From left to right: Exectutive Chef David Garcelon of the Royal York Hotel, Nutritionist Leslie Beck, Mike Cooke, CEO of Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
Earlier this week, I attended an event at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel to celebrate the partnership of new eco-certified True North Salmon and the Royal York Hotel. I've previously hailed the fabulously fresh practices of True North here and here. Cooke Aquaculture Inc., the parent company of True North Salmon is the first company in North America to achieve third party certification to the internationally-recognized Seafood Trust Eco-label, which is certainly cause for a celebration!
Mike Cooke, CEO of the family-owned company, spoke to us about their efforts toward sustainability. I chatted with him for a bit and he's my kind of guy: real, unpretentious and passionate about what he does. In 1985, he started Cooke Aquaculture with his father, brother, and one employee to raise farmed Atlantic salmon in the Bay of Fundy. The company now has more than 1,600 employees and is listed as one of the 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada. His company cares about the environment because, as he says,"We live in the communities where we operate."
Executive Chef David Garcelon spoke to us about the menu. We ate horseradish harvested from the hotel's roof top patio and savoured the culinary star of the day, eco-certified salmon.
I sat at a table with new friends John Rose, President of Icy Waters Arctic Charr; Derek Hori, Sales and Operations Manager at Icy Waters; and veteran food writer, Alexa Clark, of Cheap Eats. I was pleasantly surprised when Canadian food writing icon Elizabeth Baird, of Canadian Living, Food Network Canada and Toronto Sun fame, joined our table. Both Alexa and Elizabeth raved about the spectacular New Brunswick salmon facilities. Apparently they have fish behavioural psychologists that can read signs to tell when the fish have eaten enough so they don't overfeed them and can minimize waste. Mussels line the bottom of the tanks to eat leftover food and other waste products. Spic and span!
The meal was divine.
Globe and Mail contributor and nutritionist, Leslie Beck, discussed the benefits of salmon (of which there are many.) Her key message was basically RUN! Don't walk! Eat salmon right now.
Eating salmon twice a week can make a world of difference in your body by significantly reducing your chances of getting a lot of diseases. I like to think I know a thing about nutrition and wellness (since I'm a certified specialist), but even I was astounded by some of the stats Beck offered.
Eating salmon twice a week (6 oz total), as recommended by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Association means:
- Heart disease – 80% reduced risk
- Type 2 Diabetes – 90% reduced risk
- Cancer – 60% reduced risk (with particular benefits pertaining to prostate cancer)
- Macular degeneration – 30-60% reduced risk
- Alzheimer's disease - 60% reduced risk
- One of the best natural sources of vitamin D, something everyone is talking about these days as an immune-booster and cancer prevention aid
- One of the best natural sources of Omega-3 (DHA, EPA) – Although there isn’t yet a certified daily recommendation mandated by Health Canada, you should be getting 500 mg of DHA and EPA daily. (You should get 1000 mg of DHA if you have heart disease.)
- Daily DHA & EPA intake doesn’t matter because the body can store Omega-3. It's the weekly stats that count.
- DHA is crucially important for pregnant women, especially in the third trimester because it’s needed for brain and eye development – they should consume 12 oz per week
- Pregnant women should be concerned about high-mercury fish: escolar, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, and fresh or frozen tuna. Salmon is NOT in this category and can be considered safe for pregnant women.
- DHA and EPA are among the top bio-active ingredients being studied and discussed by cutting-edge experts in the nutrition and health community
I don't know about you, but all this info has got me thinking about eating a lot more salmon. The eco certification on True North Salmon means you can rest easy knowing the Atlantic salmon population is being monitored, maintained and treated right!
Here are a couple of simple recipes. Don't wait! Eat salmon tonight.
Preheat oven to 450°. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil with Pam or olive oil. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the pan. Squirt with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the salmon turns opaque. It’s ok to leave it pink in the very middle. It will keep cooking after you have removed it from the oven. Let the fish rest for 2-5 minutes. Serve.
Preheat a non-stick pan on medium-high heat, spray it with olive oil, and add the spices of your choice. Add a thin layer of flour or cornstarch to salmon. Place in pan skin side down. Keep an eye on the thick end of the fillet to see how far through it's cooked. You want to flip the fish when it's slightly less than 1/3 of the way through the fish. After flipping watch until it has cooked slightly less than 1/3 of the way from the other side. Remove from pan to let rest for 2-5 minutes. Serve.
All photos kindly credited to Chuck Brown Photography.