Summer Sizzle: Preparing Sustainable Salmon

When it comes to eating fat, less is better. Except when that fat is Omega 3 fatty acids like the stuff found in salmon. Research shows eating salmon two times per week offers health benefits, like reducing triglycerides, helps slow dementia and lowers levels of depression. Aside from all that, salmon simply tastes great! First, you have to buy it, and then you have to cook it.

Should You Buy Wild or Farmed Salmon?

Fortunately, this is not an either/or question. The answer is, you should buy both, or whatever your budget allows. Wild Alaska salmon season runs annually from May through October and sustainably farmed salmon is available year round.

Delicious portion of fresh salmon steak slices. Image via

Shopping for Sustainable Salmon

  • Look for bright, firm, shiny flesh that isn’t flaking.
  • If you’re buying whole fish, look for clear eyes and firm skin. Ask to press the flesh in the center, if there is resistance to the touch, buy it!
  • Don’t forget to ask for a small bag of ice, or remember to bring your insulated bag to transport the salmon.
  • Buy from a reputable, trusted source.
  • Look for and become familiar with the color-coded eco labels that identify a salmon’s origin and or responsible fishing practices. A few ubiquitous labels in the US:
  • The round blue label from Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)
  • The oval blue label with a white checkmark from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
  • Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch, the gold star in sustainable seafood guides offers green labels for best choice, yellow for good alternative, and red labels means you should avoid that species.
  • Buy salmon online or through a Community Supported Fisheries. Be aware of shipping charges and minimum weight requirements though. Ask a friend or family member to share the weight and freight requirement to help reduce your cost.

Preparing Sustainable Salmon

At home, keep the salmon in the coldest part of the refrigerator usually in the back, until you are ready to cook, or freeze the salmon its original packaging up to several weeks.

Ready to cook?

Preparing Sustainable Salmon

Image via PHG.

Copper River King Salmon with Tomato Corn Salsa

Serves 4

Preparing sustainable salmon by pan searing is quick and easy using fresh herbs and butter to produce a crisp skin and a caramelized top leaving the center flesh warm and tender. Top with a scoop of fresh Tomato Corn Salsa to add bright sweet flavors. Green chiles add a hint of heat. The salsa is also good with seared scallops or other fish, like Alaska halibut, which is also in season this time of year.

Ingredients for salsa

1 cup corn, cooked and shaved from 2 cobs

½ cup diced tomatoes

½ cup drained black beans from can, rinsed

2 tablespoons diced green chiles

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground coriander seeds

Dash garlic powder

Dash cayenne

2 teaspoon olive oil

Ingredients for the salmon

Dash kosher salt

Dash black pepper

4 (6 8 ounce) king salmon portions, skin on, pin bone out

2 tablespoons canola oil

4 tablespoons butter

Several sprigs fresh mint and basil, chopped


In a medium bowl, add corn, tomatoes, green chiles, spices and olive oil. Stir to coat, careful not to bruise tomatoes.

Heat two 10 to 12 inch skillets on medium high heat for three to four minutes.

While the skillet warms, pat the salmon dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Add canola oil to the pans and swirl. When oil shimmers, place the salmon, skin side down in the pan. Cook for three minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Turn salmon, (only one time) and add the butter and fresh herbs to the pans. Working quickly, use a large serving spoon to baste the salmon with the melted herb butter continuously for the remaining cook time, about three to four minutes.

Remove the salmon from the heat. Serve either skin up or skin down. Eating salmon skin is a personal preference and not everyone likes to eat the skin or see it. Top salmon with Tomato Corn Salsa. Serve immediately with cauliflower puree as pictured or with a green salad for a balanced, delicious meal.

Appetite required.

Salmon buying resources

About The Author

Maureen Berry
Maureen C. Berry is the author of forthcoming Eating Salmon (Storey Publishing), the first in a series of sustainable seafood cookbooks. When she’s not cooking and writing, she photographs wildlife and takes naps. She writes the blogs Seafood Lady: Sustainable. Seafood. News. and A Cook Writes. Maureen lives in Kentucky with her husband and their neurotic, lovable, wire fox terrier. You can find her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.