FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS ANY WAY YOU COOK IT, THEY'LL FALL HOOK, LINE AND SINKER FOR SALMON.
Salmon ranks third (following shrimp and tuna) as the most popular fish choice in the American diet.
``Meaty, flavorful, high in fat and packed with health-enhancing omega-3 fatty acids, fresh wild salmon is the ideal fish to serve for weeknight meals and parties,'' write Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison, authors of ``Fast Fish'' (Ten Speed Press; $19.95).
Although the fresh Pacific wild salmon season runs from April or May through early October, you can buy it frozen or canned year-round. When it's out of season, some consumers and restaurants opt for serving farm- raised fresh Atlantic salmon, which is available all year. Assume that salmon not labeled wild is farm-raised, but ask to be sure.
Due to a moratorium on net pen fish farming in California, you won't find any farm-raised salmon produced in this state. Alaska also has no salmon farms. However farm-raised salmon comes from many other locations including Oregon, British Columbia, Maine, Chile, Norway and Scotland.
But be aware that all farm-raised salmon is not the same. There are some boutique farmers offering high-quality farm-raised salmon.
Salmon prices vary, too. Wild (fresh or frozen) Pacific salmon usually costs more than farm-raised Atlantic salmon, even when wild is in season. Currently, farm-raised fresh fillets or steaks range from about $4 to $11 per pound, while frozen wild salmon is in the neighborhood of $14 per pound, and fresh wild (depending on species) in season commands anywhere from $10 to $22 or $24 a pound (Copper River king).
Controversy and buzz swirl around eating wild Pacific salmon vs. farm- raised Atlantic salmon. Which is preferable? In the end, it boils down to consumer preference; economic, environmental and health concerns; and personal risk-benefit assessment.
``The challenges of wild vs. farmed salmon are both environmental and economic,'' writes Diane Morgan in her book, ``Salmon, a Cookbook'' (Chronicle Books; $24.95), a colorful volume filled with a wealth of salmon industry information along with 75 recipes.
``The bottom line is that we have Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon - and (wild) Atlantic salmon was wiped out in the 1960s by greed and sonar.'' Today, Atlantic salmon is widely farmed - a practice that began in Norway in the late '60s and early '70s. Currently a handful of multinational companies control most of the farms.
Over the years, pollutants, antibiotics in feed, excess feed and feces on the ocean floor and other factors have been cause for concern, adds Morgan. In addition, because farm fish aren't swimming freely and feeding naturally (they're penned), they are gray in color, requiring that either synthetic or natural color be added (and labeled as such by law).
In a nutshell, the controversy comes down to ``are we going to wipe out all natural species of fish (and go to aquaculture) or are we going to preserve the environment and let fish be sustainable and harvestable as wild species?'' says Morgan.
``Alaska is the model for the world - it is the most regulated state for sustaining wild salmon stocks. It has high yields of harvestable fish because it controls how much fishermen can catch and when.
``California, Oregon and Washington are regulating the amounts of fish that can be caught, but the dams are one of the biggest problems. The fish can't get around them or upstream - and you lose the population on that river,'' says Morgan.
Alaska produces 90 percent to 95 percent of the U.S. harvest of wild salmon - and about half of the nation's entire commercial seafood catch along its 34,000-mile coastline, says Laura Flemming, communications director of the Juneau-based Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
``Most everyone says that wild salmon is better than farmed salmon, but I remain unconvinced,'' writes James Peterson in ``Simply Salmon'' (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; $22.50).
``High-quality Scottish farm-raised fresh salmon from the Shetland Islands is always among our top 10 seafood sellers,'' notes Ted Bassetti, Sherman-Oaks based assistant regional seafood coordinator for Whole Foods Market, adding that the market also carries wild Pacific salmon in season and flash-frozen Pacific salmon.
Bassetti, who eats both wild and farmed salmon, finds farm-raised Atlantic salmon richer than wild salmon, but with similar texture.
Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium advises consumers to avoid all farm-raised Atlantic salmon, recommending only wild Pacific salmon for environmental reasons, notes Jennifer Bianto, program manager of Seafood Watch, an organization focused on the environmental impact of fisheries and fish farms and alerting consumers to seafood health-risk advisories (related to dioxins, pesticides, PCBs, etc.) from a variety of sources.
While various species of fresh wild salmon are offered in season (May to September) at King's Fish House in Calabasas, at other times, farm-raised fresh Atlantic salmon is served, notes sous-chef Aleandro Acosta, adding that salmon and halibut are the top two sellers.
