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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grilled Bayou Salmon

Grilled Bayou Salmon
Salmon is a delicious and healthy treat. However, not all salmon are created equal. You can find wild caught and farmed salmon in markets and restaurants nowadays. What's the difference? First of all, farmed  fish are raised in hatcheries or open pen nets while wild salmon live in the wild and are caught by commercial fishermen. About 90% of all salmon sold in the U.S. today is farmed rather than caught wild. While salmon farming offers great potential to meet the global demand for high quality protein, there are some things about farmed salmon of which the consumer should be aware.

For example, the flesh of farmed fish can be grayish white in color. Therefore, farmed fish are fed artificial coloring that makes them pink. Also, farmed fish are often fed antibiotics and other chemicals. Further, farmed salmon can have higher concentrations of toxins than wild salmon because of the confined areas in which they are raised. There are also reports that wild salmon are more nutritious than farmed salmon and contain less "bad" fats than wild salmon. (PDF link)

A big problem is labeling. Tests performed for The New York Times in March of 2005 on salmon sold as wild by eight New York City stores, going for as much as $29 a pound, showed that the fish at six of the eight were actually farm raised which is available year round and sells for $5 to $12 a pound in the city when it's labeled correctly. The findings mirror suspicions of many in the seafood business that wild salmon could not be so available from November to March, the off-season, and the artificial coloring fed to farmed salmon make it even harder for the average consumer to tell the difference.

So, what's a person to do? Based upon EPA health standards, the Environment Working Group suggests limiting your intake of farmed salmon to one serving per month. They also recommend that it be prepared by broiling, baking, or grilling over frying. Did someone say grilling? While I prefer wild caught sockeye salmon, I like all salmon whether farmed or not and all of it has a place in my diet. I invite you to do some reading up on the subject and make up your own mind about the benefits and drawbacks of wild salmon versus farmed salmon.

This recipe for Grilled Bayou Salmon works for both wild and farmed fish. Here is what you need to get started:

Fresh Salmon Fillet
Todd's Bayou Dirt
Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning
Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Lemon Juice
Grill/barbecue smoker setup for indirect heat at 325 degrees F.

First, a word about the seasonings. Todd's Dirt is a line of delicious, gluten free spice and herb blends with just the right amount of salt. There are so many seasoning blends out there nowadays that have so much salt in them it's practically impossible to use them as a seasoning or rub for meat and seafood. You don't have that problem with Todd's Dirt rubs. The great thing about Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning is the fact that it's salt free. I prefer to control the amount of salt in my food and Magic Salt Free seasoning let's me do that.

1.) The skin was removed from the salmon fillet that I grilled. You don't have to remove the skin and some prefer to leave it on while grilling because it can help hold the fish together while it's cooking. I sprinkled the juice of half a lemon on each side of the salmon fillet. If the skin is still on your salmon, just season the side without skin.

2.) Once the lemon juice has been applied, I sprinkle on the seasonings. Use as little or as much as you prefer. I like to add cayenne pepper to mine too but that is optional.

 3.) Place the salmon (skin side down if the skin is on) in your grill or smoker that has been heated to 325 degrees F. Make sure there is no direct heat coming up under the salmon. Notice the smaller portions in the photo? I trimmed off the thinner portions of the fillet and cooked them separately because their thinner thickness will make them cook faster than the larger fillet.

4.) Close the lid on the grill/smoker and let the salmon cook until it reaches about medium rare to medium on the inside. This fillet took around 12 minutes to cook completely. Of course, the thinner pieces were done sooner. If you have to poke the thickest part with a fork and take a look at the flesh, that's fine. Just make sure you hit that magic level of doneness without over or under cooking the salmon.

5.) When the salmon is done, remove from the cooker, serve, and enjoy!

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