Any Salmon Experts Out There?

ritaweedaAugust 14, 2014

OK, I admit, I've never had the premium King or Coho salmon, we usually eat whatever is on sale, and my only source is the local grocery, there aren't any real seafood markets here. I buy mostly the farm-raised, once in awhile the Steelhead trout or rarely the Sockeye. And I'm not an expert on all the varieties. But today they had what they called Keta on sale at the grocer, the sign said Wild Alaskan Caught. So I bought some. It had a stronger taste and not as fatty as the farmed but it was edible. So I go online and look around and there was little good said about it, but these were mostly from folks up there in the far North who know and have more access to the good stuff. It is also called Chum salmon and Dog salmon. I was also told recently that the farm-raised are kept in filth and fed filth and that I should not touch it, but I do anyway. Anyone know the facts on it?

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Having crab stuffed salmon (from Costco) for dinner tonight. It's in the oven now. Not sure I want to see the responses tonight. LOL

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:59PM
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I eat salmon sushi, sous vide salmon, I make cold smoked salmon, hot smoke salmon, ----------.

I have noticed the big differences in pricing but not taste. They all taste basically the same to me.

I have read all kinds of "studies" and "reports". It seems to me over all it is healthier to eat farmed salmon. I am not that interested in debating this issue. I know there are a thousand reasons out there why farmed salmon is deadly.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:39PM
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We prefer King and Coho, and this being the San Francisco Bay Area, wild and line-caught are bywords.

From a Cornell University study:
"...In general, a new study shows that the net benefits of eating wild Pacific salmon outweigh those of eating farmed Atlantic salmon, when the risks of chemical contaminants are considered, although there are important regional differences.

'For a middle-aged guy who has had a coronary and doesn't want to have another one, the risks from pollutants are minor ones, and the omega-3 benefits him in a way that far outstrips the relatively minor risks of the pollutants,' said (the study). 'But for people who are young -- and they're at risk of lifetime accumulation of pollutants that are carcinogenic -- or pregnant women -- with the risks of birth defects and IQ diminution and other kinds of damage to the fetus -- those risks are great enough that they outweigh the benefits.'

Because we found regional differences in contaminants in farmed salmon, with Chilean salmon showing the lowest levels and European (particularly Scottish) farmed salmon showing the highest levels, careful consumers with a history of heart disease could choose farmed salmon from Chile for their high omega-3 content and relatively lower level of contaminants. Farmed salmon from North America would be a better second choice than European farmed salmon.

The researchers' benefit-risk analysis showed that consumers should not eat farmed fish from Scotland, Norway and eastern Canada more than three times a year; farmed fish from Maine, western Canada and Washington state no more than three to six times a year; and farmed fish from Chile no more than about six times a year. Wild chum salmon can be consumed safely as often as once a week, pink salmon, Sockeye and Coho about twice a month and Chinook just under once a month.

In a published study (Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2005), the research team reported that the levels of chlorinated pesticides, dioxins, PCBs and other contaminants are up to 10 times greater in farm-raised salmon than in wild Pacific salmon, and that salmon farmed in Europe are more contaminated than salmon from South and North American farms.

The team also published a study that found that farmed salmon, on average, contain roughly two to three times more beneficial fatty acids than wild salmon, presumably because of the differences in the diet on which the fish are raised...."

From the Naturally Speaking blogsite:
"...PCBs build up in fish and animal fat, and therefore proper cooking methods can help reduce your exposure:

- Before cooking, remove the skin, fat (found along the back, sides and belly), internal organs, tomalley of lobster and the mustard of crabs, where toxins are likely to accumulate.
- When cooking, be sure to let the fat drain away and avoid or reduce fish drippings.
- Serve less fried fish; frying seals in chemical pollutants that might be in the fish’s fat, while grilling or broiling allows fat to drain away.
- For smoked fish, it is best to fillet the fish and remove the skin before the fish is smoked."

