Too many people around world love to have salmon on their daily dish and many of them know of its many benefits apart from its versatile taste and flavour. An abundant source of rare performance boosting nutrients, it is not only easy to cook, but also can be eaten raw, if you choose the ‘right’ stuff from the market.
What does the white stuff look like? The salmon’s taste, flavour, color, fat content and nutrient profile depend upon where it has been fished from. Let deep dive down there and learn all about how to choose the best Salmon, and create a healthy recipe.
The dark side of the Farmed Salmon
Apart from the synthetic version of astaxanthin, the other components of the Farmed Salmon feed include fish meal and fish oils that are of the risk for dioxin and mercury contamination. In recent years, farmers have tried to reduce the heavy metal contamination by replacing fish meal/oil with soy and corn protein and vegetable oil, and plummets their quality. The farmers often administer antibiotics to keep the Salmon healthy and traces of that make their way into your diet. The vegetable oils also decrease the omega-3 fat content in salmon meat and introduce mould toxins into salmon.
The pale orange color of salmon comes from the food pellets containing the synthetic version of astaxanthin. Most commercial astaxanthin comes from petrochemicals like coal and is not as great as the natural astaxanthin (We discuss ahead all about astaxanthin).
In a nut-shell, most of what you eat of a Farmed Salmon is impure and toxic.
Astaxanthin- the hot ‘power’ stuff
Astaxanthin is a powerful, naturally occurring carotenoid pigment that’s found in certain marine plants and animals. Often called “the king of the carotenoid,” astaxanthin is recognized as being one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. Astaxanthin is a powerful stuff. It works as a:
- An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Improves blood flow
- Protects cell mitochondria by strengthening the membranes and keeping out the damaging oxygen species
- Enhances mitochondrial energy production
- Increases endurance by more than 50% when used as a supplement. The results were based on a randomized and a placebo-controlled study conducted by an astaxanthin supplement company on several participants, and the results may need more clarity.
Choosing the ‘right’ Salmon
Color says a lot about food, and salmon is no exception to it. The right Salmon comes in a bright red color unlike the pale orange color of the Farmed Salmon. The bright red color is usually found in the wild Salmon due to astaxanthin, also found in algae, plankton and krill.
According to the FDA and EPA which have both been studying mercury contamination in fish, the wild-caught salmon has been consistently found at very low risk of mercury contamination. They deem salmon safe to eat multiple times per week.
Tip: The wild version is usually the right version to choose.
What’s the best kind of wild salmon?
Now, the next important question, what’s the right kind of wild salmon? It depends on what nutrients you want.
If you’re looking for the astaxanthin content, then sockeye Salmon is the one that you are looking for! Sockeye Salmon contains massive amounts of astaxanthin, cholesterol and vitamin D by far, which is usually derived by them feeding on plankton. Due to their extraordinary eating habits, Sockeyes are extremely difficult to farm, and remains usually wild. Also rich in omega-3, Sockeye has a strong flavour and tastes awesome when eaten smoked (more on smoked salmon in a minute).
On the other hand, if omega-3 appeals more to your diet, then you can go for the Chinook (king) Salmon. Chinooks are found in deep, cold water. The extra omega-3’s keep them warm – the fat stays liquid in their system and prevents them from freezing. Unlike Sockeye Salmon, the Chinooks are easier to find. You can always check back from your source to make sure you’re getting a wild fish for yourself.
Pacific Coho salmon comes right after Sockeye and Chinook. It has the third highest fat content among Salmon and is also rich in vitamin D and omega-3’s.
All these varieties are excellent choices, as long as they’re wild-caught and each has a specific taste.
How to cook your salmon
Ahh! So you wondered what took so long to come to smoked Salmon part, right. Smoked salmon tastes wonderful except for a downside that smoking meat produces histamine, which can cause inflammation if you’re sensitive to it.
Try tasting that smoked salmon and check if you feel any inflammations in your throat. Opt for the cold-smoked salmon if you can find it. The lower temperature better preserves the omega-3s.
Perfect Parchment-Baked Salmon
Salmon makes one the perfect recipes if you can cook it right. Cook too long and you can screw it up royally. This recipe takes the guesswork out, so it’s a can’t-miss way to get your omega-3s.
- 2 centre-cut wild salmon fillets (8 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon Bulletproof Brain Octane oil (or MCT or coconut oil)
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, or dill)
- Lemon wedges, for serving
How to cook
- Preheat the oven to 320°F.
- Place the salmon on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Rub the fillets with Brain Octane oil, season it with sea salt, and top with the butter.
- Wrap the parchment around the fish, folding seams and tucking them to ensure steam does not escape.
- Bake until fish is medium-rare, about 18 minutes. Sprinkle with the herbs and squeeze a lemon.