We love seafood! My kids would live on fish and other seafoods all the time if they could. Therefore it was a no brainer to volunteer to try some Alaskan Wild Salmon when I Mumsnet and the Alaskan Seafood Board were looking for families to try the product.
Alaska is high on my bucket list and I have watched many a documentaries about this large pristine wilderness. I love those images of grizzlies catching the salmon on their migration to the spawning grounds!
There’s so many facts about salmon that fascinate me. I’ll share some, (but if you don’t care about the science & biology behind it, just interested in how to ruin (or not to ruin) a perfectly good, wild salmon scroll down towards end. )
Alaska is home to the greatest wild salmon runs in the world.
What makes wild salmon different from farmed salmon?
Alaskan salmon spawn in over 2,000 freshwater rivers and lakes across the state. From there they migrate to the ocean, swimming thousands of miles through the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, feeding on ocean krill, shrimp and other small fish. This natural diet, combined with the rigours of swimming through icy waters, gives Alaska salmon their unique flavour, colour and texture.
Salmon return to the exact place of birth to spawn, during this time they build up reserves of fat and nutrients to carry them through their rigorous journey upstream. They do not eat once they have entered fresh water and they leave the ocean heavy with the fats and nutrients that they will subsist on during their freshwater phase. It is at this point of peak quality, just before they reach fresh water, that the salmon are harvested.
Salmon that enter fresh water early in the season are more brightly coloured than those that arrive later, but all salmon turn darker as the time to spawn approaches.
The female salmon digs a nest in the cleanest part of the stream bed and then selects a male to fertilize her eggs, as she deposits them in the gravel.
In the UK we are lucky that we have wild salmon in Scotland and North England too, but the numbers are small compared to Alaska, which makes catching Alaskan Salmon more sustainable.
Surely the freshness of fish caught on the other side of the world is questionable!
Well not really: Once the salmon is caught it is transferred from a fishing vessel to a tender vessel. These tender vessels chill the fish with either ice or refrigerated seawater. The tender system allows fishing vessels to fish while support vessels run back and forth between the plant and the fishing grounds.
Salmon can be frozen at sea locking in freshness and shipped by boat or flown to markets as far as Europe or Japan. Less than 48 hours after it was fished from the water, Alaska salmon can be found in restaurants and supermarkets in Europe.
Awful for food miles, but great for freshness!
Why would you want to choose wild salmon over farmed salmon?
Test have show a significant difference in the meat structure of wild versus farmed salmon.
|Nutritional value wild Alaska salmonPer 100g raw fillet||Nutritional value farmed Alaska salmonPer 100g raw fillet|
Total Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Omega-3 Fat: 2g
Total Fat: 12.3g
Saturated Fat: 2.5g
Omega-3 Fat: 4.7g
* source: Alaskan Seafood Board
Alaska salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids. Salmon contains vitamins A, D, B6 and B2 as well as niacin and riboflavin, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. Alaska salmon is an excellent option for everyone, as it is easy to digest. All seafood contains high levels of Omega-3s and wild salmon Omega-3 levels rank as some of the highest of all seafood.
It is proved that eating more seafood decreases your chances of heart diseases and certain cancers. This is attributed to the type of oil found in certain species, especially in salmon. These oils “Omega-3 fatty acids” are polyunsaturated. The consumption of omega 3 oils is essential for a healthy diet for everyone from pregnant mums, babies and older people. During pregnancy the need for nearly all nutrients increase some specific ones are needed for the development of the baby, DHA is one that is almost exclusive in seafood and essential when pregnant. In the last three months of pregnancy, the baby takes large quantities of DHA from the mother, the increased consumption of fish ensures enough DHA for babies to develop properly eyes and brain. The Omega-3 intake may also lower the risk of developing Alzheimer, dementia and possibly Parkinson’s disease.
Alaska salmon grow in the most pristine, clean and rich waters of the world and for that reason the levels of mercury are one of the lowest in the world.
This is the bit I didn’t read before preparing my salmon:
The flavour profile of wild is very different to farmed and has many different uses. The variance in texture and flavour means that wild salmon is most suited to recipes such as chilli garlic salmon or mixed with sweet and more exotic ingredients whereas farmed salmon could be more suitable for grilled recipes or ingredients such as lemon, feta cheese, capers, etc.
So here’s what I did:
1, Don’t be lazy: Cook similar sized and thickness steaks together. If they are different sizes, cook them separately
2, Don’t overcook: Cooking process startes when you stat placing the pieces in the pan, including as you are adding spices. It does not stop when the heat is switched off, especially if you leave the salmon in the hot pan!
3, Adapt your spices to bring out the flavours: even if it’s the same species, it may well need to be spiced differently.
I cooked the loveliness out of my salmon steaks 🙁 Even though it still looked lovely.
I now know I should have pan fried the salmon for just 3 minutes on each side!
I hope you have a chance to try some gorgeous Alaskan wild salmon that is prepared to perfection
…unlike mine turned out.