From the Food & Water Watch organization:
"...Water pollution concerns (of ALL farmed fish) include the following:
- excess food;
- feces;
- cage materials; and,
- antibiotics/other cleaning/algal growth prohibiting chemicals.

Water flowing out of an aquaculture facility can carry excessive nutrients, particulates,rusted drain pipe bacteria, other diseased organisms and polluting chemicals. These may harm surrounding habitats, cause algal blooms, poison ocean wildlife and other severe disturbances. Feed and fecal matter from aquaculture facilities can deplete the dissolved oxygen concentrations within and around the site. Since different fish have varying tolerances to dissolved oxygen levels, the wastewater being discharged from an aquaculture operation may have large impacts outside the facility long before a problem is detected within. Anti-fouling agents used to keep cages/pens clean are highly toxic in run-off.

Also, be aware that it can take up to 10 lbs. of non-pellet food to produce a single pound of farmed fish:
- Cultured species are fed wild species. This is an inefficient use of wild fish. There are particular concerns that aquaculture operations may increasingly rely on natural food sources, such as krill, squid and other small coastal pelagic fish. These lower trophic level species are a crucial part of the marine ecosystem, serving as prey for marine mammals, birds and fish. Many commercially important fish species depend directly on the availability and abundance of such wild food sources for their survival. "


The Seafood Watch List by the Monterey Bay Aquarium is regularly updated, and downloadable for all US regions at the Aquarium's website, below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch in .pdf by region

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:43PM
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I would never eat farmed fish...not only does it taste like dog food to me, as noted above it is terrible for the environment, and filled with hormones and other things I don't want to eat. Of course, they've imported Atlantic salmon to the west coast to farm it here, it has escaped and some believe it will be the downfall of our wild salmon in the west. Arggghh... Please don't buy farmed salmon!

Here is a link that might be useful: Farmed and dangerous

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:48PM
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"I was also told recently that the farm-raised are kept in filth and fed filth and that I should not touch it, but I do anyway. Anyone know the facts on it?"

I don't believe that is true. Much farm-raised fish, such as catfish and tilapia, is raised in warm, shallow ponds. But salmon are raised in pens in the ocean which are constantly flushed with cold sea water.

That, plus the fact that they are processed immediately after harvesting makes me think that farm-raised salmon are the highest quality of any fresh fish. Some kinds of wild caught fish are kept on ice for a few days prior to landing.

I am confident enough of the quality of farm-raised North Atlantic salmon that I use it for making my own lox.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:48PM
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My old Scottish MIL who lived as far north in Scotland as you can get and who got wild salmon fresh of the fishing boats taught me how to choose salmon. It's simple. The nasty, pale pink salmon you so often see is to be avoided. It's just fat, farmed, nasty fish. Good salmon that has been swimming around in the ocean is a bright red color and the taste is completely different. It's not fatty and tastes "clean".

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 2:16AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

There is a secret to getting the strong flavor out of any fish. Let it sit in salty ice water for a few hours. Keep ice in the water, turn the fish. It thinks it's back in the sea. Rinse and cook, and there will be no strong fishy taste. Works on all fresh seafood.

For salmon, we soak cedar planks for a couple hours, dry them, oil one side, BBQ the oiled side on high for a minute and flip. Put oiled and seasoned filets on the cooked side of the plank, close the BBQ and let it smoke till it's done. Be sure to have a bottle of water to squirt out the occasional fire. Yumm!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:09PM
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A wild caught Keta was an ocean, free swimming fish. They are naturally lighter in color, mild in taste, and locally known as pinks, chum, dogs. A wild caught Keta is low in fat still this time of year, it will carry more weight and body fat closer to Fall before beginning its spawning run up river, as does any mature ocean salmon. A coho/silver is more colorful than a keta/pink, and a King/Chinook/sockeye the darkest yet.

