Wild vs. Farm Raised Salmon
Environmental Issues about Farm-Raising
Preparation, Thawing, Cooking Our Alaska Salmon
Q. Are there benefits of eating Wild Alaska Salmon versus Atlantic farm-raised salmon?
A. Yes, all Alaska salmon are Wild. These fish grow naturally in Alaska's cold, clear waters. Farm raised salmon are fed pellets that contain antibiotics, pesticides, growth hormones and artificial coloring agents. Free-ranging wild Alaska salmon are recognized as the purest fish found anywhere. In fact, the Alaska Division of Public Health continues to encourage "pregnant women, women who are breast feeding, women of childbearing age, and young children continue unrestricted consumption of fish from Alaskan waters."
A recently published article in, The Audubon's Living Oceans Campaign, reads "Farm-raised salmon consume more antibiotics per pound of 'livestock' than are any other farm-raised animal." A total of over 23 million pounds of antibiotics are consumed by livestock in US animal production each year. Trying to regulate the use and overuse of antibiotics is a serious problem in the fish farming industry in North America and British Columbia. It has been almost impossible to regulate antibiotic use in other countries where salmon are raised in extremely remote locations , including countries like Chile . For even more information do a quick search on www.google.com for "farm-raised salmon" or "farmed salmon" will provide you with more information.
Q.Are farm raised fish safe to eat?
A.The latest information from the David Suzuki Foundation, farmed salmon may be dangerous for consumers: "Salmon farmers attempting to limit disease and kill parasites that threaten fish in their pens, use extremely powerful anti-biotics combined with other drugs. This toxic combination is dumped in open net-pens. Mostly un-regulated, this misuse of super-antibiotics-these very same drugs are used to treat human infections-is being associated with the development of drug-resistant "super-bugs". A grave risk is being created to the wild marine eco-system, as well as to the workers at these fish farms. Plus, untold damage and unnecessary risks are being directed at consumers of farm raised salmon who very well could be affected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Q.Is it true that fish farming is bad for the environment?
A.YES, Salmon aquaculture can be very bad for the environment. Every day British Columbia's aquaculture industry dumps the same amount of raw sewage into the ocean as a city of half a million people. High concentrations of fish waste and drugs, along with drug-resistant microbes, pass through the netcages to settle and destroy life on the ocean floor. Much of it drifts throughout the marine environment, contaminating shellfish beds and other habitats and spreads disease up the food chain. For more information, visit the David Suzuki Foundation's website at www.davidsuzuki.org under "Ocean Pollution".
Q.Is wild Alaska salmon an endangered species?
A.NO, Alaska's wild salmon runs are the healthiest on earth. Each year, millions of wild Alaska salmon return to spawn in their native rivers. Pristine habitat and well-managed commercial fisheries contribute to the preservation of Alaska's most precious, and sustainable, natural resource. In September 2000, Alaskan salmon received the distinction of becoming the first U.S. fishery to be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. MARINE STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL is proud to support Wild pacific salmon and feature Wild Alaskan Salmon bearing its eco-label. MSC is an independent non-profit organization that awards its label only to seafood that has passed certification as sustainable. Wild Alaskan Salmon is the first U.S. fishery to be awarded this certification for meeting the MSC's strict environmental standards. The MSC is supported by the World Wildlife Fund, the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium/Seafood Watch Program and many others.
The fisheries are managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) and the Alaska state constitution requires that salmon habitats are conserved and protected. Today, this constitutional requirement, as well as effective management, has brought the Wild Alaska salmon fishery to health. In 1959, statewide salmon harvests were about 25 million salmon a year. In 1999 (forty years later) Alaska's commercial wild salmon catch was 214 million fish, the second largest in the state's history. The management plan includes establishing open and closed seasons; setting quotas, bag limits, harvest limits, sex and size limitations, establishing the methods and means employed in the pursuit, capture and transport of salmon, watershed and habitat improvement, management, conservation, protection, use, disposal, propagation and stocking of fish. There is strict and thoughtful regulating of commercial, sport, guided sport, subsistence, and personal use fishing as needed for the conservation, development and utilization of fisheries.
Q.Are all Salmon in Alaska Wild?
A.YES, All the salmon found in Alaskan waters are wild! In fact it is illegal to farm salmon in Alaska. The term wild salmon means that the fish are free range and can complete their natural life cycle without being penned and fed artificial foods.
Q.Is fresh frozen Wild Salmon as good as fresh?
A.YES! if done right, in most cases it's better. The Alaska seafood industry has perfected advanced quick-freezing technology (FAS) Frozen At Sea , which is unique in its ability to capture the fresh-caught flavor of the Alaska salmon while preserving the fish's firm texture and rich color. Fresher-frozen natural Wild Alaska Salmon is available year-round in portion-controlled sizes in a variety of product forms. Fresher-frozen products minimize shrink and keep margins high for restaurants. Frozen products that have been in a frozen state since they were first processed (FAS) and stored properly will keep their quality until they are thawed. Wild Alaska Salmon, if handled properly, can result in a culinary experience without equal. The main concern with Salmon quality is temperature abuse. Salmon must be kept refrigerated from the time it is caught to the time it is prepared for cooking or the result is usually soft and smelly fish. Three ways to tell quality Salmon: smell it, touch it and look at it. If it smells fishy then it's probably not fresh. When you touch it, if your finger print remains imprinted on the skin then it's not fresh. Look at the eyes of the fish and if they are milky in color then it's not fresh. The skin shouldn't' look dry or discolored in anyway. Your best insurance when buying wild Alaska Salmon is to know your purveyor. Buying direct from Alaska is your guarantee of getting Wild Salmon.
Q.What is the shelf life of Wild Salmon once it is thawed-out?
