How to Eat Canned Salmon

“How do you eat canned salmon?” is a common query from folks we meet at our food demonstrations.

Serving salmon sample at Whole Foods Market
Serving salmon sample at Whole Foods Market

Canned Alaska salmon, especially in its traditional form, can be somewhat of a mystery food to the uninitiated. Complete with skin and bone, ‘traditional pack’ canned salmon I like to think of as the food symbol of the great, raw, wild, supremely healthy country that it came from Alaska.

People who have eaten canned salmon since childhood are comfortable with the presence of the highly nutritious skin and bone, sometimes claiming to having fought with their siblings over who got those delicious crunchy little vertebrae.

Two cans of salmon, Redhead and Thinkpink 'traditional' pack, as is, completely unadorned
Two cans of salmon, Redhead and Thinkpink ‘traditional’ pack, as is, completely unadorned

Other of us, often, ironically, from the salmon rich west coast, are puzzled, if not repelled by the presence of those highly nutritious anatomical parts that we mostly do not see in today’s highly processed foods. I look at a deboned chicken breast or pork and there is little there to remind us of the living, breathing creature that once is now that hunk of defenseless flesh.

Not so with canned Alaska salmon that skin and bone is a badge of the life that was lived by that beautiful creature that felt the drive to leave its natal stream, traveling the Pacific Ocean for thousands of miles, and then return to its exact place of birth.

Redhead wild Alaska sockeye salmon, straight from the waters of the great Bristol Bay, on a bagel
Redhead wild Alaska sockeye salmon, straight from the waters of the great Bristol Bay, on a bagel

I have said this many times, and it is true, when mixed into recipes those skin and bone seemingly dissolve into the recipe. We have served various canned salmon recipes to thousands of people, and not once has the person detected the skin and bone, though we quickly tell them. Traditional pack salmon has nearly double the long chain omega 3 fatty acids as skinless and boneless canned salmon fillets (which are delicious, too) and also provides calcium due to the presence of the bone.

How to Eat Canned Salmon;

  • Straight Out of the Can! Just open the can, maybe squeeze on some lemon, and fork on! There is simply not an easier, better protein source than canned Alaska salmon.
  • Finely chop celery, add salmon, whether Redhead (sockeye) or Thinkpink (pink) salmon, squeeze on lemon and put on a dollop of cocktail sauce.
  • Drain a little of the naturally occurring juices (the oily liquid in the can comes solely from the fish itself, there is nothing added but a little salt), then add a little olive oil plus some chopped onion. That really evens the flavor out in a very delicious way
  • Forrest Gump Says, “Salmon Cakes, Salmon Salad, Salmon On A Bagel, Salmon Chowder, Salmon Pasta, Salmon Wraps, Salmon Cocktail…”

Eat canned salmon at lunch, or better yet breakfast, like the Japanese or Scandinavians, and see if the hunger pains don’t stay away for hours. There something unique about protein from coldwater fatty fish that satiates like none other.

Delish, low calorie and energy sustaining!

Make a Better Day-Eat Canned Wild Alaska Salmon at Lunch

Shirley enjoying salmon on lemony coleslaw on her front porch.
Shirley enjoying salmon on lemony coleslaw on her front porch.

I do solemnly swear, canned wild Alaska salmon is the best lunch food in the world. Not only is it delicious, eating wild salmon at lunch seems to make for a better day all around. Whether it is the quality of the protein, or the abundant long chain omega3 fatty acids or the high vitamin D, I feel better when I have eaten wild salmon at lunch. Eating canned salmon makes that goal readily achievable. Just open the can! There couldn’t be a better, easier lunch.

A health care practitioner I once knew likened eating wild salmon to burning natural gas versus the ‘diesel’ of cheese or other proteins. He reasoned that eating fish metabolizes ‘hot and clean,’ like natural gas. This analogy fits my experience.