You might be surprised to know there are occasionally pure white fleshed Chinooks. They are healthy, identical in taste, regular sized fish and the canneries and markets won't buy them, for no other reason than their appearance isn't acceptable.

Keta are not as popular among consumers, or the fishermen either as they bring a lower price. If you have one that's fresh, there is no reason not to enjoy it. If you thought yours tasted strong, it could have been fresher than you bought it, or frozen and then thawed for sale. It's not so much that it's inferior, just not as attractive to buyers.

As for farm raised, as with any commercial endeavor, there are good and bad fish farms. Those who will raise fish in low-density pens, give them nutritious feed without antibiotics or pesticides, and those who are more interested in profit only and aim for pounds, quick weight gain for quick turnover.

I don't buy farm raised given where I live, I can see the fog over the Washington coast from this window so there is little reason for me to eat other than wild seafood.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 6:02PM
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I don't remember the exact number, something like 70% of seafood is farm raised. You can boycott all you want; farming seafood is not going away. Without seafood farms, very few people can afford to eat fish. Price will be so high that over fishing will for sure happen.

I often buy the whole salmon at $3.99 a lbs. Wild caught King salmon is $19.99 a lb.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:10PM
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The thing that bothers me most about farming is the raising of fish outside of their normal range - e.g. farming Atlantic salmon in the Pacific because escapees can compete with the native fish causing an ecosystem change that may be impossible to reverse.

I'd have less of an issue buying farmed Atlantic salmon that was grown in the Atlantic but most of the time the farmed salmon doesn't indicate where it was raised.

I worry about pollution issues of raising too many fish too close together in an area too.

I was just in Alaska and had fresh wild salmon for dinner or lunch every day. As others have said, the color and taste varies depending on the variety.

I think being farmed may also affect the taste or texture versus wild fish which swim free. We have been having trouble finding wild caught smoked salmon lately and I haven't liked the taste of the farmed stuff as much. Possibly it is also due to being a different variety. I brought some lox from wild caught salmon (some coho and some king) back with me from Alaska and the taste is lovely.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:14PM
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Just to add, fat in a wild fish isn't necessarily a bad thing. A Fall caught heavy silver/coho is a great fish, excellent for grilling....

My elderly neighbor who I still miss dearly was a commercial fisherman all his life. When he reached the point he was a little frail for ocean going and sold his boat, I would bring him fish from time to time. It didn't matter if salmon, cod, halibut, crab - he would put it into a colander and put crushed ice on top. The colander would go into his refrigerator sitting in a wider shallow pan. The ice kept the fish well chilled and as it melted, it continuously bathed the fish and kept it clean. Emptying the pan underneath, and replenishing the ice as needed kept fish fresh and free from fishy taste or odor much longer than chilling alone. He and his wife ate such small portions at meals at that point, he could make good use of fish for a few days. We lost them both at 93, and after 65 years of marriage.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:20PM
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"so there is little reason for me to eat other than wild seafood."

except for the fact that many fish are being steadily fished to extinction. If you add "sustainably caught" somewhere in there I'll agree whole-heartedly.

My usual method for cooking salmon is to slather with a mixture of crushed ginger and teriyaki sauce, and to then broil it in a oven set to 425 for about 10 minutes.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:24PM
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Bob, I won't get into the politics of quotas which are strictly enforced, or any of the other reasons many local small trawlers can barely make a living working hard. The fishermen who earn their livelihoods fishing and enjoy consuming the bounty themselves know more about sustainability that you would give them credit for....they live it, practice it, not read it.

I rarely add any seasonings other than S&P, occasionally a few dots of butter, to any fresh fish as its cooking but will provide different flavors in the form of sauces on the side for those who want them. The taste of fresh seafood can be easily overwhelmed by stronger flavors IMO.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 8:48PM
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“------ The thing that bothers me most about farming is the raising of fish outside of their normal range - e.g. farming Atlantic salmon in the Pacific because escapees can compete with the native fish causing an ecosystem change that may be impossible to reverse.-----“

I certainly agree with you on that, however, putting things in perspective, environmental ecosystem damage is perhaps a 1000000 more severe due to human international global traveling, global trade and shipment of goods and produce. It is a new reality that we are going to learn to live with because we are not going to ban cross continental traveling and economy.

