We are pleased to finally bring you <<drumroll>> </drumroll>FRESH LOCAL King Salmon! They call it “King” for a reason. It is the best of the best…there are 5 different species of North Pacific native salmon (ready…GO! Can you list all 5?) King is considered the best due to its high fat content which = yummy goodness. The fat brings the health benefits, creamy texture, amazing melt-in-your-mouth flavor. (FYI – King/Chinook, Coho/Silver, Sockeye, Pink, and Chum) (pop quiz later…)
So, what’s up with the local salmon season anyways? Well, glad you asked…
As you may recall, just four years ago we saw a collapse in the salmon population which shut down California’s commercial salmon fisheries. The season was open (if you could even call it that) briefly but with severe restrictions last year. Some say this year we may see the prized Kings perform an amazing comeback.
We’ve been approved the longest commercial salmon fishing season in eight years thanks to huge numbers of the King salmon populations from the Klamath and Sacramento rivers – CA’s top spawning grounds. This year’s local commercial salmon fishing season began May 1 and will run through Sept. 30 with a few breaks. We’ll do what we can to get it to our farmers’ markets and CSS throughout the season whether caught by Hans or one of our local day boats.
Reportedly, there are 1.65 million adult King salmon in the ocean this year from the Klamath River near the Oregon border, nearly three times higher than any previous estimate since 1985! Much of this has been attributed the favorable ocean conditions and the wet winters of 2009-2011. Deep, surging rivers enable more young salmon to survive during their journey to the ocean, where they then get to feast on an abundance of plankton that’s been churned to the surface by the coastal upwelling.
This all still brings no guarantees… King salmon populations are on a cycle that can (and has) fluctuate(d) by man-made problems such as pollution from agricultural runoff (as seen in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta,) loss of stream and wetland habitat, and the diversion of water for farming. It has been said that we’ll see salmon suffer for as long as the political battle over California’s water rages.
The salmon fishing in Monterey Bay can be hit or miss, but most fishermen are hitting good amounts of salmon so far. The price is still high but we may see that level out a little bit…it’s always high to start due to demand and uncertain supply.
As far as health – ever try to do a Google search on “the health benefits of eating salmon?” It’s a joke. Pages go on and on. I tried to look up a little something that maybe we hadn’t all heard before but all the information out there is baffling. So let’s stick with the basics… we all know about that magic ‘ingredient’ found in salmon , fish oil that is high in Omega-3s. This fatty acid is not found in other foods. Found in fish, polyunsaturated fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), helps the heart and clogged arteries. Salmon, in particular, is loaded with Omega-3s and the American Heart Association has recommended people eat it at least twice per week. You might also try Sardines and Black Cod to kick up the omegas in your diet. But did you know the health benefits associated with Omega-3s found salmon provide a great source of easily digested protein? The benefits are tremendous for kids, athletes, pregnant and nursing women, and those who are recovering from illnesses. The DHA found in wild King salmon enhances the development of fetal and young brains as well as infant nervous systems. Did you know that eating wild Salmon provides your body with at least 50% of the vitamin D your body needs in a given day? It’s no joke and the claims are backed up by the American Heart Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and World Health Organization. The FDA even permits a claim to be posted on Wild Salmon labeling: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One serving of Wild King Salmon provides 1.7 grams of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.” That’s some king stuff!
It’s hard to go wrong when cooking King salmon. The Coho salmon tends to be a bit leaner and therefore may have a tendency to dry out easier. Kings have a higher fat content which will help prevent this.
Here are some basic salmon cooking techniques:
Baking: Season salmon, then brush with butter/olive oil/grapeseed oil/coconut oil. Place in a baking pan and cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Check at the thickest point. Salmon should flake when done.
Steaming: Use a steamer or steaming basket, arrange salmon portions on rack, then pour liquid (wine, water, etc.) over fish into pan. Lightly season salmon and add spices and herbs to water. Cover and bring to a boil. Steam salmon one minute per ounce over medium heat. You can also wrap your fish portions in cheese cloth to remove them from steamer in whole pieces.
Poaching: Assemble poaching liquid of a mix of chicken broth, white wine, water, sake, etc. Add one teaspoon of bouquet garni and bring to simmer. Be sure there is enough liquid to cover fish in a skillet. Poach 6 to 7 minutes. Can serve warm with lemon dill sauce or chill in refrigerator and serve cold.
