I’m a big fan of salmon, because of its nutritional profile (a great source of protein and healthful omega-3 fatty acids) and because it was my gateway fish (I did not like fish AT ALL growing up, but salmon was what lured me back in to the finned seafood world). We are lucky here in Washington state to live so close to Alaska, home of well-managed while salmon runs. Many coastal states used to boast native wild salmon, but poor management put an end to that. (For more on this story, read about the effects of overfishing on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website.)
As much as I support consumption of fatty fish like salmon a few times a week for delicious health-supporting nutrition, I am not a fan of farmed salmon, which based on my research tends to be poorly managed. (Read more about aquaculture here.) It is a bit of a conundrum, I admit.
But once again, wild Alaska salmon runs are doing well, and today is the first-ever Alaska Wild Salmon Day. If you don’t have plans for dinner tonight, I suggest you swing by the store and pick some up (or, if you’re already good for tonight, grab some for tomorrow’s dinner). To participate in Alaska Wild Salmon Day, share photos of wild Alaska salmon — whether while still at the grocery store or while enjoying it at home or in a restaurant — via social media with the hashtag #AskForAlaska.
Here are a few tidbits about Alaska wild salmon that you may not know:
- Alaska’s king, sockeye, coho, keta and pink salmon make up more than 90 percent of all the wild salmon harvested in the United States.
- As mandated by the Alaska State Constitution, and unlike other fishing regions, Alaska fisherman practice the most sustainable fishing methods in the world to guarantee that Alaska salmon is natural, sustainable and of the highest quality.
Need some ideas for what to do with your delicious salmon? Here are some delicious recipes developed by some of the nation’s top chefs:
- Chef Mandy Dixon of Homer, Alaska: Alaska Salmon Burgers with Rhubarb Chutney
- Chef Maria L. Hines of Seattle, Washington: Alaska Salmon and Lacinato Kale with Apple Bacon Vinaigrette
- Chef Rick Bayless of Chicago, Illinois: Chipotle-Glazed Wild Alaska Salmon with Spicy Peanut Salsa
- Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Los Angeles, CA: Border Grill Grilled Alaska Salmon Tacos with Corn Relish
For more information on wild Alaska salmon, visit www.wildalaskaseafood.com and follow Alaska Seafood on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more reasons why to #AskForAlaska, check out 7 Reasons to Ask for Alaska Seafood. If you didn’t catch my recent recipe using wild Alaska salmon in The Seattle Times (as part of my column on omega-3s), here it is:
Recipe: Salmon with Walnut Pesto
Several years ago, when the price of pine nuts went through the roof, I made the switch to walnuts in my pesto recipe, and never looked back. I like the omega-3 boost, plus I find that the creamy texture of ground walnuts makes it easy to make a vegan, dairy-free pesto if desired. Just increase the amount of walnuts and add a bit more salt to taste, to compensate for removing the parmesan (which is a salty cheese).
- 1 to 1.5 pounds wild Alaska salmon
- 2 cups (packed) torn or chopped greens (kale, arugula, dandelion greens)
- 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves (or play around with other fresh herbs)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup shelled walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (or more to taste)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (or more walnuts)
- Pesto: In a food processor, combine the greens, basil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Pulse until the kale leaves are finely chopped. With the food processor on (motor running), drizzle in the olive oil. Turn off the motor so you can scrape down the sides of the processor bowl. Add the walnuts and garlic, pulse to combine. Add the cheese, pulse to combine. Set aside while you cook the salmon.
- Salmon: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place salmon, skin-side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and roast until salmon is lightly translucent in the center, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Top with the pesto and serve.