This time of year, most folks are contemplating their Thanksgiving bird. Will it be usual turkey? Perhaps a goose? Cornish game hens? Not in my belly! Being a Seattle-raised resident of Los Angeles (where the weather would have you believing it was time for Independence Day), I have to bring something I'm
thankful for to the Thanksgiving table.
A beautiful, young coho or sockeye; pulled from the icy, wild waters of Alaska is a Superfood that cannot be beat. Salmon is full of Omega-3 fatty acids. This compound has miraculous properties for which we should all be thankful. As an MS patient, I revel in the anti-inflammatory action of this fabulous fat and it's surprising effectiveness against mild to moderate depression! Another benefit of Omega-3 fat is hearth health. It helps keep your arteries flexible, lowers your LDL (or BAD) cholesterol, and yes, fish is also BRAIN FOOD. The list of benefits is a mile long which is why it's recommended we consume at least 2 servings of fatty fish every week.
Many people are afraid of preparing fish. The smell, the scales, the cooking time...trust me. It's not that hard. In fact, if you go to a decent fishmonger (I love that word!), you can get most of the dirty work done for you! Speaking of shopping for fish; what should you buy? I'm sure you've been told over and over to avoid farmed salmon. I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation. Farmed salmon is raised in crowded spaces, increasing the chance of the fish consuming their neighbor's waste, which can fill them with toxic PCB's. Their feed includes dyes to give them that recognizable pink color...it's just not cool with me!
Is the price of wild salmon keeping you from enjoying it? Please know that most canned salmon (unless otherwise labled) is wild Alaskan salmon! Talk about taking out the guesswork! When I can't afford a beautiful steak or filet, I go for a can and create some lovely stuff.
Are you still eating that American classic, tuna salad? Try using a can of salmon instead! I like to combine 2 tablespoons of spicy tartar sauce (instead of mayo) with a diced shallot, one pressed clove of garlic and a couple teaspoons of capers with a can of red salmon. Slather this on toast, scoop with celery, endive or your favorite corn chip...heaven.
Can't afford enough lump crabmeat for crabcakes? Canned salmon to the rescue! Take the salmon salad mixture from above, and add one egg white. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or more (to help the mix get firm). Preheat your oven to 300 degrees (to hold the cooked cakes until you're ready to plate them). Then, using an ice cream scoop for consistently-sized cakes, cook your cakes on medium-high in a sprayed or non-stick pan. I like to place these tasty morsels atop a green salad, dressed with a simple vinegrette of lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, salt and pepper.
If you're able to invest in a filet of wild Alaskan salmon, treat it well. Try not to cover it up with breading or too much sauce. Salt, pepper, olive oil and one of your favorite dried herbs is all you'll need. Rub it in well, slash the skin to reduce shrinkage, then sear the salmon for 2 minutes per side on medium-high heat. If you want crispy skin (like I do), give the skin side an extra minute. If you prefer your fish cooked through (but not dried out!), finish it in a 300-degree oven. If your pan has a plastic handle, just wrap it with aluminum foil for oven-proof-ness.
There's nothing to fear about salmon. Okay, perhaps not getting enough! Along with salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and bluefish are also packed with Omega-3's. Please don't miss this healthy protein-source. In places where fish is eaten regularly, people tend to live longer and have less chronic disease! Now, that's something to be thankful for.