Monday, August 10, 2009

'Why is it so red?'

On my weekly trip to Costco in Hackensack today, I was fishing for another fillet of the fresh, wild sockeye salmon I have been enjoying for a couple of months ($8.99 a pound). "This is really good," I said to the woman next to me, referring to the salmon. "Why is it so red?" she replied.

I pointed to the word "wild" on the sign and tried to explain deep orange-red is the natural color. I don't think I got through to her. Not far away were shrink-wrapped packages of farmed Atlantic salmon whose artificial color is pale by comparison. This is the color people have become used to associating with salmon.

I've read that salmon farmers are shown a color palette and that the feed is then tailored with chemicals to produce the desired color. Wild salmon, on the other hand, get their color from a natural diet of shrimp and krill, which contain beta carotene.

I'll cut my wild salmon fillet into five or six portions; season it with salt, Aleppo red pepper and fresh, chopped oregano; and bake it for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees for medium rare. I can't wait for dinner.

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