Ask the Ancients: Salmon is Good Food

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

A team of archeologists working at a remote dig site in Alaska has confirmed that indigenous people who inhabited the area at the end of the last Ice Age were catching, cooking and eating one of nature’s most delicious foods—salmon.

In a paper published in the September 21, 2015 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said the remains of a cooking hearth at the Upward Sun River archaeological site in central Alaska contained salmon remnants that are 11,500 years old. They say that the bones are the earliest confirmed evidence of salmon consumption found in North America. Remains found at the site suggests the native people also ate hares and ground squirrels.

We don’t know about squirrels, but we love salmon and are glad to know early residents of Alaska had the skill and good sense to eat it. Salmon is a consistent presence on lists of the foods you should have in your diet because, like other fatty fish, it’s high in heart-healthy omega-3 oils. But it’s also a good source of lean protein, phosphorus, vitamin B6, choline, pantothenic acid, biotin, and potassium.

Is that combination what makes it so delicious? Perhaps. All we know is that we love salmon and eat it a couple of times a week. We particularly like sliced smoked salmon alongside scrambled eggs as a healthier alternative to bacon. And our favorite way to prepare salmon? Roasting, because we love the crust that forms. Here’s a super simple recipe we learned from a chef friend:

  1. Preheat your oven as hot as it will go—ours reaches 550 degrees.
  2. Place a piece of salmon filet—the thicker the better, and wild salmon if you can find it—in a roasting pan you’ve sprayed lightly with cooking oil.
  3. Coat the salmon with coarse black pepper and black sesame seeds.
  4. Cook for 15-20 minutes depending on your preference.
  5. Remove immediately from the pan and place on serving dish.

No need to worry about archeologists: there won’t be anything left for them to discover.