A very vibrant red sockeye salmon on a bagel
A very vibrant red sockeye salmon on a bagel

We at Pure Alaska Salmon Company love the many canned salmon recipes, but the day-in-day-out recipe that we most use is Salmon on a Bagel. This is optimal, delicious nutrition you can enjoy at the office with minimal preparation. The following is my recipe for three days of lunches.

I generally consume a half of a bagel at lunch. I could probably eat more, but a whole bagel is too much. If I am hungry, I lay on extra salmon, or maybe eat a few nuts.

Monday morning, bring in;

1. Two sliced bagels. If you you are concerned about them getting stale, freeze them, sliced, as they toast up just fine. Estimated average cost; $1.00

2. 1 can 7.5 oz (or 6 oz, if you prefer the fillets) can of Redhead sockeye salmon or Thinkpink pink salmon. Put the contents into a separate plastic container to refrigerate. Estimated average cost; $4.75.

3. A container of cream cheese or it’s less fatty cousin Neufchatel cheese. Neufchatel has about 1/3 less calories than cream cheese–70 calories versus 100 calories in a 1 oz serving, and the flavor is indistinguishable. Estimated Average cost $2.00

4. Three slices of lemon; Estimated average cost 25 cents

5. Optional; Some chopped onion and some capers. Estimated average cost 25 cents

All you need now is a can opener, a fork and a napkin to wipe your chin. If your office kitchen has a toaster, toast a half a bagel, and then spread on some cream cheese to taste. A scant two tablespoons should more than work. Open the can of salmon, and dump the contents into the storage container. Pick out about a third of the salmon and put on top of the cream cheese, squeeze on some lemon and maybe some onion and capers and dive in.

By my rough calculations this lunch has about 400 calories, at a cost of $ 3.00 per serving with about half the daily recommended requirement of protein for adults.

Try the Canned Salmon for Lunch Experiment and then ‘like’ on Facebook and leave a message about your experience on our blog. When we have 50 comments from 50 people, we will draw straws for a free variety pack of Pure Alaska wild Alaska salmon.

Canned Alaska Salmon and Colorado Cattle Ranching

Portrait of Winifred Raber
Winifred Raber, Western Colorado Woman of the West, and Canned Salmon Eater

Canned wild Alaska salmon, humble though it may seem, is one very phenomenal, incredibly nutritious food, with a rich history and a great story. Canned wild Alaska salmon isn’t just some food scientist’s creation, it is a defining food of our nation’s history.

Salmon canneries were a part of the earliest industrialization of the western United States, providing nutrition for our western pioneers. Salmon canneries were big business in the old days, with salmon canneries sprinkled up and down the Pacific Coast.

I remember my dear Aunt Winifred talking about loving and eating canned salmon in their remote cow camps in the high mesas of western Colorado.
Even though they were cattle ranchers, with hundreds of cattle, the lack of good refrigeration made canned Alaska salmon an accessible source of protein, that was the basis of many memorable meals up at the summer cow camp of the Grand Mesa of western Colorado.

Fortunately, Alaska salmon are still in great abundance. Alaska’s small population, lack of industrialization, it’s geographic isolation, and excellent, state of art, biological management happily conspire to make Alaska salmon runs as healthy as they were 100’s years ago.

Pink Salmon Fishing in Southeast Alaska
Pink Salmon Fishing in Southeast Alaska

Additionally, the quality of canned Alaska salmon has improved immeasurably in the past 25 years because most boats now feature chilled circulating seawater fish holds, thus the fish are kept in prime condition from the time they leave the pure Alaska waters, to when they arrive at the processing plant, hours later. So for those who last ate canned salmon 30 years ago, you have got a great surprise in store-canned Alaska salmon is delicious and fresh tasting-promise.

I also take comfort, as an ambivalent meat eater, that Alaska salmon live out nearly their entire lives as nature intended. They are captured just before they begin their final journey up a stream. By carefully monitoring the fishermen’s catch, relative to the fish escapement up the 1000’s of streams, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game optimizes stream and fish health. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is considered to be perhaps the most skilled fish managers in the world. The harmonious relationship between the commercial fishing industry and the fisheries biologists of Alaska is something to behold, and one wishes that we could all get along as well as the fishing industry of Alaska and the regulators.

