Salmon is the most sought-after fish; cherished for its delicious, omega-3 rich pink meat. This medium size oily fish lives in the pacific waters extending from Pacific coasts of Asia and North America and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America.
Salmons belong to the salmonidae family of marine fish. Some of commercial important salmons are: Chinook Salmon (Onorhynchus tshawytscha), Chum Salmon (O. keta), Coho Salmon (O. kisutch), Pink (humpback) salmon (O. gorbuscha), Sockeye (O. nerka), Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), Danube Salmon (Hucho hucho), cherry salmon (O. masou).
|Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy: Sam Beebe|
Salmons are large, fatty fish. They feed on krill (small crustaceans) and foraging small fish in the ocean. Salmon species exhibit dramatic physical features and color changes between marine and spawning phases.
In general, all salmon species feature long, oval body, small head, small eyes, and lower opening mouth that gape back below its eye. The mouth contains a row of stout, conical teeth. Its body features large scales and caudal fins (ray fins). Atlantic salmon grows 2 to3 feet long and weighs up to 10 pounds. Chinook is the largest Pacific salmon; typically grows up to 5 feet in length and can weigh up to 30 pounds.
Salmons are anadromous fish which live in salt water as adult but migrate into fresh water in the spring to spawn. Their lifespan varies widely from 12 years for Atlantic salmon, and about 5 years for sockeye. However, this varies widely even in the same species since oftentimes young "grilse" return to their natal waters to spawn and die soon after, greatly shortening their lifespan.
Salmon is a large migratory fish completing its fascinating journey from natal freshwater streams, rivers, lakes, open bay, and to deep ocean waters and back again to its natal waters to spawn and die. The fish need cold, clean, oxygenated water to survive and optimal temperatures vary depending on the species and life stage. Young smolts feed primarily on insects and small crustaceans and other fish larvae.
On an average, salmons hold about 160 calories per 100 grams of meat. American Heart Association recommends consumption of at least 2 servings of oily fish to fulfil requirements of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.
All species of salmons are rich source of vitamin-A, vitamin-D and long chain omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA).
Salmon is an excellent source of protein; 100 g provide 19.93 g (36% of RDI). Its protein profile encompasses all the essential amino acids in a healthy ratios.
Salmon fish is rich in omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of neural system, especially in infants and children.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial, heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
Salmon is one of the finest sources of some B-complex vitamins such as niacin (provides 53% RDI/100 g), pyridoxine and riboflavin.
Vitamin-A (453 IU/100g) is plentiful in salmons. vitamin-A and omega-3's are essential for healthy mucosa and skin.
100 g of salmon holds 526 IU of vitamin D; about 131% of daily recommended intake. Vitamin D plays an important role in the calcium metabolism, and offers protection from cancers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of a variety of seafood lower in mercury a week.
Furthermore, salmons compose significant amounts of minerals including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. In this marine fish, the other trace elements commonly found are selenium and iodine.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||10.43 g||52%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA)|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||1.008 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.301 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.944 g||--|
Salmon sold as fresh, frozen, smoked, salt cured, dried and canned. You can buy either whole fish or dressed into steaks, roasts, and fillets.
Buy a high quality salmon from authentic sellers. Try to purchase a whole salmon side, or a fillet that is cut from the thickest part of the fish. Wild Pacific and Atlantic salmon will have pinker and brighter flesh than farmed varieties. Wild varieties types are nutritionally rich and less in toxins than farmed ones. There are reported cases of farmed salmons containing artificial colorants/dye to make them look as pink as the wild salmon.
In the markets, you can come across ready-to-cook products such as salmon pâté, kabobs, and marinated and peppered salmon steaks and fillets, frozen salmon entrees, salmon jerky, salted salmon, and salmon burgers.
Avoid salmon with a strong fishy odor. Avoid smoked salmon with dried or brown edges that appear leaky and wet.
Salmon spoils quickly as its flesh is fatty and attracts bacteria. Always store in the freezer section of home refrigerator.
The flesh close to the head of the salmon is more delicate than the flesh nearer the tail. If you prefer to skin, just peel it inside out. Remove any bones before cooking.
Salmon may be pan roasted, shallow fried, broiled, foil baked, and grilled in the preparation of variety of mouth-watering menus. Just ensure it should be cooked until the meat is opaque and flakes off easily.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Caesar salad. Photo credit: pui wong|
Smoked salmon is often served with capers and then slices of sweet onion.
It is used to give a special touch to sandwiches, salads, omelets, pasta dishes, mousses and quiches. Avoid masking its flavor.
Canned salmon is used in sandwiches, salads, sauces, omelets and quiches. It is cooked in mousses, soufflés, pâté and crepes. As a spread, it is used on sandwiches, and canapés.
Salmon roe -salmon caviar (ikura) and roe in sacs (sujiko) employed in sushi, and rice dishes in Japan.
Reports of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and antibiotics in farmed salmon have been cited in major publications, warning consumers about the harmful effects of eating farmed salmon on health. Also, artificial dyes injected salmon samples to make them appear more pink have also been reported, further apprehending the consumers. (Medical disclaimer).
<<-Also read Trout fish nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Chinook Salmon. PDF.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.