Feeling Fishy? The Health Benefits of Salmon and How to Best Enjoy Them

July 25, 2015

Fish in general is an incredibly healthy food to eat. The biggest selling point is the omega 3 fatty acids. There are very few things on this earth that contain this magical fatty acid that our body cannot produce and yet, we need this for our bodies to thrive. Among the list of the omega 3 fatty acids (from here on referred to as O3FA) benefits are: it lowers your blood triglycerides (which cause heart disease), can aid in curbing arthritic pain, helps with infant brain development, also aids with other anti-inflammatory functions. In case you didn’t know, inflammation is linked with cancer. Cancer loves inflammation!  And the list of benefits goes on…..literally.

So which fish has the most O3FAs? Salmon! Sockeye salmon ranks as the number one source of O3FAs. The second would be Atlantic salmon……but our recommendation would be to avoid Atlantic salmon like the plague. Would you like to know why? “Atlantic salmon” is code for farmed salmon. Farmed salmon should be avoided. You never know what the conditions of the farm are. Many (not all) farms are not kept well. They can live in their own filth and breed diseases that carry over to your dinner table. Not only that, but farmed salmon get very little exercise and therefore have a much higher (and lower quality) fat content. Farmed salmon are fed grains and vegetable oils that are highly unnatural and packs them full of omega 6's. This actually counteracts the benefits of the omega 3's in our bodies. Wild salmon are just superior in every way. 

When choosing a piece of salmon there are many factors that influence our choice; farmed vs fresh, price, previously frozen, how you plan to cook it and of course what is available at that time. Here’s a short list of a few types of salmon and their respective pros and cons:
King (aka Chinook) Salmon is the best salmon available. Last I checked an entire side of this beast runs you around 400 dollars! Prized for its spectacular fat content (which means more O3FAs), this fish is very forgiving when cooking.

bbq salmon.jpg

Sockeye is oilier with a beautiful deep red color and best suited for the grill. The price tag on this guy is much less, definitely manageable for the “every man.”

Even cheaper still we have Coho, very light in color with a high fat content. You often see farmed Coho in the lower quality sushi restaurants; it has a nice mouth feel when raw.
Finally we have pink and chum salmon. The cheapest option as well as the smallest sized salmon. These guys are best suited for canning or smoking.

Now that you are armed with this knowledge, let’s discuss the best part………..how we can eat it! A classic French dish loved by many is Salmon Buerre Blanc (which translates to salmon in white butter). A buerre blanc is a very rich butter sauce, very similar to a hollandaise. Since butter and wine are the main components, as long as the butter is organic and you eat it in moderation, this recipe is very healthy! There is a little bit of technique involved, but once you master this you will impress everyone with your skill in the kitchen. Give it a try! What have you got to lose?

Salmon Buerre Blanc

Salmon: Salmon filets                           5 oz is a good portion size
Salt and Pepper                      pinch
Coconut Oil                             tbsp

Make sure to pat your fish dry on both sides, and then season on both sides. Do this when ready to cook and not before, otherwise the salt will suck out all the salmon’s moisture. It is important to let your fish sit out of the fridge for about a half an hour before cooking it. Heat the pan to medium high, and add the coconut oil. Always go skin side first. To get a nice crispy skin, keep the salmon on the skin side for 70% of the cook time (this goes for all fish). Roughly 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet. Then flip it and cook about 3 minutes on the other side. Be sure you don’t move it around too much, and don’t smush it down in the pan to make it cook faster, that also leeches the moisture. This should get you just in between medium and medium well. This is a very easy and simple way to cook a piece of salmon, and it is highly recommended that you try this way if you’ve never tried your hand at fish. Oh! And make sure you leave the salmon a lot of room in your pan, or you’ll end up boiling it.