Pan Frying: The trick with frying is to allow your oil or butter to get hot before frying. This captures the oils and juices and keeps them in the salmon. Do not allow your oil to get too hot and smoke. The basics include rinsing your fish quickly or wiping with a damp cloth. Dip your fillet portions or steaks into milk, then in cracker crumbs or flour. You can season either as well. Your oil should be deep enough to cover 1/2 of the fillet or steak thickness. Fry on medium heat about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
Broiling: Preheat oven and broiling pan at least 10 minutes beforehand. Brush the top of the salmon with seasonings. You can also coat it with an oil if you like but I never do. Place on broiler rack about 2 to 3 inches from heat. You do not need to turn salmon fillets while they’re broiling. Salmon is finished when thickest part separates easily with a fork. If you’ve used some kind of marinade that is browning too quickly, turn from broiler to bake and finish at about 350 degrees.
Finally, some of our tried and tested favorite healthy salmon recipes… (some old, some new, all delicious.)
Grilled Salmon and Spinach Salad (feeling inspired by this heat and all the delicious citrus fruits ripe right now)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic blend seasoned rice vinegar (such as Nakano)
1/2 teaspoon mustard (honey or spicy)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 lb salmon fillet
2 teaspoons black pepper
6-ounces fresh spinach
4 oranges, each peeled and cut into 6 slices
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.
To prepare salad, drizzle lemon juice over fillets; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons pepper. Place fillets, skin sides up, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove skin from fillets; discard (or eat! supper healthy fats in there!)
Add spinach to vinaigrette in bowl; toss well. Place spinach mixture evenly on serving plates; arrange salmon and orange slices on top of greens.
adapted from Cooking Light July, 2009
Pan-Grilled Salmon with Red Pepper Salsa
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
1 lb salmon fillet
1 cup prechopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped tomato
2 tablespoons prechopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
To prepare salmon, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine first 5 ingredients; rub evenly over fillets. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. While fish cooks, prepare salsa. Combine bell pepper and remaining ingredients. Serve salsa with fillet(s).
adapted from Cooking Light August, 2010
Coconut Lime Seared Salmon
1 lb salmon
squeeze lime juice
sea salt and pepper
4 T. organic virgin coconut oil (or olive oil) for frying
dried or fresh dill (to taste)
Coconut Lime Sauce: 1 can organic coconut milk, 1/3 c. lime juice, peel of fresh lime – grated for zest, handful organic no-sulfur shredded coconut (extra for garnish), slices of fresh lime for garnish
Prepare your coconut sauce by combining and stirring all the lime sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Once mixed, poor roughly two-thirds of the glaze and salmon in a leak proof bag and let marinate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Coat your grill with olive oil (spray or otherwise). Grill* the salmon for 2-3 minutes per side – we like our salmon rare-medium. We usually start with the flesh side down. Once the salmon is done to your liking, remove it from the grill and drizzle over the remaining coconut lime sauce. Sprinkle the coconut flakes on top and serve hot with a wedge of fresh lime.
*To Broil – place on foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes. If salmon seems to be getting to cooked on top but not inside, lower heat to 350-400 degrees and bake until finished throughout to your liking.
adapted from cindalouskitchenblues.com
Maple Grilled Salmon (we LOVE this recipe and it works on the BBQ or under the broiler)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 lb salmon fillets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove fish from bag, reserving the marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes). Place fish on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side starting with flesh side down or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with marinade. Remove fish from grill; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
adapted from Cooking Light July, 2008
Honey Soy Grilled / Broiled Salmon
Prepared Grilled or Broiled The natural richness of salmon and its high amount of Omega-3’s makes it a great choice for a healthy meal that doesn’t need much added fat. By stuffing a mixture of fresh herbs into the fillets, through a pocket, the fish is infused with bright flavors. A light glaze during the cooking process is the final touch.
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut – melted)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb King Salmon
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds
lime wedges, optional garnish
Grilling directions – Preheat the grill over medium-high direct heat. Oil the grill grates. Finely chop the cilantro and scallion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Cut two 3-inch long slits through the skin lengthwise on the bottom of the salmon fillets, going about halfway into the salmon. Evenly stuff the slits with the herb mixture. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Stir together the lime juice, soy and honey until smooth. Place the salmon, skin side up, on the grill* and cook until well marked, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and continue to cook, brushing the tops with the sauce, until the fish is cooked through, about another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle the tops with the sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges.
Broiling* directions – Position an oven rack so that a baking sheet set on the rack is about 4-inches below the heat source. Preheat the broiler. Prepare the salmon as above and place the fillets, skin down, on a foil lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil, basting 3 to 4 times with the sauce, until just cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes.
adapted from adapted from Television Food Network May 2010
Enjoy! And be sure to show it all off here… we love seeing what you’ve created.