Why You Should Buy Your Wild Salmon Frozen

By: Lisa D’Agrosa, M.S., R.D.  |  "Salmon Smarts," May/June 2016

Wild salmon is considered one of the healthiest fish you can eat. It's high in heart-healthy omega-3s, and most varieties are considered a sustainable choice. But in the past few days wild-caught salmon from Alaska has been in the news—and not for something positive.

A new CDC report found that some wild-caught salmon from Alaska contained tapeworms and their larvae. Before you squirm at the thought of worms in your fish, know that parasites in fish occur naturally and are not considered a contamination. You have a relatively low risk of getting sick from them if the fish you eat is cooked or was frozen at any point, since parasites are killed via cooking and freezing.

Most wild-caught fish is frozen at sea, so frozen or previously frozen fish is often the "freshest" choice available at the market. If you do buy frozen wild salmon, you don't need to be concerned about getting sick from parasites. Same goes for if you cook the fish well. The FDA recommends cooking to 145°F or until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. But if you like your salmon raw (hello, sushi) or undercooked, you might want to check that it has been frozen. Just ask your fishmonger or inquire at the restaurant. Or freeze it yourself, but make sure it's frozen solid for at least 24 hours, per the CDC.

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6 Salmon Species to Look for at the Fish Counter

 

Wild Pacific Salmon:

Most wild salmon is considered a sustainable choice. There are five species of salmon commercially fished in the Pacific.

Chum (dog or keta)

Lean and affordable. Best cooked with moist-heat techniques, like braising or simmering.

Sockeye (red)

Very flavorful. Firm flesh and high in fat. Thin fillets can easily overcook.

Pink (humpies)

Smallest, most plentiful species, with a delicate flavor. Most often canned. Poach or sauté if fresh. Buy online at Lummiislandwild.com.

Coho (silver)

Mild flavor. Just enough fat to grill or bake; equally good poached or cooked gently in soups.

King (chinook)

Largest species, with the most fat. Perfect for roasting or the grill.

 

Farmed Salmon:

 

The most commonly farmed species is Atlantic, which no longer has a significant wild population. Most farmed salmon is not considered a sustainable choice. The exception: fish raised in land- or tank-based systems.

Atlantic (leaper)

Large and high in fat, this salmon is full-flavored, moist and very versatile for cooking.

Original reporting on types of salmon first appeared in EatingWell Magazine. Illustrations by Emma Dibben.

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Original reporting by Langdon Cook on types of salmon first appeared in EatingWell Magazine. Illustrations by Emma Dibben.