I love seafood of all types and while I like salmon, it’s not first on my list of favorites. However, it’s so versatile, so nutritious and full of FoodTrients, I try to eat it fairly often. One of the things I am careful to do is to eat wild salmon as opposed to farmed salmon.
Most experts agree that wild or farmed, the protein in all salmon is excellent and that it is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acid, which are good for heart health, your joints and brain function. Here are more health benefits to salmon:
There is some controversy that farmed salmon, grown in open net cages in the Pacific Northwest, can be harmful due to the number of fish in the cage, what they’re fed and the effect on the environment. According to the Washington State Department of Health, the issues of farmed salmon fall into three main categories:
1. Environmental concerns
3. Omega-3 fatty acid levels in edible portions.
The good news is both wild and farmed salmon are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and have low levels of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants.
A lot of the bad press about farmed fish was as the result of a widely-cited study in 2004 that found the levels of PCBs, a potentially carcinogenic chemical, to be ten times higher in farmed fish than in wild-caught fish. While no one likes the idea of ANY carcinogens in their food, the level in the farmed fish was still less than 2% of the amount that would be considered dangerous. Subsequent studies reported that PCB levels in farmed fish are similar to those of wild fish. As for other environmental and sustainable concerns, wild-caught fish are sometimes harvested using techniques that do a lot of damage to the ecosystem and other fish. On the other hand, fish-farming practices can pollute the water and threaten local flora and fauna. The bottom line is that there are good and bad practices in catching and farming fish– it all depends on who is doing the fishing and/or farming.
The decision whether to eat farmed or wild salmon is a personal one. But keep in mind that there are many health benefits of any salmon. If you can find wild salmon in your local fish department and can afford to buy it, that’s great. But if wild is not readily available or too expensive, consuming farmed salmon a couple of times a week will do you more good than harm.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium here in California has a site that tells you what fish are the Best Choices (Alaska and New Zealand salmon), Good Alternatives (Canadian, California, Oregon, and Washington wild salmon) and which to stay away from (Farmed Atlantic salmon). I refer to the site and the app all the time.
In the new edition of my cookbook, The Age GRACEFULLY Cookbook now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I created one of my favorite salmon recipes – Salmon Poached in Pickling Spices. Don’t forget to watch the recipe video below too.
Salmon Poached in Pickling Spices
Pickle juice makes a nice poaching liquid, but I’ve found that pickling spices without the vinegar are even better for poaching fish, especially salmon. You can make your own spice mix or you can buy prepackaged pickling salts. I top this poached salmon with my Pecan and Sundried Tomato Tapenade and my Mock Sour Cream. It can be served hot or cold.
3 cups water
1 Tbs. pickling spices
2 lb. salmon fillets, skin on
1 recipe Mock Sour Cream
1 recipe Pecan and Sundried Tomato Tapenade (See below)
Chef’s Note: To make your own pickling spices, mix 3 tsp. dried dill, 1 tsp. salt or salt substitute, 1 tsp. mustard seeds, 1 tsp. fennel seeds, and 1/2 tsp. ground peppercorns. You can use smaller salmon fillets, but they will cook faster, so check them after 10 minutes.
Pecan and Sundried Tomato Tapenade
I found the inspiration for this tapenade while at a health spa in Mexico. Of course, I put my own special FoodTrients spin on it to create a great topping for fish and a dip for crackers and bread. The pecans can be toasted or raw. I like to use sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil.
Yields 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup minced sundried tomatoes
2-3 Tbs. sliced black olives
2 Tbs. minced cilantro leaves
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced roasted garlic
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce
Chef’s Note: To make a wonderful salad dressing out of the tapenade, blend it in a food processor with up to 1/2 cup olive oil.