March 31, 2022

How to Fall in Love with Seafood: Eat Wild Salmon For a Month

I have never liked salmon. I know, great way to start a blog post about salmon.

Let me rephrase. Prior to 2020, I never liked salmon. In fact, I have never been a huge seafood fan in general.

My wife introduced me to sushi back in 2004 (Southern California has amazing sushi options.) It quickly became my staple seafood choice.  Sure, I would partake in the occasional shrimp appetizer, crab dip, or Long John Silver Fish and Chips, but if you were to tell 2019 me that in February 2022 I would not only take part in, but come up with the idea of a month long challenge, requiring you to eat nothing but seafood, I would have laughed at you like a stand-up performing at the Comedy Store.

But last month, it’s where I found myself.

First, let’s go back. 

My relationship with food has always been a unique one. In my early years, food was not something I looked at as an experience, but a utilitarian function of daily life.  My wife recalls the first time she came to my apartment when we started dating. Unimpressed by the artistic sculptures of Pizza Hut boxes in the corner. It’s a wonder she’s stuck around…

As I grew in my career and life, I expanded my horizons and appreciated food for different reasons. Learning to respect the chef as an artist, painting pictures on your palate, fighting the low-cost ingredients forced upon them by the GMs and Owners.

I’ve had life-changing steak in Texas… Mind blowing burritos in Los Angeles… Handcrafted burgers in Las Vegas… And oh, the Face melting pizza in New York City!!         

barbeque meal
Before joining Kurian Enterprises, usual meals for the Hamilton family
often revolved around red meat and other delicious eats from all over the country.

 

Notice what all of those things have in common? ZERO FISH.

I then came to work for Steve and Jenn Kurian in 2020. Part of the perks of working here is the employee discount you receive at the Bloomsburg Wild for Salmon store and I’m NEVER one to not take part in a discount.

It’s at this point in time that my relationship with seafood takes an expected turn.

I figured I needed to at least give the staple product (Sockeye Salmon) a try.  Frightened like it was my first day of Kindergarten all over again, I left the preparation of the staple product to my wife, and her fearlessness at the stove. I could not fathom what my taste buds had experienced that day.


sockeye salmon with rub with love seasoning ready for the oven
Sockeye Salmon from Bristol Bay, AK and caught by Kurian Fisheries for Pride of Bristol Bay & Wild For Salmon.  A deep, natural red color and unbeatable taste that dons a bold flavor, without the fishy taste.

 

This in NO WAY resembled the awful salmon I had previously encountered in the 35 years leading up to that moment.  The bold flavor, flakey texture, and oh, the EASE of preparation (later proven because I can now cook an entire filet without the help of others.)

Most noticeably though… NO “FISHY TASTE.”  I would come to learn (from Steve) that what people commonly refer to when describing this distaste for the salmon profile is of the farm raised variety, not the fish itself.  Just like that, I was 100% bought in. (Insert Mic Drop or Boom Sound, whichever you prefer).  So much so, I attempted to sabotage my new found love for sockeye by pitching to our team that we all participate in a month long challenge where we consume NOTHING but seafood.

“What an innovative concept”, I told myself! “Downright Brilliant in fact”, said me.

Everyone else thought it was crazy and shot it down faster than a snow goose on the Eastern Maryland shore in January.

So, to bring sanity to the asylum, we constructed three degrees of commitment:   2-3 Times per week, 5-7 Times per week, and the psychotic 100% Seafood protein for every meal.  I was the only one to commit to the latter. Yes, me, the aforementioned individual who previously sustained himself, on a diet of red meat and slow carbs.

Then Steve, in his true nature, upped the ante by stipulating that all the seafood had to be wildly caught.  At this point in the meeting, two things came to my mind:

1. Long John Silver was no longer a viable option.

2. Thank God for my employee discount.

Off to the races we went! Surely this challenge would cause me to revert to my old ways of red meat and fowl. 

However, the results were quite fascinating.  I lost 7lbs in the month, even without altering my carb consumption (a secondary challenge I gave myself, which I quickly abandoned in week 1).  I noticed that my sodium/water retention (that normally is akin to a Duncan Yo-Yo), was consistently low all month.  The Sockeye Salmon, in particular, gave me energy that I can only liken to a 5 hour energy shot with a Red Bull Chaser.  And finally, the challenge stretched my culinary skills/creativity (previously none) beyond what my kitchen and I were comfortable with.

collage of salmon at various stages of air fried street taco recipe
Dustin testing out his Air Fried Sockeye Salmon Street Taco recipe for the month-long seafood challenge, Fishing in February.

Most shocking of all, after 28 days, not once did I tire of eating seafood.  I chalk this up to the fact that the taste profiles of wild seafood is so vast, it’s hard not to find something to provide variety to your week.

The month of February truly was a life-changing experience for me. It provided me with the confidence and results to move forward in a more consistent way with seafood in my life.  I’ll now stop drafting a break-up text message (followed by a cordial ghosting), to Salmon.

February not only made me a seafood convert, but an evangelist.  Oh, and on March 1st, I had salmon for dinner.

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