Original recipe published by Chef Mike Ward
For more recipes, visit www.chefmikeward.com
This gorgeous Rainbow Trout dish contains all the flavours of a relaxing running brook. Tastes that will cleanse your soul and take you back to nature. Wow… I sound like I’ve sold the car and moved off the grid!
Note: Takes 4 hours (for pickling) – Serves 3.
Vexing and heated is the question of salmon. The reasons to eat it are many, and obvious: For one thing, it’s a delicious, very versatile fish to cook; adaptable to myriad methods of preparation (grilled, baked, pan fried, deep fried, stuffed, planked, smoked, cold-cured … the list goes on), and undeniably healthy, as a source of high-quality protein, vital omega 3 fatty acids, and anti-oxidants. (Mind you, these days everything short of used tires and roofing nails seems to be marketed for miraculous “anti-oxidant” qualities. I haven’t noticed anyone rusting lately, and so am somewhat skeptical. We’ll look at the whole “oxidant” question in a future issue).
Reasons not to eat it are also numerous. Salmon are carnivores that function high up the food chain. Like all top predators, that means they accumulate and concentrate toxins and pollutants from their environment. Heavy metals (such as mercury), complex hydrocarbons (such as PCB’s and all their friendly relatives), and even pharmaceuticals, hormones and pesticides from human and agricultural waste run-off enter the food chain in trace amounts, lodge in the fatty tissues of growing salmon, and, in the wrong waters, result in a menacing meal. The spawning cycle makes them highly vulnerable to environmental degradation: logging, dams, mining effluents and other pressures the water table have placed certain species and breeding populations at risk of collapse. Over-fishing in ocean waters adds to the problem.
So what is one to do? Is it possible to enjoy the nutritional and sensory benefits of salmon without contributing to the destruction of the species, or oneself? Two possible sources of the fish present themselves: farmed salmon is touted by proponents as a way to harvest without adding pressure to vulnerable wild fish stocks. Wild-harvest salmon is lauded as a more natural, healthful seafood alternative that sidesteps the pitfalls of industrial fish farming. Each presents unique challenges, and potential solutions. It is possible to combine specific species of sustainably caught wild salmon with certified, responsibly farmed fish in such a way that the impact on health and ecosphere is minimized. Assessing how to do so requires first understanding the potential problems.
Fish is now the world’s most-traded animal commodity, with about 100 million tons of wild and farmed fish sold each year!
When The Healthy Butcher started offering fish for sale – first a small selection at the Queen location, and then larger selections at the Eglinton and Kitchener locations – we were faced with a myriad of options to choose from, and countless questions from customers who were fed up with asking grocery store clerks and fishmongers that could not provide answers… especially to the most basic question – should I or shouldn’t I buy and eat this fish? Without a doubt, for anyone with a conscience or who cares for their health, eating fish is much more complicated than it used to be.
To satisfy growing demand, we are catching fish and shellfish faster than they can reproduce, pushing their populations lower and lower; industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. Of course, there’s a limit to how much the ocean can produce and how many fish we can catch before fish populations are decimated to the point of no return – we’ve already seen it happen with Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Chilean seabass, Bluefin tuna, sharks and countless other species. Some experts predict that the world’s major commercial stocks will collapse by 2048 if current fishing practices continue.
This article was originally published in Tonic Magazine Summer 2011
Cooking fish on a hardwood or cedar plank is healthy, almost foolproof, absolutely delicious and impressive when served. The plank creates a gentle cooking environment, while adding a bit of smokiness that is perfect for pretty much any fish. Planks can usually be purchased for $2-4 and will last you several uses; cedar wood is to most common, maple wood is my favourite.
Follow these directions and you can’t go wrong; I’ve used a simple honey-dijon salmon recipe as an example. Although salmon is by far the most common fish cooked on a plank, the method works brilliantly with almost any type of fish filet or even whole fish – I’ve yet to discover a type of fish that doesn’t come out great cooked in this way.