The supermodel glomps down the runway, her lanky limbs bobbing beneath clothing too complicated to name (Is it a dress? Pants and a top? Or is she simply swathed in layers of gorgeous fabric, strategically exposing only a few jutting bones and her most private body parts?) These clothes on the runway aren’t expected to be worn as is by the masses, but chances are some detail of them will make it onto the racks of your local Macy’s or Bloomingdales.
So it is, more often than not, with nutrition research. We would be fools to take studies so literally that we eschew all other fruit for the brain-enhancing power of blueberries; avoid all sugars from all sources because its been proven sugar is bad for us in quantity; or eat only monounsaturated fats hoping to improve our heart health. And I would be foolish to try to carry off the swath that 6-foot tall, 100-pound angular model manages to make look sexy in a skinny sort of way, but I could rock that asymmetrical neckline on my new dress.
We don’t need to be literal about our take-away from nutrition reports. Just because rats’ moods change when fed high doses of certain probiotics doesn’t mean we should stuff our faces full of them to counteract depression. On the other hand, just as it is a good bet that if all the designers feature navy blue in their collections it is likely to be THE color of the season, if twenty large, well-run studies show that people who consume more fish have better cardiovascular health, its a pretty good bet fish is good for your heart. It doesn’t mean eating fish will eradicate your heart disease. No food is a magic pill.
No single ingredient or a single nutrient cures us, just as no one food is solely responsible for our ill health. (Unless that is all one eats, I suppose. And frankly, if you are eating only one food, or one food in such excess, your problems may reach well beyond those of nutrition). But it is fair to say you want to include certain foods in your diet because you like them and their health benefits.
There is strong evidence that eating fish high in omega-3s, like salmon, even once a week, can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 17-36 percent. There is also significant evidence that omega-3s improve early brain development– which means salmon should play an important part in pregnant women’s and toddler’s diets. Sadly, despite some small studies, there is not (yet?) good evidence that salmon improves adult brain function. (So all the salmon I’ve been eating this summer is unlikely to land me a Pulitzer).
Both wild and farmed salmon are high in omega-3s. Some folks worry that farmed salmon can increase the risk of cancer due to contamination by PCBs and dioxins. But Dariush Mozaffarian, a researcher and epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health, told me something shocking in an an interview a couple of years ago. Despite all the buzz about these contaminants in farmed salmon, the levels are about the same as in beef and chicken. That is either good news about farmed salmon or bad news about beef and chicken.
Most– but not all– farmed salmon is raised in ways that are unsustainable and harmful to the environment. It takes a lot of food to grow a farmed salmon– about three pounds of wild fish, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. (They are the folks, by the way, with the indispensable, free app that recommends which fish you should or should not buy. I use it at the fish counter to make my buying decisions). Waste from the dense population of farmed salmon grown in crowded pens in coastal waters can contaminate the surrounding ocean.
The water in the Copper River area is as clean and pure as any I’ve ever seen. Wild Alaskan salmon is very closely monitored to ensure it is fished only by methods that respect the environment and in amounts that ensure there will be ample stocks of fish in the future.
These salmon have just made the long hard journey to get to the Copper River, where they will lay or fertilize eggs. Look at the pristine water!
This salmon is underwater. You see that level of detail — right down to the individual scales– because the water is as clear as the Alaska air.
Maybe it is the pristine waters of Alaska that give Copper River King salmon it’s rich, pure, clean flavor. King salmon doesn’t taste fishy, yet its flavor is a gentle reminder of oceans and rivers. It is the largest Pacific salmon, the most prized, and the one with the shortest season. (The season is winding down now.) It is typically the most costly of all salmon, and well-worth the splurge.
Grilled Copper River King Salmon with Balsamic Drizzle over Grilled Peach Salad
Ebo came up with this recipe for our latest delivery, and it just knocked my socks off. For the record, he made a a second batch of the sauce that Rachel and I used on chicken, strawberries, peaches, chicken and, finally, our fingers. If you don’t keep eating it all up, the sauce keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
by David Bonom
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon orange juice, divided
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 peaches, about 1 pound, quartered
2 red onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
8 cups baby arugula
4 (6-8-ounce) Copper River King salmon filets, pin bones removed
1. Preheat the grill for direct medium heat cooking, about 350°-450°F.
2. Combine 1/4 cup orange juice, vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until syrupy, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter until melted. Keep warm.
3. Brush the peaches and onion slices with 1 tablespoon oil and place on cooking grates over direct heat. Grill until the peaches are marked and just starting to soften slightly, 3-4 minutes, turning once. Grill the onion until marked and tender, 10-12 minutes, turning once. Transfer peaches and onion to a cutting board and cut each peach crosswise into 3 pieces, cut each onion slice in half. Transfer to a large bowl and add the cilantro, remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and arugula, toss well. Divide among 4 plates.
4. Brush the salmon with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush cooking grates clean and place the salmon, flesh side down, over direct heat. Grill, with the lid closed, until the salmon is cooked through but still slightly translucent in the center, 9 to 12 minutes, turning once. Serve over the salad. Drizzle the sauce over the salmon.