Finally right? A review of the most highly recognized health food in the sport. Everyone and their yoga-enlightened grandmothers eat salmon these days. Why is that, because it is fucking tasty? Yup. Or is it the fact that it is ridiculously nutrient rich? Yup. Oh wait, or is it because it is lean and will help you stack on lbs of corded muscle so you can become the top dog at any open mat? Yup, even though we know that is about technique, not muscle. But having that little edge of strength could push you ahead when you find yourself evenly matched skill wise. Back to the point, salmon, the black belt of the meat world for athletes. Sit down, pause Kurt Osiander’s “Move of the Week” for a second and learn a bit about why salmon is truly so amazing. In this review of salmon, you will find out how to select the most beneficial salmon, how you benefit from it and then how to enjoy your salmon in a new way with a badass (and easy) Grappler Gourmet recipe!
Salmon, it’s a fish. No longer only eaten by fishermen and bears, but grapplers too! Salmon is one of the most notoriously nutritious foods out there. Packed full of everything you need to be healthy and more. Not only is salmon a great source of super lean protein, but the leading source of Omega-3 fatty acids. There is a shocking amount of omega-3 found within salmon. Want to know what else is amazing? That’s not the best part. Salmon contains bioactive peptides that may yield amazing results such as support for your worn and torn joint cartilage. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see this, I’ll even put it simply for our smash and pass guys/gals out there. Salmon, good.
Seeing as most of you are avid readers, or soon to be avid readers of this site, then you know the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. They are the building blocks of solid nutrition for us BJJ nut jobs. Omega-3 fatty acids are so important they even make fish oil pills which make your burps smell like a grizzly bears fart. But the good outweighs the bad because of the benefits to control our inflammatory process, improve brain function, and reduce cardiovascular risks. You can’t teach heart, but you sure can help strengthen and protect it. Did I also mention omega-3 fatty acids that aid in joint protection along with bone and surrounding tissue strengthening? The best defense to submissions is garbage if you have bad joints and brittle bones.
Fun Trivia: How much salmon would it take to get the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acids from the combined food the average person consumes over several days?
Answer: 4 oz. The average person consumes very little foods containing the wonderful amino acid that is abundantly found within salmon. A 4 oz piece of salmon contains 4 grams of Omega-3, which is the suggested daily value. Potato chips, protein bars, and most of the other crap people eat do not contain any. You’ve just been learned.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SALMON?
Time of Day: All major meal periods can benefit from the high-quality protein source that is salmon. I would opt more for lunch/dinner over breakfast time because some days you are just not ready for fish in the morning.
Time of Year: For wild caught the ideal time of year would be between May-September.
WHICH SALMON IS NOT LIKE THE OTHERS?
When it comes to salmon though not all fish are treated equally, so understanding what species you are buying and more importantly where they come from becoming important. You don’t want to be spending all your hard earned loot on mercury filled, deformed and weak salmon. They won’t taste as good and will be lacking in nutrient content. Make sure to pick your salmon like your training partner, go for the biggest, strongest and uninfected. Salmon sadly do not wear colored belts to give an indicator on their quality, but they do wear labels that will help us figure it all out.
Atlantic Salmon: One major species that is the most commonly found and purchased salmon. 70% of what you will find will be Atlantic Salmon. It is full-flavored and the most versatile for cooking. Due to overfishing, the Atlantic Salmon you will find is primarily farm raised.
Pacific Salmon: There are 5 species of Pacific Salmon all of which come with their own qualities. The species are as follow:
Chinook (King:) Meaty and very “pure” in flavor. Ideal for grilling because of higher fat content.
Coho or Silver Salmon: Usually found in late summer through the end of fall on the market. They have firmer flesh that is gamy and rich. Ideally, you would use Coho in poaching or shallow poached situations.
Pink Salmon: Wait aren’t all salmon pink? This salmon is the smallest of the Pacific salmon and is perfect for roasting, frying or pan searing. The flavor is subtle and slightly sweet. When you get canned salmon, this is what you are getting.
