Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Wild about Salmon

Top: Farmed Salmon Tail (left) Wild (right)

Below: Wild (top) Farmed (below)

Shock News – Fish have seasons unbeknown to supermarkets and sticking to these will always yield a tastier meal. There are certain times of the year when a real treat is in season at the moment it is the Grilse. Grilse is the name given to a wild salmon that has spent only one year at sea compared to its larger siblings that return after 3 or 4 years. The larger fish are the highly important brood stock that sustain stock levels and are listed as threatened by the Marine Conservation Society. For this reason I made a personal decision this year not to sell the larger fish through our shop.

Wild Fillet (above) Farmed Fillet (below)

So why is wild Atlantic salmon (not to be confused with the fillets of wild Alaskan salmon (travelled 3000 km) seen in super markets) better than good quality Scottish farmed salmon? I am I great fan of Scottish farmed salmon and eat it a couple of times a week, however, the wild is an altogether different product. Due to the life style of the farmed salmon it yields a much higher fat content in the flesh of the stomach compared to its very active wild brother. This is excellent for sashimi, but can be a little to much if baked or roasted. Be aware different qualities of farmed salmon will yield different levels of fat.

So how can tell if you are being sold farmed or wild salmon? The wild fish will have visible higher quality fins and rarely have a bumped or damaged nose. There should also be some net marks on the body. You may in a number of cases see fish lice on the wild fish. This is treated on the farmed variety. As mentioned the fat content will be a lot lower, but don’t be confused by the flesh colour argument as fish farms are able to produce what ever colour flesh they have preference for. A wild salmon does naturally have dark pink flesh. Farmed salmon will always come pre-gutted and finally the wild salmon will probably be anything for 3 to 6 times the price of farmed which is a difference, but defiantly worth trying when in season and does coincide with the samphire season.

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