In 2013, Americans consumed an average of 2.7 pounds of salmon per person, making it the second favorite seafood behind shrimp. Salmon offers a host of nutritional and medicinal benefits due primarily to its high Omega 3 oil content.
Omega 3 fish oil must be gained through the diet; it is not manufactured by the body. Studies have found it assists in muscle activity and cell growth, as well as the reduction of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, cholesterol, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The American Heart Association recommends the dietary intake be 3-4 ounces of high quality salmon two times a week. One three ounce serving has 4 – 11 grams of total fat and the Omega 3 value ranges from 700-1800 mL per three ounce serving. All varieties of salmon provide vitamins and minerals and are particularly high in selenium. Selenium is a component of antioxidant enzymes that regulate the thyroid gland. The content of Omega 3 varies according to the type of salmon.
Types of Salmon
There are six types of salmon harvested in the United States. Atlantic, Chinook (King), Chum (Keta), Coho, Pink, and Sockeye. Most of the wild fisheries are in the Pacific and off the coast of Alaska. The Atlantic salmon is often from farmed fisheries. Salmon is also imported to the States from Norway, Chile, and Canada.
The Copper River Valley of Alaska is renowned for its pristine waters and abundant wild caught salmon. Each year, for three or four weeks during May – June, the Copper River salmon arrive at markets and restaurants in the States. It’s a very short season, but Simply THE best salmon around!!! Many chefs plan their seasonal menus around this catch for early summer.
Keta salmon are pale orange/pink color and have a pronounced flavor. This variety is more lean than King or Coho and works well in dry heat cooking methods. The Coho has bright silvery sides, with an orange flesh a much lighter flavor than the King or Sockeye. This fish is moderately fatty and is good for poaching. The Sockeye salmon is a firm fish with a stronger flavor. Lastly, the King salmon, which is the largest of the Pacific salmon, has a red silky flesh, a rich buttery flavor, and a high oil content.
Wild vs. Farmed
There continues to be controversy surrounding whether it is best to consume wild caught or farmed fish. Each side offers up a great amount of support for their own fishery practices. The government has inspections and specific criteria for each method, however, it might be beneficial to know your fishmonger. Ask them when the fish came in, is it wild or farmed? Another good source is to check out the Marine Stewardship Council’s website. They are a third-party association that monitors fisheries and oceans, much like the organics division of the USDA. Additionally, mercury levels have been found to be highest in swordfish, King mackerel, shark, tilefish and tuna – not salmon.
Selection and Preparation
When selecting a salmon fillet, steak, or whole fish, keep in mind the firmness of the fish and lack of fish odor. Salmon often has tiny hair-size bones, so be sure to run a hand over the fish and remove any bones. Prior to preparation, always dry the fish with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
Salmon can be prepared with either dry or wet heat methods. This recipe calls for a wet heat method–poaching. Simply bring an inch of water to a high heat, place the fish in the pan and cover. Quick and easy, it cooks in about four to six minutes. Microwaving fish is not recommended because the microwaves dry the fish, leaving it tasteless, dry, and flaky.
This recipe works because it packs a powerful punch of protein and Omega 3’s in one sitting. Ideal for breakfast, it can be made in about 6 minutes. If time is short, poach the salmon the night before and refrigerate. Simply heat a skillet with hot water, slide the fish into the water and it’s done in 3 minutes. The addition of an egg enhances the protein in the dish and provides longer satiety. The arugula offers a bit of peppery texture and a host of vitamins!
Poached Salmon with Eggs (serves 2)
2 3-4 oz. Salmon fillets
2 eggs (or egg whites)
1 bunch arugula
1 Tbsp Benecol® (plant based butter product)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Additional Ingredients for consideration:
- Egg whites instead of whole eggs
- Tofu instead of eggs
- Add fresh dill or, for a bit of decadence, a little Hollandaise sauce
- Preheat skillet with 1 – 1/2 inch water on medium high heat
- Once water begins to bubble, place seasoned salmon into skillet and cover; cook 4 – 6 minutes, until fish begins to form white pockets on the top; remove from heat and cover with foil
- Prepare eggs or egg whites
- Using the same skillet, melt butter; add eggs/egg whites
- Prep arugula (wash/dry)
- Plate and enjoy!
- This dish cooks quickly
- Add a whole grain bagel if desired
- Substitute spinach for arugula
- If you need to eat on the run, shred the salmon, season with dill, place in a warm tortilla and go
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