A. If Salmon is kept refrigerated at 38 F or less you still have 5-7 days to consume it. You begin to loose quality from the time the product is thawed, so cook it or refreeze it as soon as you can.
Must I thaw Salmon prior to cooking?
A. No, just remove salmon fillet from packaging, rinse under cold water, then cook for about 20% longer than your recipe calls for.
Q.How do you thaw Salmon?
A.If Salmon products are vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch, place them in a sink with cold water until thawed. If your fish is wrapped in plastic or just raw, place it on a plate in the refrigerator the night before you want to cook it, cover with plastic wrap, and let it thaw. Water in direct contact with raw product washes away the color and flavor of Salmon.
Q.What is the shelf life of vacuum sealed and frozen Salmon?
A.Salmon products that are vacuum sealed are in an air free environment, thus they are protected from dehydration or freezer burn. If the package keeps its integrity, the quality should remain the same as the day Salmon was packaged. As a life long Salmon connoisseur, I have found that one year is a good shelf life for fresh salmon that has been vacuum sealed and immediately frozen (FAS).
Q.What is the shelf life of thawed vacuum sealed Salmon?
A.You don't gain any shelf life per se for vacuum sealing fresh uncooked Salmon. If kept refrigerated, smoked salmon however, will last about 20 days unopened. Once it is opened, use within about 3 days. The reason for that is that fresh fish isn't cooked but smoked salmon is. Cooked wild salmon lasts longer in a vacuum sealed pouch because most of the bacteria have been killed during the cooking process.
Q.What is flash freezing?
A.Wild Salmon should be frozen as soon as possible after being caught. However, you can actually ruin some species of fish by freezing it too quickly or too cold, as it will burst the cells in the flesh. You can freeze it too slowly as well. The best temperature is -40F with a -10F core temperature in less than 5 hours. If you take two pieces of Salmon and clank them together after freezing, they should sound like striking two pieces of glass together.
Q.What should I do with my Salmon after it arrives?
A.Place it in a freezer as soon as possible. If some thawing is present, don't be concerned unless the product is warm to the touch. If it is thawed, just place it in the freezer and it will be fine. I always eat any salmon where the vacuum packages have lost their seal in shippiong, due to handling in the shipping process first.. Cold plastic tends to be very brittle and these packages should be handled with care to maintain their integrity.
Q.Does vacuum sealed smoked salmon need to be refrigerated?
A.YES! Our smoked salmon needs refrigeration because it is only cooked to 150o F during the smoking process. If smoked salmon is kept frozen and then thawed when needed, you will experience what smoked salmon was meant to taste like. Keep in mind that all vacuum sealed products should be handled properly (keep refrigerated to 38F. or below) to ensure your safety.
Q.Is Wild Salmon safe to eat raw?
A. Yes, but be sure it has been frozen to -10F for at least 36 hours. This is your assurance that any parasites that might be present are killed.
Q.What is the best wild salmon to eat?
A.While the five species of Wild Pacific salmon all have great flavor and share a general outward resemblance, they vary in size, flesh texture, color, and flavor. All species of wild salmon are wonderful to eat. The three most popular Wild Alaska Salmon are:
Chinook Salmon are lightly spotted on blue-green backs and on their tails. They are easily identified by their black mouths and gums. They live from three to seven years in the ocean, and can weigh upwards of 100 pounds. Also known as Springs, Black-mouths, Tyees or Kings, they are the #1 prized salmon for sport anglers. This is the largest species of Salmon, with richly flavored, firm flesh ranging from ivory white to deep red in color. Chinook Salmon has the strongest flavor due to its high oil content and tends to be the most sought after of all salmon for grilling and bar-b-queing.
Sockeye Salmon is a blue-tinged silver color. Sockeye salmon live four to five years, weighing 6- 13 lbs and are the firmest and most streamlined of all species of Pacific salmon. Also known as Red Salmon, Sockeye is the most sought-after salmon species for its very mild flavor and beet red color to its flesh.
Coho Salmon are bright silver in color with light gray spots on the back . Often referred to as a Silver Salmon or Hook-nose, they live three-five years, weigh up to 22 lbs., and are sought after as a game fish because of there acrobatic nature for anglers. Coho's wonderful flavor is coupled with delicate textured and medium red flesh.
Q.Cooking wild Alaska Salmon…which method is best?
A. Quickly! Salmon tastes the best if cooked quickly. You can over- cook salmon very easily, be sure to remove it from the heat source just prior to s it being done. It is done when the opaque color is gone. (I prefer my salmon to still have a little opaqueness in the middle). Salmon should flake easily when done.
Salmon can be cooked in a variety of ways including pan frying, deep frying, baking, sautéing, poaching, broiling, microwaving, grilling or barbequeing. Already cooked or leftover salmon or using Smoked Salmon is great on salads, chowders, soups, or worked into your favorite holiday dips. The surest way to ruin Wild Salmon is to overcook it. Remember, Wild Salmon is excellent raw... so don't be afraid to serve it a little undercooked. For some wonderful recipes visit our website recipes at http://www.great-alaska-seafood.com/seafood-recipes.htm.
Q.Are omega-3s found in the fatty gray meat under the salmon skin?
A.Dr. Mary Enig, a renown expert on fatty acids in fish, has research to show that as much as two-thirds of the omega-3s in fish reside beneath the skin in the gray matter. However it is interesting to note that tests conducted by the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory indicate that the flesh of wild sockeye salmon (for example) contains more than 1.2 grams of EPA and DHA per 3.5 oz (98 g) serving. This exceeds the 650 to 1000 mg recommended daily intake of omega-3s by more than 20%. So whether the gray fat is consumed or not, one is assured of getting a significant 'dosage' of EPA, DHA (and many other essential fatty acids) with each serving of salmon.