When buying salmon, be sure it has no smell or odor other than a slightly salty-breeze or hint-of-ocean aroma, says Bassetti. It should be moist (including any skin) and a healthy pink color. If buying a whole salmon, look for clear eyes, bright red gills and moist skin.
If you can't cook salmon the day it's purchased, keep refrigerated and use within two or three days at most, advises Bassetti. Otherwise freeze it. Before cooking, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours for best results.
Whether you opt for wild or farmed salmon, it's a versatile fish.
``You can grill it, smoke it, pan-fry it, pan-grill it, roast it, poach it, slow-roast it and cure it,'' says Morgan, a culinary instructor, freelance food writer and author of 10 other cookbooks.
One of her favorite ways to cook it - particularly easy for the beginning cook - is slow roasting - which takes 20 minutes in a preheated 250-degree oven. She also favors using a grill pan. To keep the salmon moist, cook just until it begins to flake.
Nutritionally, it's one of the best protein sources. A 4-ounce cooked salmon steak contains just under 200 calories.
Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692
GRILLED SALMON TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE SAUCE
1 salmon fillet (1 1/2 pounds), skin on and scaled, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Blackening Spice
Vegetable oil for brushing
12 corn tortillas
1/2 head cabbage (8 ounces), cored and finely shredded (about 5 cups)
3 green onions, including green tops, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ripe tomatoes, halved crosswise, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium. Arrange salmon, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Oil skin generously with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Turn salmon over and rub flesh side all over with Blackening Spice. Using your fingertips, lightly dab remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over Blackening Spice.
When ready to grill, brush grill grate generously with vegetable oil. Grill salmon, skin side up, directly over fire. Cover grill and cook on one side 4 minutes. Turn and cover again. Cook about 5 minutes more, until almost opaque throughout, but still very moist or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 to 130 degrees F. Transfer to a cutting board and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, place tortillas in a covered heatproof container or sealed foil packet. Warm tortillas in a preheated 250-degree oven 15 minutes before serving.
In a medium serving bowl, toss together cabbage, green onions and lime juice. Place tomatoes in a small serving bowl. Slice salmon crosswise into 12 strips, lift salmon off its skin, and arrange on a warm serving plate. Discard skin. Transfer warm tortillas to a serving plate.
Let each diner assemble his or her own tortilla. To assemble, spread a generous spoonful of Chipotle Sauce down middle of a tortilla, arrange a strip of salmon on top, mound with a bit of the cabbage mixture and garnish with some diced tomatoes. Makes 12 tortillas; 6 servings.
BLACKENING SPICE: Combine 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoons freshly ground pepper, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon dried thyme and 1 tablespoon dried oregano in a small bowl. Stir well to blend. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Use in recipe above or on red snapper, swordfish, catfish, shrimp and scallops. This mixture is also good when rubbed into burgers, flank steak and pork tenderloin. Makes about 2/3 cup.
CHIPOTLE SAUCE: In a small serving bowl, mix together 1 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons buttermilk OR sour cream, 2 minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon kosher OR sea salt. Cover and set aside for up to 45 minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
From ``Salmon, a Cookbook,'' by Diane Morgan.
1 salmon fillet (12 ounces), skin and pin bones removed
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher OR sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Place salmon in a shallow baking dish, rub all over with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Bake fish in a preheated 250- degree oven until the fat between the layers turns opaque, almost white, and fish flakes slightly when pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Alternatively, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the salmon; when it registers 125 to 130 degrees F, the fish is done. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a nonstick skillet or saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat and swirl to coat pan. Add ginger, onion, celery and bell pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, thyme, chives and parsley. Stir to blend. Using a fork, flake salmon into small pieces and add to mixing bowl. Add vegetables. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix ingredients, being careful not to mash salmon. Form mixture into 12 cakes about 1 3/4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place salmon cakes on a rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes or up to 8 hours.
To finish and fry salmon cakes, spread panko crumbs on a dinner plate and roll salmon cakes in panko, coating all sides well. Set aside. In a large saute pan, preferably cast iron, heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter and oil over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat pan. Working in batches and without crowding pan, brown salmon cakes on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip them over and brown other side, about 3 minutes longer. Serve immediately, accompanied with jicama or other slaw, as desired. Makes 12 salmon cakes; 6 servings as an appetizer.
From ``Salmon, a Cookbook,'' by Diane Morgan.
