09 Mar Salmon: In the Pink
a test kitchen dossier
Salmon are like men: too soft a life is not good for them.
– James de Coquet
From the Old French salmun or Latin salmonem, possibly originally “leaper,” from salire “to leap,” though some dismiss this as folk etymology. Another theory traces it to Celtic origin; salmon replaced the Old English læx, the more usual word for the fish.
Area of Origin
Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Great Lakes and other land-locked lakes.
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish of the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the family are called trout.
Salmon are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to spawn. It is generally believed that salmon return to the exact spot where they were born to reproduce, and research has shown that upwards of 90% of spawning fish in a particular stream were born there. Pacific salmon die in the weeks following their spawning, and other species may survive to spawn more than once, but generally die after 2 or 3 spawnings at most.
The cultures of the Coastal Northwest of North America have long been tied to salmon. The natives of the Pacific Northwest have ceremonies to welcome the return of spawning salmon. In Japan, natives of the northern coast even taught their dogs to catch salmon!
Salmon has become one of the most popular fish due to its high protein and low fat levels, and also because it has relatively high levels of antioxidant rich Omega-3 fatty acids. Because of the positive effects observed from Omega-3 acids, many claim that eating more salmon is good for the skin, and some even claim it as a treatment for acne.
Most Atlantic salmon is farmed, and the majority of Pacific salmon are wild-caught. Farmed salmon outnumber wild 85 to 1; there is debate about the relative safety of farmed vs. wild salmon, as well as the quality of texture in the flesh of farmed salmon due to its lesser levels of physical activity (note our quote from James de Coquet above). Farmed salmon generally has higher levels of dioxins and PCB’s than wild, but still falls well within acceptable levels. Although the USDA has issued recommendations that pregnant women limit their intake of certain kinds of fish, salmon – whether farmed or wild – generally has the lowest methylmercury contamination levels of all fish.
Salmon flesh is orange to red in color, variations of which are accounted for by the amount of krill and other tiny shellfish eaten by the salmon; the coloring is a result of the carotenoids present in shellfish. Some farmed salmon is dyed with a pinkish orange color because the feed they are raised on does not have high amounts of pigment from carotenoids found in the wild.
Varieties of Salmon for Cooking
In addition to whole raw salmon, the fish can be purchased in several other forms: Canned salmon is commonly available and is useful in recipes like salmon croquettes, because it has already been cooked and flaked. Perhaps the most popular prepared form of salmon is smoked, and can either be hot- or cold-smoked. Lox can refer either to cold smoked salmon or to salmon cured in a brine solution, which is called gravlax in Scandinavia.
Given salmon’s versatility, we’ve decided to showcase that by presenting it in various forms from whole to flaked to smoked. It is a staple in our kitchen, not only for its nutritional value but also for its flavor and texture. As it is a hearty fish, its meaty texture lends itself well to dinner dishes.
Salmon Fettucini with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette
Grilled Teriyaki Salmon Bites
Eggs with Caviar and Salmon Rosettes
Smoked Salmon and Caviar “Pizza”
Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Shredded Cabbage and Bailey’s Irish Cream Sauce
Moroccan Spiced Smoked Salmon
Salmon with Lemon-Thyme Persillade Crust & Spiced Parsley Mayonnaise
Hoi Polloi Salmon
Photo by Kelly Cline
Sources: Wikipedia, Etymology Online