its doneness over and over and assured me that there was nothing worse than overcooked salmon. I thought to myself that there wasn’t anything worst than salmon no matter what you did to it. She removed it from the grill when it was about 85% cooked and let it rest. Salmon cooks quickly and it will get away from you if you don’t stay right there through the cooking process.
In our family, you have to try everything once, even if you don’t like it. Your tastebuds change all the time and MAYBE that bite will change your culinary destiny forever. My wife broke off a larger than normal bite for me to try. Not fair I protested. I took the bite and to my surprise, it was delicious. I immediately responded that salmon didn’t taste like any salmon I had ever tried before.
That’s when I learned the differences between farm-raised and wild-caught salmon. To me, there is a big difference in taste and consistency. Needless to say, I am very picky about the quality of the salmon that I purchase for our family. Now I have experimented with so many different cooking technics. One of our favorite cooking technics is Skin-on Pan-Seared Salmon cooked over fresh Rosemary and Thyme. The scales are so fine that they almost melt away during the cooking process. Even the crispy skin is delicious! Add some zoodles and it’s a dish from heaven!!!
We have salmon several times a month and still cook a lot of salmon on cedar planks. I even deep-fried it once. Everyone said you don’t deep-fry salmon because it’s such an oily fish… well guess what? The 8 guests we had devoured it. It was delicious. I love breaking the rules with food.
I’m curious, how do you cook your salmon? Share with us your favorite technics. What are your favorite species?