Salmon and salmon

I'm thinking of roasting some salmon for a dinner next week. For fewer guests, I'd use wild Alaskan/Pacific (e.g., King) but for 6 people...well, ka-ching! The local fish shop also has salmon from Ireland, labelled as organic/sustainably farmed. More costly than Atlantic farmed (which I don't want to use), but significantly less than King. So, question: has anyone had this Irish salmon? Understanding wild Alaskan would be better, but is this one still tasty?



bigpan June 6, 2013
I guess I am lucky to be on the west coast and have sockeye and dungeness crab right off the boat. I hear you about the cost though. I have often bought atlantic farmed from Costco and it is a good second choice - cost wise and flavor.
Put a sauce with it. Local natives here do salmon with blueberries - it goes nice with a light merlot (yes, a red).
I also like to bake it with a tapanade coating with chopped sun dried tomatoes (stole that recipe from the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club), or even with a pesto coating and a sharp pinot gris.

You could also make your own candied salmon to serve as a canape'. Just slather it with some honey/maple syrup (lightly) and put in a slow oven.
healthierkitchen June 6, 2013
Just something I came across today in case anyone is still interested:
healthierkitchen May 29, 2013
Tashipluto - what did you learn in Iceland and from your fishmonger about the sustainable practices? I can never get a straight answer from people at WF.
Tashipluto May 29, 2013
The most commonly cited factor was that the farms are very far out to sea in remote waters between Ireland and Iceland. Because they're in deep waters with heavy currents there is constant flushing and cleansing. The pens have far fewer fish than conventional fish farms --I heard everything from 50% fewer to 85% fewer. They are not given antibiotics and the food is GMO free, and from fish fit for human consumption. Fishing for wild salmon is extremely restricted in both Ireland and Iceland, which has apparently led to their efforts at sustainability. Note, the above is what I was told, but I am definitely not an expert!
Tashipluto May 29, 2013
The most commonly cited factor was that the farms are very far out to sea in remote waters between Ireland and Iceland. Because they're in deep waters with heavy currents there is constant flushing and cleansing. The pens have far fewer fish than conventional fish farms --I heard everything from 50% fewer to 85% fewer. They are not given antibiotics and the food is GMO free, and from fish fit for human consumption. Fishing for wild salmon is extremely restricted in both Ireland and Iceland, which has apparently led to their efforts at sustainability. Note, the above is what I was told, but I am definitely not an expert!
amysarah May 29, 2013
Thanks so much Tashipluto! My fish guy rec'd it (as I didn't want the more common farmed salmon,) but lots of people were waiting, so I couldn't press for many details. This is really helpful and interesting. I actually decided to make something else for tomorrow's dinner party, but will try this soon.
Tashipluto May 29, 2013
So, I had the exact same issue a couple of weeks ago -- dinner party, wild salmon too expensive, I NEVER buy farmed. My fishmonger convinced me to try the organic sustainably farmed Irish salmon and it was delicious. He gave me a whole spiel about what "organic sustainably farmed" meant, and having just returned from Iceland where I heard the same thing about their salmon, I believed him, um, hook, line, and sinker. (sorry)
amysarah May 27, 2013
Chris, thanks. Maybe I'm just in a mood today. Lots of good info in this thread. (I was serious about this topic becoming a useful feature article!) Just sometimes a tone emerges in Hotline that I find a bit off putting. I know tone doesn't always come across as intended online, so I generally just ignore it (generous info might 'sound' condescending; a question about, e.g., spag & meatballs might incite a reply about how no real Italian would ever eat such a thing...probably intended as funny but 'sounds' patronizing, etc.) Anyway....back to our regularly scheduled salmon discussion, sorry for the detour!

pierino - quirky Russ & Daughters-related factoid: when I was a kid, Zero Mostel did some work for my father - his contract stipulated precise on-set catering from R&D...ONLY. One bite and he'd know if it came from anywhere else, and all work would cease until the insult was corrected - as a harried assistant learned the hard way.
pierino May 27, 2013
amysarah, no visit to NYC is complete without a visit to Russ & Daughters (and Katz's Deli). I usually stay at the GEM Soho on E. Houston just east of Bowery. Jonah Schimmel's is immediately next door. Russ & Daughters is a block or so further east. And then keep going and you get to Katz's.
amysarah May 27, 2013
Wow, lots of replies! To clarify - I DO understand the problems with salmon farming - which is why I haven't bought it in several years. (Also aware that Pacific and Atlantic are different things.)