Hawaii used to have no snakes, now they are everywhere. Invasive species both in animals and in the plant world are everywhere. Count how many kinds of pantry moths you have in your kitchen, where did killer bees come from? How about strange germs?

Check out the link below and see the lists of invasive species in each continent.


Here is a link that might be useful: What have we done!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:11PM
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Islay - I'm hesitant to debate with your "old Scottish MIL" so hopefully she doesn't read Gardenweb. ;)

In my experience, the pale stuff is what I see sold as wild caught Alaskan salmon. High price. Coming in a bit cheaper are the redder breeds like sockeye. The cheapest is the pretty orange stuff which is farmed salmon. Which, if you read the fine print, has color added to make it so pretty.

This may vary in other parts of the world, but where I'm from pale doesn't mean bad. And orange means suspect.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:35PM
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I didn't mean to sound like I was calling you out. In fact I didn't even see your second post about your neighbor when I was typing up my message. It is quite likely that you know more about fish and fishing practices that I do.

The US Fisheries have, over the last few decades have moved, in the direction of sustainability, although for the atlantic cod, its perhaps too late.

I was thinking more of other countries fishing in international waters, rapaciously scooping up everything in the water, killing and discarding what they don't want, seemingly without a single thought towards sustainability. Japan, it seems, won't be happy until they've caught and devoured the last bluefin tuna, and China's ever-growing demand for shark fin soup is fueling the even more heinous practice of Shark Finning, where to allow the ship to carry more fins they cut the fins off of the sharks and dump the still-living, finless sharks back into the water to die a slow painful death.

Again I'm not directing this tirade at you and I'm sorry if it sounds like it. If you don't mind me quoting you again:
"The taste of fresh seafood can be easily overwhelmed by stronger flavors" you are almost certainly right, but I'm not sure that what the stores near me in central Virginia, sell would be considered "fresh seafood"

This post was edited by bob_cville on Sat, Aug 16, 14 at 9:07

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Food, it must be a local thing. In Scotland, the pale fish aren't nice to eat but the dark ones are. especially when the filets are smoked. The texture and flavour are totally different.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 2:24AM
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I see there are as many opinions on salmon as there are varieties! So I'll have to just bite the bullet and take my chances on continuing buying the farm-raised. Believe me, if I could win the Lotto I'd be buying the 23 dollar a pound sockeye - that's what it was going for about a month ago. I just about fell out when I saw that. Yes, they were gorgeous but that's a little too steep for my purse. And even the farm-raised are too expensive at the normal price, I always have to wait until it's on sale. As for the Keta, yes, it was cheap and edible but I was disappointed. I wonder what it would be like to be way up North and eat a fresh-caught wild salmon???

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:32AM
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"-------I wonder what it would be like to be way up North and eat a fresh-caught wild salmon???--"

$500 a lb.

A friend just returned from Alaska salmon trip. Limit 3 fish per person. Plane ticket, hotel, expenses, about $500 a lb. LOL!


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:57AM
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Wow, I was buying Scottish salmon from the health food supermarket. I had assumed it was better quality vs. traditional farmed. I may need to contact their HQ about this.

Saw this from the Daily Mail UK. It definitely corroborates that Scottish salmon is one of the worst. Luckily, I have had it only a few times this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Daily Mail story

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 2:32PM
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Just another reason why Seattle is one of my favorite vacation destinations - superb seafood of all types, either local or flown down from Alaska, at prices half of what it costs me in the San Francisco Bay Area. Woohoo!

