Salmon, trout, whitefish, chars and grayling are all from the same family of fish known as salmonidae. Originally native to the Pacific Ocean and the North Atlantic, salmon have now been introduced to many waters around the globe, as well as being successfully farmed.
Being anadromous, meaning they are born in freshwater, migrate to saltwater and return to freshwater to spawn, they are gifted with the ability to navigate waterfalls and rapids. Salmon are known to jump and have been recorded jumping as high as 12 feet on their journey back to freshwater to spawn.
The red flesh associated with salmon is due to their diet that is rich in carotenoids, the same pigment that gives carrots their orange colour. Plankton, krill, shrimp, eel and smaller fish make up the majority of their diet. And it’s not just us that eat salmon, dolphins, whales, seals and sea lions also feast on them as well as bears and birds, depending on the stage they are in their life cycle.
Preparing And Cooking Salmon
Skin On Or Off?
Many people prefer to remove the skin prior to cooking, but this is not always a good idea. The salmon skin is packed with goodness and flavour as well as being very tasty. If you are adding your salmon to a pie or plan to poach it, then take the skin off, but for pan frying, baking and grilling, leave it on.
If you do remove the skin, season with salt and pepper, grill it and serve as a accompaniment to your dish, it’s lovely, crisp and full of goodness.
Be sure to scale it though, as this will add to your enjoyment when eating.
Dealing with Small bone
Remove any pin bones with kitchen tweezers and avoid the temptation to push and poke and fight with the flesh, as this will increase the chance that the fish will not fall apart during cooking and and not cook evenly. Pull any bones out in the same direction that they lay in, this will simplify the task.
Cooking Your Salmon
The golden rule when cooking salmon is don’t over do it. Aim for just ready or just under done and finish off in its own heat. The worst thing you can do to salmon is leave it under the heat for too long and all of a sudden you’ve got fish that is tough and chewy.
If you are grilling, of pan frying, start skin side down on high heat until the skin is crispy, then turn, lower the heat and cook till just under done. Remove from the fire and let sit for a minute or two as this will complete the cooking.
To check whether it is ready, gently pull apart one of the sections of the fish – it should be rich in colour, just turning between translucent and pink.
How To Enjoy
Serve with asparagus and sauté potatoes. And while you’re enjoying your meal, revel in the health benefits too: vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, amino acid taurine, omega-3 fatty acids and lots lots more.
Why not make salmon a regular feature in your diet!