Wild Pacific Salmon – In Season Now!
Oh yeah! It is time. Fresh Wild Pacific Salmon is swimming to an establishment near you!
Run, don’t walk, to your nearest fish house/store/boutique/distributor/fishing vessel and ask for the fresh Wild Pacific Salmon.
“Why?” You ask. Because it’s freaking awesome. And because it is not Farmed Atlantic Salmon. And because there is no comparison between the two.
That being said, allow me to compare.
I’ll give you my first-hand street-wise experience version first:
1. Atlantic salmon is only available farmed. You don’t know what is in it. It tends to be bland, thin, greyish in color and quite often, died pink/red so it can look like fresh Wild Pacific Salmon. I know this because I hate it when that’s the only option available.
2. Wild Pacific Salmon is thick and full of flavor. It has quite the “wow” factor. It is naturally pink (never gray) from it’s nice healthy diet of crustaceans that they consume as they “gorge before their long journey home” to spawn (because they apparently don’t eat on the way home).
What do the critics say?
You won’t have to go very far to find the folks wildly unhappy about farmed Atlantic salmon. I can’t totally disagree with them, either. Grey, flat fish with food coloring. Eww. That doesn’t mean I haven’t eaten it. I’ve just now become a salmon snob…if that’s a thing?
There is a great book by Barton Seaver, called “For Cod and Country.” His cookbook focuses on “simple, delicious, sustainable cooking.” He’s a fish freak, like me, and he loves to grill. Naturally, I’m a fan.
Get your education here!
In his book, this is how he articulately defines the difference between the two fishes:
Pg. 35 “Farmed Salmon”
In general, farmed Atlantic salmon tends to be bland and, from an environmental point of view, unsustainable. There are, however, some producers making great-quality product as well as breaking ground, or making waves, with new technologies that reduce some of the negative environmental impact of salmon farms. Farmed salmon is a prime example of how we have gotten ahead of overselves with our food production. High-density net pens wreak havoc on local ecosystems, endangering the indigenous salmon by allowing diseases and parasites carried by farm-raised fish to spread. Further, these farms can threaten the overal health of the ecosystem through a buildup of waste product. There are other issues surrounding farmed salmon. To learn more, go to www.farmedanddangerous.org. But don’t stop there, also visit www.cleanfish.com to search out some of the great progressive farms that are making change happen, like Loch Duart in Scotland.
Pg. 35 “Wild Salmon”
Fresh wild salmon is available as the different types of salmon come into season. Wild Alaskan salmon is very well managed; in fact, it is a model fishery, showing how we can succeed in responsibly feeding ourselves. The first salmon runs begin in the late spring and continue through the fall. As they begin their return to the rivers of their birth to spawn, these fish are fat and full of flavor, having gorged themselves to bulk up for the long journey home, during which they do not eat. Wild salmon is also avaiable frozen.
There are five types commonly available: king salmon is the richest, sockeye is the gamiest, coho is the most balanced in flavor, pink the lightest in flavor, and keta is the most similar to good quality farmed-Atlantic salmon.
Mr. Seaver goes on to say that he is on a mission to introduce pink salmon to everyone – based on its flavor and it is more plentiful and therefore cheaper.
So all of this is well and good, but I must throw in an-almost game changing statement from my fiancé.
Me: Guess what I’m grilling tonight?
Him: Blank look (He knows I’ll tell him anyway.)
Me: Wild Pacific Salmon!
Him: Blank look. (All he heard was “salmon.”)
Me: No. Not ANY salmon. This is the good stuff! It is wild. Pacific. Wild from the Pacific.
Him: Blank look. (Now he knows a story is coming.)
Me: I tell the story about the difference between farmed and wild. The two oceans. The different fishes. Then I break into the crescendo with how they are full and juicy because they were eating before they head home to spawn.
Him: You mean that fish was actually swimming free and happy in the ocean and excited to go home and spawn and now he will never make it because you’re grilling him for dinner?
Sigh. Well. Yeah.
*Mental note – tell those stories AFTER dinner.*
Know what though? The salmon was delicious. And choosing sustainable sources of food is better for the environment.
I literally just grilled it (recipe below) and ate it “as is” with no sauces/butters/spices. Yum.
Editor’s note: I went to double check the timing of the Wild Pacific Salmon season and found this great site with an author’s passionate blog post about Wild Pacific Salmon. She has some great looking recipes, too. Check ‘em out!
Grilled Wild Pacific Salmon
- 1 lb Fresh Wild Pacific Salmon
- 2 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
- 1/2 tsp salt (I like ground pink Himalayan rock salt)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- Heat grill to medium heat (about 325 deg F).
- Lightly coat the salmon with the grapeseed oil.
- Place on the grill skin side down first and cook on each side for 6-8 minutes. (Salmon is a sushi favorite so can be served at a variety of "doneness." It is fully cooked when it flakes easy with a fork.