My question wasn't based on ignorance of that issue; I simply had seen this Irish organic salmon - which I was told was farmed in a sustainable way, unlike the Atlantic farmed salmon I usually see at fish counters. Was curious about that specific one - veracity, taste, etc. That's all. (Not sure how this translated into needing to be schooled on the entire subject. Wow.)

Regardless, farmed seafood and sustainability would be a good subject for a feature here perhaps...
Greenstuff May 27, 2013
amysarah, I do hope that you haven't been treating this whole discussion as anyone thinking your "needing to be schooled on the entire subject." Personally, I'm hoping that you've already had a lovely dinner party with friends. But meanwhile, there's a general interest in the topic, and we're all glad you brought it to the table.
Nancy H. May 27, 2013
And my apologies for the length of my reply but it's a VERY complicated subject!
Nancy H. May 27, 2013
First off, there's no such thing as wild Atlantic salmon except what has been illegally harvested. Anything labeled "wild Atlantic" is a mistake--or the purveyor is breaking a law that is intended to protect severely depleted stocks. (Stocks are depleted for a variety of reasons going back over a couple of centuries and aren't necessarily the consequence of over-fishing.) The only Atlantic salmon available is the product of farms, whether in Ireland, Canada, Scotland, Norway, or Chile--the principal places where Atlantic salmon is raised.
Secondly, you must understand that Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a very different fish from Pacific salmon (Oncorhyncus--hope I've spelled that correctly) and it has nothing to do with farming or not. Atlantic salmon are by nature a fattier fish (good Omega-3 fats) and those of us who grew up on it prefer it to the leaner, dryer texture of Pacific salmon, delicious as it may be. The organic Irish salmon you saw is a very good choice, in my experience. Another good choice, mentioned here, is Loch Duart, a Scottish salmon. In both cases, these fish are raised in as sustainable a manner as possible--probably far more sustainably than the chicken most of us buy. There are three questions constantly raised about farmed salmon:
1) It is fed antibiotics; most fish are not fed antibiotics because their disease threats are viruses and antibiotics won't work; in any case, the huge (and I mean HUGE!!!) percentage of antibiotics used in the U.S. are to promote growth in livestock, so if you're against antibiotics, you should give up all meat but what is certifiably safe;
2) The feed--what is referred to as the fish in/fish out ratio, or it takes more than a pound of fish to create a pound of salmon. This is indeed a problem that conscientious salmon farmers are working hard to correct. From a ratio of 4 : 1 they are now down closer to 1 : 1 (not all, but the best are). I expect we will see it below 1 : 1 in the years ahead.
3) Salmon cages pollute the bays and inlets in which they are sited. Pollution is an alarming word, but fish poop in the water often creates a biologically rich area beneath the cages, as many fishermen of other species have told me. Furthermore, there are all kinds of controls over "pollution" from the fish food itself--obviously it's not in the interest of farmers to lose a lot of feed into the water.
I count myself a strong environmentalist and I think fish farming, when done correctly, is the only way we have to preserve the ocean's bounty--while continuing to eat healthful, delicious fish. And that most definitely includes Atlantic salmon.
ATG117 May 26, 2013
Thanks for the smoked salmon tip, peirino. I'm going to look into it.
amysarah May 27, 2013
ATG117, if you're near NYC, I've seen wild smoked salmon at Russ & Daughters (Lower East Side.) They may sell online too (?)
SKK May 26, 2013
I love your question and am dizzy from all the responses. I live in Seattle, and we are blessed with seafood and working to support sustainable fishing. If great salmon is out of your budget, consider another sustainable seafood. Scotland, along with other countries, is fighting farm raised salmon. That being said, another possibility is to price direct shipped fish. This is my go to fish monger in Seattle. The fish monger makes all the difference. I trust these guys for shipping And fyi for all of us, Alaska Copper River Salmon is now in Seattle.
Greenstuff May 25, 2013
No really, thanks, Pegeen. I do know a few things, and I also know that there are other FOOD52ers who know something about fish and shellfish health benefits, sustainability, and contaminant issues. Great idea for some or all of us. (And no, the intrigues of semi-anonymous boards, but I'm not in charge of anything!)
Pegeen May 25, 2013
Sorry, I'm sure that seemed presumptuous. You just seem to understand a lot. For all I know, you're the person in D.C. in charge of fishery. I will bow out, now.
Greenstuff May 25, 2013
Thanks, Pegeen, I'll give that one some thought!
Pegeen May 25, 2013
Chris, why don't you propose writing a feature for Food52 on this subject? You seem to have the appropriate background.
ATG117 May 25, 2013
Here's where I find things get even more complicated: smoked salmon. I haven't been able to find it made from wild salmon, and I have a weakness for it at times.
pierino May 25, 2013
ATG, I feel your pain. But I just opened a package of smoked Alaskan wild sockeye this morning. This is the Echo Falls brand and I bought it at Albertsons. Good luck!
healthierkitchen May 25, 2013
It is so complicated. The husband of a good friend consulted for a time with the company that makes the genetically modified "Frankenfish". He is an avid outdoorsman, hiker, nature lover, from Utah who was concerned about overfishing. He took a lot of flak for this position in our liberal circle in DC. If the FDA hadn't taken the position that it shouldn't be labeled differently than wild salmon, I don't think there'd be as much outcry. I would not want to unknowingly buy this fish thinking I had wild salmon, yet, I can't say that I would never buy it if I knew what I was getting and thought the process was safe and healthy to us and to the wild salmon population. Really good, wild salmon or halibut is close to $25/pound near me. How many people can afford that regularly?
Greenstuff May 24, 2013
Tough one. If it's the species you care about, then you should know that farmed Irish salmon is Atlantic salmon.