Sockeye (Red:) When you want raw salmon, this is the clear winner. Rich, full flavored with a good amount of fat. The dense fish is usually found on the market starting in late Spring.
Chum: The least glorified flavor-wise, but they are abundant. So you will find chum salmon primarily canned, cured or smoked.
Norwegian Salmon: Simply just Atlantic Salmon that have been farm raised in Norway.
FARM RAISED VS WILD
With the ever-growing scare of contamination and pollution of our oceans, lakes, and rivers you will run into our fish being affected. Well isn’t that obvious because the life in the damn water! But there are keys to look forward to reducing the risks. Granted fisheries and the FDA have strict regulations to help safeguard us but we are better safe than sorry right? Well, you also run into risk with farmed fish because of what they are fed. Knowing the difference between our salmon can be important.
Wild-caught: Are just like the sound, fish caught in the wild. Meaning these fish are more natural and have 20% more protein, 20% lower fat, and more omega-3. Even though they do come with a heftier price tag per pound, it would be worth it to splurge on a nice piece of wild caught salmon from time to time. You buy the most expensive gis and supplements don’t you? Why? Because of the quality, the same applies to salmon.
Farm Raised: Salmon being raised by fisheries within controlled and confined tanks. You run the risk of higher levels of contamination because of what farmed fish are fed. Farm raised salmon are more readily available and are more affordable. With farm-raised the salmon will have a higher fat content but oddly enough, lower amounts of protein and importantly omega-3 fatty acids.
- Protein paired with amino acids mean great joint protection
- High in omega-3 fatty acids which are the head honcho of anti-inflammatory packed nutrients.
- So cool they named a color after it.
- Selenium is another nutrient that is highly concentrated in Salmon that reduces joint inflammation.
- Improved brain and cell transfer function.
- Reduces the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases
- Delicious, nutritious, easy to prepare, and versatile.
COOKING TIPS AND TRICKS:
Flavor pairings: anchovies, avocado, bacon, basil, capers, bread crumbs, chervil, chives, citrus, coriander, corn, cucumber, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, leeks, lemon, lime, mayonnaise, mushrooms, mustard, black pepper, shallots, snow peas, spinach, tarragon, tomato, vinegar
Methods of cooking: Baked, braised, broiled, grilled, pan-fried, roasted, poached, sauteed, seared, steamed
Selecting & Storing Tips and tricks
- Find a reputable fishmonger, aka the person who sells fish. This can also be generalized as a store that carries high-quality fresh fish. You do not want to skip here.
- Try and always buy your Salmon, and all fish for that matter, earlier in the day and early to mid-week. Avoid weekends because fresh fish deliveries will be not as frequent.
- When selecting fish filets opt for thicker filets. They will come from the front of the fish and result in better taste and texture.
- If the fish smells through the packaging, put it back.
- The flesh should have little to no separation and look dense.
- If wrapped in plastic, make sure there’s little to no liquid in the container.
- When you are going grocery shopping varies from day to day, but when you get your fish, make sure you have very little time between the store and home. Once you fish leaves the water, it is on a fast track to going bad.
- If you feel that you will be carrying around your groceries to the gym with you, bring a cooler and an ice pack to store your fish in.
- Most refrigerators run warmer than you think, store your fish in a Tupperware container covered in ice just to be safe.
- Shelf life assuming you got a fresh piece of salmon with ice is 3 – 4 days, without would be 1 – 2.
Salmon, though on the pricier side of protein, is truly worth its weight in gold. There is a clear cut reason why all nutritionists, health food advocates, and athletes swear by it. The benefits that are packed into the scaley little bastards are insane. We often spend more time on the mats than anywhere else, especially the kitchen. By cooking and eating salmon you are not spending a lot of time, but you are gaining the most out of it.
Eat well, train hard. Oss.