Bering Sea Black Cod Longliners Eat Canned Alaska Salmon

Remo Lotscher and Andy Zuanich on rocking boat with Canned Salmon
Even Bering Sea fishermen like Remo Lotscher and Andy Zuanich eat canned Alaska salmon

Even in a literal sea of the world’s finest and freshest seafood, Alaska fishermen eat canned Alaska salmon. Remo Lotscher and Andy Zuanich of the M/V Primus take plenty of canned Alaska salmon on their longline trips in the Bering Sea. Canned Alaska salmon, both Thinkpink pink salmon and Redhead red salmon, are easy to eat and deliver the highest quality protein for optimal energy when working the long hours on a fishing boat. They eat canned Alaska straight out the can when there isn’t time for food preparation. Those are black cod that they are processing fresh on the boat.

23 Days of Canned Alaska Salmon-No Detectable Mercury

Smiling Jim Zuanich
A smiling Jim Zuanich after eating canned wild Alaska salmon for 23 days in a row

Jim Zuanich ate at least 3.5 ounces of Redhead or Thinkpink a day for 23 days at which time he had his blood mercury levels tested. There was no detectable mercury in his bloodstream. Zuanich also said he loved canned salmon more after he was done with his experiment, reporting that salmon at lunch made for more energy and a happier outlook than with other foods. “Nothing compares for lunch,” said Zuanich, skipper of the M/V Marshal Tito.


Why I Named My Boat the Marshal Tito, by Jim Zuanich

Portrait of Jim Zuanich
Jim Zuanich tells a good tale…

“Faced with the prospect of a poor salmon season in 1981, I crewed with some friends of mine for the Togiak (western Bristol Bay) herring fishery. The boat, the Ms B Haven and my friends were primarily Bristol Bay salmon fishermen. They told me that during the salmon season the numerous Italian and equally numerous Croatian fishermen were always disparaging each others ethnicity on the radio. Finally, an indignant Italian came back with ‘Name me one famous Croatian, I can name famous Italians all day, there’s Sinatra.’ After a long silence someone returned ‘Marshal Tito.’ I had no choice but to name a boat after him. I’m glad I’m not Italian, I’d hate to have to fish a boat called the Sinatra.” -Jim Zuanich

Marshal Tito was quite a guy. He successfully fought Hitler in World War II and managed to keep Yugoslavia the most free of the Communist satellite countries during the Cold War. Slav people were considered sub-human in the Nazi system of belief, and they were in line for extermination as well. It is hard to even write these awful thoughts. When Tito died in the early 80’s, ethnic war descended upon the peoples of what is now the former Yugoslavia. This is one famous quote credited to Tito in a note written to Stalin, a man perhaps as maniacal as Hitler.

A note from Tito to Stalin. “Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle. If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.” -Josip Broz Tito

Marshal Tito Fishing with tress and hills behind
Marshal Tito fishing offshore of Admiralty Island, Alaska – photo by Tony Lara

San Francisco News Anchor Eats Tuna

Tuna, in our opinion, is still a good food choice given the fact it is nutritious, inexpensive and global fish stocks, with some exceptions, are healthy. Eat tuna with some thought. This lady deliberately went overboard on eating tuna, but the lesson is still a valuable one. My advice to people, particularly if cost is an issue, (as it is for most of us), is to at least supplement tuna consumption with canned Alaska salmon. Cold water fatty fish are so good for us! Cold water fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon are the first specific food ever endorsed by the American Heart Association because it has such a profoundly positive effect upon human health. At Pure Alaska Salmon Company LLC, we encourage the consumption of canned salmon at lunch because we have noticed that a canned salmon lunch makes for a better day all around, and we don’t get that terrible vampire-like craving for sweets at 4 o’clock.

20 Cans 20 Days: Sue Kwon’s Award-Winning Mercury Report – Health, Fitness, and Nutrition.

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