Chinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and Atlantic. These are just five of the most well-known types of salmon found in the seafood section of your grocery store.
This fish's popularity can be attributed to its health benefits: It's got high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and B6, and calcium, as well as relatively low amounts of mercury. Salmon is also a versatile fish-you can grill, fry, poach, bake, roast, or sauté it. Its mild flavor lets other ingredients shine, and if you want the fish itself to shine, all it needs is some olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice. As with all fish, one telltale sign of freshness is its odor; if it lacks a fishy smell, it's fresh. And if you're looking for inexpensive caviar, try salmon roe. The egg's large, bright red-orange hue adds pizzazz to a dish.
Watch how to bone and poach a fish with our technique videos.
If you plan on smoking your own salmon fillets-steaks, while not impossible, will take much longer and may not cook as evenly-and are purchasing the wood planks from a housewares store, make sure that the planks are not chemically treated. Let the planks soak in water for at least one hour before placing the plank and the fish on your heat source. Besides cedar planks, try other hard woods, such as apple or alder, for a different flavor.
It's All in the Name
Lox, nova salmon, gravlax, kippered. It can get a little confusing with all the different types of cured salmon. Here's a quick tutorial. Kippered means the salmon has been brined and then baked. Lox is salmon that's been brined but not smoked. Nova used to refer specifically to the Nova Scotia Atlantic salmon, which was brined and cold-smoked. Nowadays it is used as a more general term for any cured salmon. Scottish- and Irish-smoked fish are dry-cured before being cold-smoked. Gravlax is salmon that's been dry-cured with no smoking.
Born to Be Wild
Look for wild salmon, the kind that isn't farm-raised. It will cost a bit more, but should be leaner and tastier and will probably have fewer traceable chemicals. If the cost is prohibitive, look for canned salmon, almost all of which comes from wild salmon. For more information on farmed and wild salmon, visit oceansalive.org and Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.
Grilled, Roasted, and Rubbed
Esther Sung first joined Epicurious.com in 2006. Prior to this, she spent several years in book publishing, including at Harper Entertainment, where the proverbial three-martini lunch was sadly nowhere to be found. When not in the office, she moonlights at the Bottle Shoppe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and through this she has developed a fondness for Syrah and Malbec. A quasi-vegetarian, she admits to having relished eating yuk hwe, a Korean raw beef dish.
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