Thursday, June 7, 2012

Salmon Run

Photo - courtesy Copper River Salmon Board 
Arriving in markets is a ever popular salmon from Alaska's Copper River region. While not as large as it's cousin the King or Sockeye, it is fast becoming a favorite among consumers in the Northwest. Copper River salmon are bright silvery salmon with a bright red flesh, a firm texture, and a rich flavor that makes them a very delicious dining experience whose popularity is rapidly growing.

Each May, Pacific Northwest restaurants and markets celebrate the arrival of the season's first fish. There are festivals, parades and community activities all centered around the first available Copper River salmon. As newspapers fill with ads of fish for sale, "low flying fish" can be seen commonly at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle as locals buy whole salmon and fillets for outdoor barbecues and picnics.

When it comes to nutritional benefits, Salmon, is a smart choice for a healthy diet. The healthy oil content of Copper River salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce heart disease and lower cholesterol. Studies have also found that fish oil can help combat ailments such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, and migraines. Furthermore, salmon is an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids.

As a note, when you buy salmon or for that matter any fish at your local fish monger, always smell the fish. Yep that's right.. take a deep breath.. If it smells like the sea...fresh and clean then you are good to go. On the other hand, if you can smell ANY fishy smell or even worse an ammonia smell, run away! Any foul smelling emissions from fish is a indicator of old fish and/or bad handling. Remember the local kid behind the mega mart fish counter most likely has been told how to bag and tag but not what is fresh and when it's time to toss "bad fish".
And always keep your fish purchase cool till you get home. For me, if I know I am going out to get some fish, I always have a small foldable cold-pack bag and I throw in a prefozen ice pack. If you shop and buy fish on impulse, buy a couple packages of frozen veggies and pack that next to your fish for the ride home. Once home, put your catch in the fridge for up to 24 hrs. Any longer, you risk your fish turning toward the "dark side"!

When your ready to cook, remember fish can cook relatively fast, so cook on med high heat for a pan sear to be finished off in the oven, or steam or poach on med heat for a lighter, flaky texture. The worst thing you can do to fish is over cook it. It can end up dry and tough.

Enjoy!

SPINACH SALAD WITH PAN-SEARED SALMON, ORANGES, RED ONION, AND AVOCADO
Recipe Provided By Copper River Salmon Association
Ingredients
  •  ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  •  1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
  •  ½ tsp. sugar
  •  ½ tsp. kosher or sea salt
  •  Fresly gound pepper
  •  7 cup (about 6-oz.) lightly packed baby spinach leaves
  •  1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  •  1 red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, seeded, deribbed, and cut into long, thin slices
  •  2 navel oranges, peeled and white pith removed, cut into segments
  •  4 Copper River salmon fillets (about 5 oz. each), skin and pin bones removed
  •  Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  •  3 Tbsp. olive oil
  •  1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into 16 thin wedges 

Instructions

  1. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Place the spinach, onion, and bell pepper in a large salad bowl. Put the oranges in a small bowl.
  3. Season the salmon on all sides with a little salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the remaining olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the salmon, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is crisp, about 4 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn the salmon and cook until the fillets are almost opaque throughout, but still very moist, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 to 130 degrees F, about 4 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a warm plate and set aside while you toss the salad.
  6. To serve, add the orange segments to the salad bowl, give the dressing a last-minute shake, and pour over the salad. Toss gently. Arrange the salad on 4 dinner plates. Place a salmon fillet in the center, on top of the salad, garnish each salad with 4 slices of avocado, and serve immediately.

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