By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The trend in salmon is wild. Most salmon at the market is farm-raised - grown in netted pens in the ocean. But wild salmon - caught in the fresh and salt waters of the Pacific Northwest and shipped directly to stores - is gaining popularity, even though it's not available year-round and usually costs more than twice as much as the tame fish.
Linda Smith of Bounty Seafood in Anderson Township holds a 20 lb. wild red king salmon from Alaska.|
(Brandi Stafford photo)
Gorgeous red Copper River salmon from Alaska, the most prized wild variety, should swim into stores and restaurants within the next week.
Get ready to catch it.
Flavor: Wild salmon has a distinctive rich and buttery flavor, with a more dense texture than farm-raised fish. Health: Because wild salmon live in a natural habitat and are caught seasonally (generally May to September), the fish has more healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And a report last year by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group showed farm-raised salmon contains higher levels of PCBs and other cancer-causing contaminants than wild salmon. Pen-raised fish are sometimes fed processed food containing antibiotics and synthetic dyes to turn their flesh red.
Environment: Groups such as the Wild Salmon Center in Portland, Ore., claim salmon farms pollute estuaries and other habitats, and threaten wild fish populations. Wild salmon is currently protected as an endangered species, although if accepted, a recent federal proposal may remove that protection.
What about the high price?
The cost of wild salmon may range from $13 to $28 a pound, depending on the season and where it's caught (Copper River is usually the most expensive). But because it's rich-flavored and dense-textured, you don't need to eat as much - maybe only 1/4 pound. Frozen wild salmon, available at Jungle Jim's Market in Fairfield and other stores, costs considerably less - about $10 to $13 per pound.
Types of wild salmon
Here are the four major types of wild salmon:
Chinook or king: Among the best, high-fat (omega-3) and soft-textured with color ranging from off-white to bright red.
Coho or silver: Another healthy, high fat fish, it's firm-textured with pink to red-orange flesh.
Sockeye or red: Firm, deep red and prized for canning.
Atlantic: Wild population has diminished greatly over years due to over-fishing and pollution. Most salmon labeled "Atlantic" is farm raised.
How to cook and serve it
Generally, salmon require about 10 minutes of cooking per inch of thickness. (Begin checking for doneness after 7 minutes.) Grill or roast over moderate heat. Season with olive oil and salt, and grill or pan-roast in a 350-degree oven. Or, for a smoky-sweet flavor, oven-roast it on a cedar plank ($44.95) from Cook's Wares in Symmes Township, Liberty Township and Springboro, or from Sur la Table in Norwood.
Chefs recommend serving wild salmon simply, with a flavored butter and/or fresh herbs.
Something to sip
If you're going to splurge on the fish, you might as well drink the best wine with it. Wine guy Todd Templin of Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton and Springboro, suggests two Oregon wines to accent the flavor of wild salmon: Chehalem Vineyards 2002 Pinot Gris ($16.99) and A to Z 2002 Pinot Noir ($19.99).
Where to buy it
Most grocery stores and fish shops carry fresh wild salmon when it's in season, generally May through September. If you don't see it, ask when the fish will be available.
Where to eat it
Encore Cafe, West Chester Township, 759-0200; and Symmes Township, 774-7072.
J's Restaurant, Hyde Park, 871-2888.
Michael G's, Columbia Tusculum, 533-3131.
Mitchell's Fish Market, Newport, (859) 291-7454; and West Chester Township, 759-5292.
Mount Adams Fish House, Mount Adams, 421-3250.
Palomino's, downtown; 381-1300.
Sturkey's Restaurant, Wyoming, 821-9200.
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