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Salmon and Pesto August 8, 2011

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic American Dishes, Recipes.
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The summer tribute to basil continues.  However, since this recipe uses salmon, we need to talk about that first.  This fish thrives in the cold waters of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Norway and southern Chile.  The worldwide demand for salmon has led to commercial “farming”.  Basically, large pens are created along the coastline and the fish are fed grain-based feeds, growth hormones and antibiotics.  It’s chickens, pigs and cows in an ocean setting.  Note this recent quote from the NY Times on July 31, 2011:

“In 2007, a virus called infectious salmon anemia started killing millions of farm-raised salmon in Chile and devastated Chilean aquaculture. The virus was first detected in 1984 — long before salmon farming had spread around the globe — but what made it so lethal in 2007 was overcrowding in the offshore salmon pens and the fact that salmon were being raised in the midst of their own pollution. No one knew how the virus was transmitted, but a 2008 study at the University of Bergen determined it was carried in salmon eggs exported from Norway to Chile.”

Here is an even scarier thought.  Salmon are a relatively fatty fish, and the fats in farm raised fish (Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s) are very similar to those in corn fed beef and vastly different from the fats in “wild caught “ fish.  The grains used in salmon “feed” change the fatty structure in a very negative way.  (The same thing has happened as we have moved from grass-fed to corn-fed beef.)   When you eat farm-raised fish, the touted health benefits are lost – you might as well have a cheeseburger!

Bottom Line:  If you can afford to do so, stop eating the farm raised salmon and spend the extra money on “wild caught” or “line caught” products.  Wild caught Sockeye Salmon from Alaska is readily available now (August) and you can find it on sale for about $12 a pound.  Farm raised salmon is usually about $8 a pound, so there is a premium, but it is worth it.

So, after that diatribe, let’s get on with the show.  This is a recipe for 4 servings:

Ingredients:

Procedure:

  1. Cover a baking pan or an oven broiler pan with aluminum foil and place filets on the foil, skin side down.
  2. Slather (I love that word) the filets with the pesto sauce covering the tops completely.

    The Slather

  3. Remove the broiler pan from the oven and gently slide a rubber spatula spoon between the skin and the filet and put on serving plate.  You will find that the skin stucks to the foil and the skinless filet is easy to lift off, as you can see in the photo.

    No more skin

  4. Clean-up is a cinch – roll up the foil and throw in the garbage.

    The Cleanup

  5. Serve hot or at room temperature – it tastes great either way – but make sure everyone knows that you are using wild caught salmon and why.

This is a very simple recipe that will make your day as a Bravado chef.  You get to show that you are a purist – we call it Bravado authenticity – with homemade pesto and wild caught salmon.  You can talk about Omega fats, the ills of fish farming; you can wow the troops as you slide your spatula under the filets and separate the skin.  Sometimes there will be quiet murmurs of adoration and marvel at your skills, or you may encounter more exuberant responses like “Wow, how did you do this”.  Even children will eat this dish (try it if you don’t believe me), which makes their moms ever thankful that they have met a true Bravado chef.

Experiment with the recipe and let me know how it goes.

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Comments»

1. Lisa Laing - August 8, 2011

Love this recipe! Cooking times will vary with the thickness of the fish and your particular oven. For me, it took 20 minutes at 400 degrees, convection. Just make sure the fish flakes easily and you’re all set.

BTW, if you have any leftovers (unlikely), you can use them the next day to create instant salmon-pesto “salad” (think tuna salad, only better). Mash up any leftover’s with a fork and serve on crackers or toast. Easy!


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