Classic Buerre Blanc (500ml): 
White wine                                                                          15 ml
White wine vinegar                                                            63 ml
Sea Salt                                                                                 3.5 g
White pepper                                                                      5 g (black is fine too)
Shallots, minced                                                                 15g
Whole organic butter (unsalted and chilled)                 454g

The first step is to make a reduction (this is the act of cooking liquid down until the flavor is very strong and not much liquid remains). So combine all the ingredients except the butter in a saucepan and reduce until approximately 30 ml of liquid is left (any more and it will be too thin). Now cut the butter into pieces (roughly 30g each). Over low heat, whisk the chilled butter into the reduction a few pieces at a time (this will keep the sauce between 43 and 49 C). Now strain it and serve! (Straining is optional, I like a bit of shallot in it personally). One thing to note about this sauce is that like hollandaise, you can't make it in advance. If it gets too cold, it will solidify. If it gets too hot, the proteins in the butter will break down and release the fat, causing the sauce to separate. If you screw anything up, don’t let it be forgetting to buy UNSALTED butter. Trust me……you’d end up with a salt flavoured mess.

Since it’s summer, and we’ve been experiencing a ridiculous heat wave, perhaps you’d like to keep the heat outside of your house! Let’s take a look at grilling salmon.

As previously mentioned, sockeye is perfect for the grill due to the oily nature of its fat content. It’s like built in Teflon! (You should still grease your grill a little *chuckle).  Here is a very simple summer salmon recipe and should you choose to, feel free to do a whole side of salmon if you’re up to the challenge. It is a little more difficult to cook an entire side of fish, so we’re going to stick with the 5 oz filets for this recipe.

Maple Glazed Grilled Salmon:

Salmon Filets                                              5 oz
Salt and Pepper                                          Pinch
Coconut oil (for the grill)                          As needed

The Glaze:
Maple Syrup                                               1/3 cup
Whole Grain Mustard                               3 tbsp
Cider Vinegar                                              1 tsp
Fresh Thyme                    ½ tsp
Sea Salt and pepper                                   TT

Get your grill fired up to a medium high flame (375 f to 425 f) and make sure it’s been cleaned off really well. Now you’ll need an oven safe sauce pan (frying pan works fine). Get your pan heated up and add all your glaze ingredients. Now close the grill and let the sauce heat up 3-4 min, just until it comes to a boil and then remove from the grill. Now that your grill is nice and hot, warm some coconut oil and dip a rag in it. Use that to oil your grill, and brush a bit on the filets after you pat them dry. Now season both sides of each filet aggressively. Place them skin side down on the grill and close the grill for about 3 minutes. You are looking for the skin to crisp and for grill marks to start to form. Using a heat proof flat spatula, carefully flip your filets and brush the glaze on (should be skin side up). Now close the lid another 2-4 minutes. Closing the lid helps with the urge to fiddle with them hahaha. That should do it! Now just brush a little more glaze on and serve immediately! A perfectly simple summer protein for your barbeque!

While we’re talking about grilling, why not take a look at one more summer salmon recipe; the salmon burger:

For the bun, we recommend either a good lettuce wrap or a good quality sprouted grain bun such as spelt or kamut. What you put on said bun is entirely up to you (mango/papaya salsa? hint hint), we don’t need to tell you what you like. For the type of salmon, cheapest is best in this application. Here is the burger mix:

Summer Salmon Burgers (makes 8~ 3 inch around, ½ inch thick patties)

Salmon                2 lbs (skinless, pin bones removed)
Large Organic Eggs             2
Fresh Dill                 3 tbsp
Sea Salt                2 tsp
Fresh Black Pepper            1 tsp
Shallot (medium)             1 (medium dice)
Celery Seeds                 ¼ tsp
Sprouted Grain Breadcrumbs        ¼ cup
Coconut Oil (for the grill)

Put everything but the salmon, crumbs and oil in your food processor. Pulse it just enough to get everything combined (4 or 5 times). Now add 1/3 of the salmon and get it chopped a bit (4 or 5 pulses) and continue to add a third at a time pulsing as you go. You should be seeing small, medium and large chunks of salmon. Give it a couple pulses to get it incorporated well, but be sure not to over process the mix or you’ll have some very tough and dry patties. Transfer the mix to a mixing bowl with the bread crumbs and mix it all in real good, and then form your patties. When cooking burgers, unless you are using sushi grade salmon you should be cooking the fish all the way through (once you put meat into a food processor, all the contaminated areas that can be cleansed through heat are mixed up all throughout the product so you have to make sure to cook it through). Now just fire up the grill (medium high), get it nice and hot, oil it and place the patties on the grill. Cook them about 5 minutes under a closed grill (undisturbed) and then flip and cook about another 4 minutes. Done! So easy, so simple!

 We hope you enjoy your summer!

252 Like(s)