Salmon is a fish not suited for frying

Fish consumption across the United States is at its peak now, during the 40-day period of Lent. U.S. consumption of seafood is 20% higher than typical this month, according to research firm Datassential.

The Journal-News recently listed a dozen fish fry venues this month just in Butler County. Frying fish at home is messy, and access to good quality fish suitable for frying is challenging here in landlocked Butler County.

Our local fish fries do a great job with the frying, and they’re for a good cause. The fish itself is sometimes merely OK.

Salmon is by far the most popular variety of fish in the United States, but it is not well-suited for frying. I prefer grilling.

Jamie Oliver (“The Naked Chef”) recommends grilling salmon wrapped in a newspaper. He writes “the paper will begin to burn, giving you a fantastic subtle smoked flavor.”

Jamie uses The London Times, but that paper is now a tabloid, so too small for grilling a large filet, and not available here anyway. The Journal-News is happily still full-sized, but many of you are reading this column on-line rather than in print.

Instead of using the Journal-News, I wrap the salmon in aluminum foil. I suppose print readers unhappy with my column could try using the Journal-News.

Before sealing up the salmon, spread a mix of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard across it, and sprinkle some dill and paprika. Paprika helps char slightly, giving the top of the salmon a bit of crunch.

MOON Co-op Grocery gets its salmon from Tony Wood, originally from Carbondale, Illinois, who catches it in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Captain Tony brings his catch ashore, where a team headed by his wife Heather Huffman fillet, clean, and flash freeze the fish, and ship it overnight express to MOON Co-op Grocery.

In contrast, nearly all salmon sold in the large supermarket chains labeled Alaska wild caught is actually shipped to China, where low-wage workers fillet the fish. It is cheaper for U.S. companies to ship the salmon to China, then reship it to the United States, than to pay American workers to fillet the fish. Altogether, the salmon’s journey from Alaska waters via China takes about 2 months just to reach supermarket warehouses, not even the retail outlets.

If you have a large filet, use the leftovers to make salmon cakes. For each 1 pound of fish, mix 1 egg, 1/4 cup finely ground bread crumbs, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika and mix well.

Form the mix into cakes and fry in grapeseed oil. Fry in batches if necessary; don’t crowd the pan. Serve with a cocktail sauce of 2 parts ketchup and 1 part horseradish.

Meanwhile, if you truly miss fried fish, consider French fries to accompany your salmon. I’ll never forget the time as a teenager when I astounded a close friend by quickly turning a raw potato into French fries. He thought I was a conjurer or magician.

MOON Co-op Grocery is Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. MOON Co-op, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day. See it online at

About the Author