All About Salmon
Life Cycle of The Salmon
The female digs a trench in the river bed and lays approximately 2,000 to 10,000 eggs and the male fertilizes them. The parents die.
Eggs hatch in about three months into alevin. These tiny creatures cannot swim, but have a tail allowing them to wiggle. An attached egg sac is their food.
Alevin develop into fry by absorbing the egg sac nutrition. They look like small salmon and feed on insects. The length of the fry stage is determined by the salmon species. Some species like Chinook salmon go immediately to the smolt stage; while others like Sockeye salmon, stay in the fry stage up to three years. Smolt are silver colored and begin their journey downstream to salt water, with a brief stop in an estuary for body adaptation --called smoltification -- to adapt to salt water.
Adult salmon live in the ocean (salt water), but return to their birthplace (fresh water) to spawn. An average salmon spends six months to seven years in the ocean. Major predators of salmon are bears, humans, killer whales, and other large fish.
Tips on Cooking Salmon
Thaw frozen salmon overnight in the refrigerator for safe food handling. Store fresh salmon at 40 degrees or colder until ready to cook. Salmon is an easy-to-prepare fish that can be cooked by: baking, poaching, frying, broiling, or grilling. The key to cooking salmon is to avoid overcooking. Salmon continues to cook even when removed from heat so watch it carefully. It is done when the flesh flakes lightly when pierced with a fork.
Bake – brush fish lightly with oil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes
Poach – bring poaching liquid to a boil, reduce to simmer and add fish, cook for 8 – 10 minutes.
Frying – preheat skillet over medium heat, add cooking oil, fry salmon five to six minutes per side.
Broil – heat broiler to medium-high, place fish on parchment paper, grill four to six minutes from heat for five to six minutes without turning.
Grill – preheat grill to medium-hot, brush with cooking oil, grill salmon 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
Fresh salmon has a mild odor; the flesh is firm and springs back when touched lightly. There should be no discoloration or spots. Frozen salmon should be securely packaged; check the bag for any rips or tears. It should be solidly frozen with no ice crystals. Choose Chum or pink for a light flavored salmon, and King or Sockeye for a robust flavor.
Purse seine nets, drift gillnets, hand or power trolls, and set gillnets are common means of commercial salmon fishing. Salmon are also caught for food, called subsistence fishing, or for pleasure in sport fishing.
A purse seine net is a large net supported by a ring that can be dipped into the water to scoop up schools of salmon. Drift gillnets are large pieces of mesh, usually stretched across the ocean floor, that trap salmon by the gills. Set gillnets are anchored in place and close to the water’s surface. Hand and power trolling is the use of a boat with many fishing poles attached to catch the salmon. The salmon are removed by hand or by mechanical means. Troll fishing yields a higher quality of fish as there is less damage to the salmon.
Diseases, Parasites, and Environmental Issues
The most common health issues for salmon are:
Virus – infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV)
Bacteria – furunculosis, bacterial kidney disease, columnaris, vibriosis
Parasites – sea lice, gyrodactylus, kudoa, henneguya, white spot, ich, gill amoeba
Some of the environmental issues regarding salmon are overfishing, loss of natural habitats, and diseases caused by global warming. The increase of salmon farms has caused a decline for salmon fisheries. Farmed salmon is produced in greater numbers and can be delivered quicker.
Salmon is a good food choice, high in omega 3 fatty acids, easy to cook, and packed with protein. Whether you choose wild caught or farm raised salmon, be sure to include it in your regular menu planning. Salmon is also great to include in a gift basket for a friend who enjoys seafood.