What's the catch of the day? Salmon-of course. Earning high marks for many healthful attributes, all varieties of salmon are high in protein as well as a rich source of vitamin A, the B-group vitamins and Omega-3 oils.
Due to industrial pollution of both North American and European tributaries, the once-abundant Atlantic salmon are today less common than the more popular Pacific salmon.
Types of Salmon
The Atlantic salmon has a high-fat flesh that is pink and succulent. Canada provides most of the available Atlantic salmon, which is in season from summer to early winter.
Among the more popular Pacific salmon is the superior Chinook or king salmon, which can reach up to 120 pounds in seven years. The color of its high-fat, soft textured flesh ranges from off-white to bright red.
Other high-fat salmon include the coho or silver salmon, with its firm textured, pink to red-orange flesh. The sockeye or red salmon-highly prized for canning¯has a firm, deep red flesh.
Less fatty salmon species are the pink or humpback salmon: the smallest, most delicately flavored of the Pacific varieties. And the chum or dog salmon, which is known for having the lightest color and lowest fat content. Pacific salmon are in season from spring through fall.
The majority of Pacific salmon is wild-caught, whereas the vast majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market is farmed.
Farmed, or aquacultured, salmon are typically fed with meal that is produced from wild "by product" fish.
An increasing volume of aquacultured salmon is imported into the United States today. Although raised in salt water, salmon aficionados say farmed flesh typically lacks the rich nuances in flavor and texture of their wild relations.
Depending on the variety, salmon is available fresh, frozen, canned/ pouched whole or in fillets or steaks. It's also available smoked.
In order to produce smoked salmon, fresh salmon undergoes a smoking process by one of two methods: hot-smoking or cold-smoking. Hot-smoking is a process by which the fish is smoked from 6 to 12 hours at temperatures ranging from 120° to 180°F. The time and temperature depend on the size of the fish, how close it is to the source of smoke and the degree of flavor desired. In coldsmoking, a temperature of 70° to 90°F is maintained and the fish might remain in the smokehouse for anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks. Subvarieties of smoked salmon include: Indian-cure salmon: brined fish, cold-smoked for up to 2 weeks, resulting in a form of salmon jerky Kippered salmon: (U.S. style) chunk, steak or fillet, soaked in a mild brine and hot-smoked.
Lox: brine-cured cold-smoked, slightly saltier than other smoked salmon.
Squaw candy: thin strips of salmon that have been cured in a salt-sugar brine before being hot-smoked.
The flesh of high-quality, fresh salmon is firm and resilient and the skin is shiny. Inspect orders immediately upon delivery. Boxes with watermarks may indicate thawing and refreezing during transit. Check the temperatures of shipments. Fresh fish should be at 30° to 38°F and frozen fish at 0° to 10° F.
Never allow frozen fish to thaw until it is ready to be used. Refreezing severely alters the quality of the product. Store whole, cleaned fresh or freshly thawed salmon in a stainless steel pan with good drainage and cover with a towel and pile ice on top of and around the fish.
For high-volume occasions, protect the frozen product in a plastic bag then immerse in cold spray water. To maintain the quality of the product, do not allow the salmon to come directly in contact with the water or let the running water "drill" into the plastic bag. Once thawed, keep chilled and covered until ready to use.
Smoked Salmon Frittata
YIELD: 4 Frittatas, 32 servings
2 cups red onion, diced
1/4 cup sweet butter
48 eggs, extra-large
4 cups heavy cream
1 lb. feta cheese with basil, crumbled
1 40 oz. pouch of premium pink salmon
1 cup green onions, chopped
3/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F. For each frittata, sautè 1/2 cup onion and 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch oven-proof pan until tender. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, beat 1 dozen eggs until creamy. Add 1 cup of cream, 4 oz. Feta cheese, half pound salmon, 1/4 cup green onions, 3 Tbsps. dill, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper; blend well.
- Pour salmon mixture over onions. Place the omelet pan in the center of the oven. Bake for 50 minutes or until it puffs and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Slice into 8 wedges and serve immediately.
Recipe and photo from Chicken of the Sea