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Wild Alaskan Salmon – A Super Healthy (and Delicious) Choice

September 16, 2010

With more and more consumers seeking food choices that are both healthy and delicious, Kim Wall, a seafood expert and president of Baensch Food Products, recommends trying recipes with Wild Alaskan Salmon. It’s in season and fresh in stores right now.


Many health-conscious seafood lovers select Wild Alaskan Salmon when they are looking for a tasty and easy snack to prepare. Like herring, salmon delivers essential omega-3 fatty acids in support of a strong heart. Plus, fatty acids have been linked to strengthening the immune system, eyesight and mental health.


“Having just returned from Alaska, where wild salmon is plentiful, I can testify to its flavorful taste,” said Kim Wall. “It was very exciting for me to catch a variety of salmon, including King Salmon, Silver Salmon and Pink Salmon, and then prepare delicious dips and salmon chowder. Wild Alaskan Salmon will always be my first choice for taste and health.”


Wild salmon is woven into the daily lives of Alaskans. From songs and dances to Native totems and celebrations, Alaskans cherish and honor the wild salmon. More than 15,000 Alaskan families catch a total of one million salmon every year. They preserve the salmon in traditional ways, drying them on wooden poles or smoking them in sheds.


Salmon are anadromous, which means they migrate from saltwater to spawn in freshwater. Wild Alaskan Salmon are born in freshwater, migrate to saltwater and once fully mature and ready to spawn, swim back to freshwater – right to the very place they were born! The salmon spend between one and four years in freshwater, depending on the type of salmon. Then they become smolts and migrate to estuaries where freshwater and saltwater meet. It is there where the smolts undergo a series of changes that allow them to live in saltwater. Salmon then go to sea in search of food. After spending from six months to six years maturing at sea, the salmon swim back to freshwater. Excellent sight and sense of smell help salmon detect food, predators and their birth stream. As they return to the place they were born, salmon change color and shape. The male salmon usually form a curved mouth (called a kype) with large canine-like teeth. The males of some species also form a hump on their back. The female salmon do not change shape radically, but do change color.


For salmon, it can be a very long and rigorous journey filled with rapids and waterfalls to return to their natal streams. Research has shown that the farther and longer the wild salmon must travel to spawn, the more fat they pack on for the trip, making fish from long rivers especially delicious. Once they return to their natal stream, they breed and lay their eggs. After spawning they usually die within a week, fertilizing the stream and creating a nutrient-rich environment for the new infant salmon, fish, wildlife and plants. Biologists have identified over 130 different animals and plants that utilize the nutrients from salmon.


Because of Alaska’s excellent salmon management practices, salmon populations are well protected. Regulations enable large amounts of spawning salmon to make it to their natal streams. Individuals, communities, tribes, businesses, harvesters, government officials and organizations are partnering to sustain Alaska’s salmon runs today and into the future.


Alaska’s annual salmon run from early may to mid-September produces five different types of salmon you’ll find at your local seafood market or grocery store including: King Salmon or Chinook Salmon, Silver Salmon or Coho Salmon, Red Salmon or Sockeye Salmon, Pink Salmon or Humpy Salmon, Dog Salmon or Chum Salmon.


Wall recommends any of the five salmon listed and offers these easy and delicious recipes from her kitchen:




Salmon Chowder

½ C onion, finely diced

½ C celery, finely diced

½ C red bell pepper, finely diced

6 – 8 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, keep 5 or 6 six leaves per serving to the side for garnish

½ t fresh ground black pepper

4+ T butter

1 ½ C chicken stock

3 C red skinned potatoes, finely diced*

1 LB fresh Alaskan salmon, skinned, boned and cut into small chunks

1 one-half pint heavy whipping cream

½ LB smoked Alaskan salmon, skinned and cut into small chunks


Choose a stock pot with a tight fitting lid. Heat pot over medium heat. When pot is hot add butter. Once butter is melted add onion, celery and red bell pepper. Add more butter if needed. Add thyme and black pepper. Sauté over low heat, with lid on pot to retain moisture, until vegetables are well cooked, approximately 30 minutes. Do not caramelize – just sweat the vegetables.


Add chicken stock and potatoes; bring to a soft simmer. Cover pot and cook potatoes until al dente, not mushy. Test periodically with a fork for desired texture.


Once potatoes are cooked add fresh salmon; bring to a soft simmer. Cover pot and cook salmon until opaque. Add smoked salmon and whipping cream. Bring again to a soft simmer. Once smoked salmon is heated through, serve chowder in coffee mugs or small cups as this is very rich and thick. Garnish with reserved thyme.


*Potatoes – While vegetables are cooking, dice potatoes, skin on, and place in large bowl of cold water. Replace with fresh water periodically. This process will keep potatoes nice and white and remove some of the starch. Completely drain the potatoes before adding them to the stock.


Makes approximately 8 cups of Chowder.




Buffalo Salmon Dip

6 oz pouch, cooked, wild caught Alaska pink salmon

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 C ranch dressing

3-4+ T hot sauce of your choice

1/2 C cheddar cheese, shredded


Cream together cream cheese, hot sauce and ranch dressing. Fold in cheddar cheese. Fold in Salmon. Refrigerate in air-tight container. Eat as a cold dip or put in crock pot to warm until heated through, then leave on a low setting. Serve with celery sticks, tortilla chips and/or crackers.


Note: Try experimenting with different kinds of hot sauce to change the flavor. Cajun, Mexican, Thai, Asian – just let your imagination run wild. Also this dip is excellent hot, served over noodles as a main course. A seafood twist to mac and cheese.