HONEY MUSTARD-SEARED SALMON AND CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS WITH WATERCRESS
1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons honey mustard
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup creme fraiche OR heavy whipping cream
1 cup watercress sprigs
Season salmon lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Smear fish on both sides with mustard.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter. Sear salmon over high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides and just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer salmon to a platter. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet and cook shallots over medium-high heat, stirring until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add wine, and simmer 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in creme fraiche, and simmer, stirring, until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return fish to sauce just to heat through, about 30 seconds.
Arrange salmon on a platter or on 4 plates. Spoon sauce over fish, then top with watercress sprigs.
From ``A Flash in the Pan, Fast Fabulous Recipes in a Single Skillet,'' by Brooke Dojny and Melanie Barnard.
ROASTED SALMON WITH ROASTED PLUM TOMATOES & CARAMELIZED LEMONS
4 plum tomatoes, quartered
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (7- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 1/2 inches at their thickest point
Handful fresh dill sprigs
1 lemon, cut in half
Place plum tomatoes in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and scatter thyme sprigs over all. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven about 15 to 20 minutes, until tomatoes are softened but still retain their shape. Cover loosely with foil and set aside.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Lay salmon fillets, skin sides down, with some space between them on a baking sheet or baking dish. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and cover with dill. Squeeze 1/2 of lemon over all. Bake until firm, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice remaining lemon half into 1/4-inch slices. Heat a skillet over high heat. Film bottom of pan with olive oil and add lemon slices. Saute until brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove foil from tomatoes. Discard herb sprigs. Places tomatoes on a cutting board and roughly chop. Spoon chopped tomatoes into center of each of 2 plate. Lay a piece of salmon over tomatoes and lay lemon slices to side of salmon. Serve immediately.
From ``Food Network Favorites: Recipes from Our All-Star Chefs.''
Varieties of Pacific Coast salmon, native to North America:
KING OR CHINOOK
Has the highest oil content of all five species of wild salmon and the richest flavor. The largest of all Pacific salmon, most weigh 15 to 20 pounds but can be up to 120 pounds. Color ranges from off-white to pinkish or bright red. Wild king salmon are usually available from mid-May until late September. Copper River king salmon can be found in the marketplace in May and June. This salmon is often smoked due to the fat content, which helps the flesh retain its moistness.
COHO OR SILVER
Close in flavor to chinook (but with a lower oil content), but smaller in size - 8 to 12 pounds. Has firmly textured flesh that ranges from deep red to pinkish orange. Season is from July to early October with peak in August.
SOCKEYE OR RED
Popular as a premium canning variety and for smoking, this salmon ranges from 5 to 15 pounds, with most around 6 pounds. Bright deep-orange flesh with a high fat content. Supply peaks in July.
PINK OR HUMPBACK
The most numerous of all Pacific salmon species (representing about 50 percent of all salmon caught in Alaska), this species averages 3 to 5 pounds. Flesh is pale pink and lean with a milder flavor than other species. Used widely for canning.
CHUM OR KETA
Lightest in color and lowest in fat, chum weigh about 8 to 10 pounds.
Average between 5 and 9 pounds. Flesh is bright red and rich or pink to white, depending on diet. A top sport fish in North America.
- Natalie Haughton
Sources: ``Salmon, a Cookbook,'' by Diane Morgan, and ``Fast Fish,'' by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison.
6 photo, box
(1 -- cover -- color) Salmon is king
Grilled, broiled, roasted or poached, popular fish shows its versatility
Photo by E.J. Armstrong from ``Salmon, a Cookbook,'' Chronicle Books
(2 -- color) ROASTED SALMON WITH ROASTED PLUM TOMATOES & CARAMELIZED LEMONS
From ``Food Network Favorites: Recipes From Our All-Star Chefs,'' Meredith Books
(3 -- color) SALMON CAKES
Photo by E.J. Armstrong from ``Salmon, a Cookbook,'' Chronicle Books
(4 -- color) Serve store-bought or homemade smoked salmon on crostini and top with a dollop of mascarpone cheese, a little arugula and sliced fried shallots.
CROSTINI WITH SMOKED SALMON
Photo by Sang An from ``Smoked Salmon, Delicious Innovative Recipes,'' Chronicle Books
(5 -- color) GRILLED SALMON TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE SAUCE
(6 -- color) HONEY MUSTARD-SEARED SALMON AND CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS WITH WATERCRESS
Fish finder (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 21, 2006|
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