If more people would try eating a wider variety of fish, overfishing would be less of a problem. A huge percentage of bulk trawl catches are discarded as "trash fish" that won't sell and yet are very good eating.

When I was growing up in the Midwest, perch were the 'trash fish'. Yet they're very good eating - just not large fillets.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 5:39PM
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"------If more people would try eating a wider variety of fish, overfishing would be less of a problem. ----"

That and if we don't fillet fish.

Fillet fish has a lot of waste. I buy the whole fish if I can. Scale the fish and clean the guts, cook and eat around the bones.

Many highend restaurants serve the whole fish, and the server will remove the meat from the bones in front of you, with very little waste of meat.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:23PM
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I did an experiment once. Compared the cost/lb of salmon fillet and of whole salmon (headless, gutted) at the local grocery. Bought a whole fish, filleted it at home, weighed the yield and calculated cost/lb. I forget the exact numbers but the whole fish was considerably cheaper per lb than the store fillet - like over 30% less. Filleting at home, you also get the tasty trimmings that the store doesn't sell - belly, collar. Plus it is kind of fun to fillet a fish.

I don't have any preference between the taste of different varieties of cooked salmon. The cooking method is the major variable.

The trimmings left over from filleting can be made into a salmon mousse, and placed in puff pastry for an easy appetizer. The skin can be cut off, salted, fried, and cut into matchsticks for a pretty and tasty garnish. I suppose the bones can be used for fish stock but I'm not a big user of fish stock.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:18PM
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I was wrong. Let me correct myself.

I buy the whole fish, typically the fishmonger will scale and gut the fish. No charge for that.

I only need to scale and gut the whole fish myself if I am buying a live swimming fish. Because I keep the fish alive from the store to my kitchen.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 8:38PM
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I'm not a salmon expert but we live in Seattle and eat fresh (summer/fall) and frozen salmon (winter/spring) weekly. We only eat wild caught salmon from the Pacific. I have always been disappointment in the flavor of Atlantic salmon I've eaten.

From my experience the color varies across species. For example, sockeye has the richest darkest color. King is often lighter. The color does seem to affect flavor, but I think the most important factor to my palette is freshness. The fresher the wildcaught pacific salmon is when eaten or frozen the better it tastes. We buy frozen from a local vendor that fillets and freezes on the boat so the frozen when defrosted still tastes great.

The other thing is not to overcook it. I find defrosted frozen salmon takes less time to cook.

If you live somewhere that does not have good access to really fresh salmon then I'd buy frozen and try and source boat processed salmon. I haven't tried Costco salmon but they are a Seattle company and I do think they source, in general, pretty good quality products. If you like it then really that's all that matters.

Also, largely you get what you pay for with salmon. The exception is that if it's the first of the season it's a rip off and if it's the height of the season it's a great deal. But wild will typically cost more than farmed and Pacific probably more than Atlantic and those price differences are worth it IMHO.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Yes, color varies in salmon depending upon diet. You can't always depend upon it.

Both Copper River and Columbia River salmon from Oregon are superb, some of the best we've ever eaten. They are a deep, rich orange.

Actually, out here only some of the mid-range restaurants serve whole fish and bone it out in front of you. Higher end restaurants serve you a 2" square or a few translucent thin slices and that's it!

As I'm always telling my DH, in a choice between quality and quantity, I'm going to choose quality every time. It's taken 40 yrs to get him to acknowledge I'm right. He still likes quantity, but he's gotten a lot pickier about his definition of acceptable quality, thank goodness.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2014 at 10:07PM
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ok hubby had a heart attack in jan.I learned alot about salmon he loves it.His cholesterol dropped 40 points because of veggies & salmon.Doctors said stay away from farm raised seafood.I also saw a special that said farm.raised is very dirty,so I buy only wild caught.I order mine from a company called Vita Choice good prices nicelso we were told stay away from lunch meat & smoked anything.looking fish,A;l

    Bookmark   September 13, 2014 at 3:39PM
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