If it's the quality of the product and its impact on the world, well, people disagree. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program continues to suggest that we avoid all farmed salmon. Many Europeans (and even some Berkeley, California fishmongers) disagree. I wish people ate more seafood, so it pains me that the choices are so complicated. Perhaps the editors of FOOD52 would think about publishing a salmon primer to lay out the issues and try to make the choices more straightforward.

Loch Duart, by the way, is Scottish, not Irish. Among the reputable fish merchants I can walk to, some are pro and some are con.
healthierkitchen May 24, 2013
For six people, I would try the farmed Scottish amysarah. What I've had before that is amazing is Copper River King salmon, but in past years I thought it was in season around now, or maybe a little later. Definitely a treat for two!
healthierkitchen May 24, 2013
the char I see at my WF is also farmed. Pierino, do you know anything about char farming practices? I have heard very good things about a particular shrimp farming operation on the Eastern Shore of MD, but don't know much else.
pierino May 25, 2013
Healthierkitchen, arctic char is considered a "best choice" by Seafood Watch, mostly because it is farmed in "recirculating systems" and there is little chance of contaminating the habitat. Yes, most is farm raised. The flavor is somewhere between salmon and trout.
Even though salmon at the market has to be labeled "color added" you easily distinguish wild salmon from farm raised just by looking at it. Natural salmon has a much richer color. You would have to be color blind not to be able to tell them apart.
amysarah May 24, 2013
Yes, thx. Pretty familiar with issues of farmed salmon - really just curious about this specific type as it's new to me. Copper River is indeed delicious, but the dinner is next week; also around here, just as costly (if not more) than King salmon. Char is ok, but doesn't do much for me.
pierino May 24, 2013
When the Copper River salmon run turns up (late summer) try that. One thing to know about farmed salmon (and I don't care where it comes from) is that it is not a natural product. Salmon aren't vegetarians so they have to be fed stuff that makes their flesh look pink otherwise it would like a piece of sole or trout on your plate. You might think about substituting char.
There are some great examples of successful, delicious aquaculture (usually fresh water) but salmon isn't one of them.
Rachel S. May 24, 2013
Is this salmon labeled "Loch Duart?" If so, I agree with the comments about it being slightly fattier (but not too fatty) and very rich tasting; even though I generally prefer wild salmon, I find the Loch Duart at times to be more flavorful, probably due to the higher fat content. The higher fat also gives you more insurance against overcooking, which is nice to have when cooking for a crowd!
amysarah May 24, 2013
Hmm. Didn't notice that label, but maybe - will ask. Interesting....
amysarah May 24, 2013
Thanks for the info about taste...I know it won't be in the league of wild, but for 6, that would mean ~ $90, just for the fish. (Love King salmon, but for me it's in the category of special dinner, for 2!) I do trust this fish guy - but, I guess he's only as good as the info he's given on the sources!
healthierkitchen May 24, 2013
they carry this at my local WF and Balducci's and I have tried it. I too prefer wild, but sometimes the price is prohibitive. The taste is good - maybe a bit fattier than sockeye and Coho. To me, though, there is no comparison to King in season. That is something apart and the price reflects it. This is fine for an everyday dinner and much more affordable. I always wish I had more info, though, on the sustainability practices of these fisheries. I guess you have to trust your fish guy on that? We fish eaters will all have to consider farmed fish at some point as the planet probably can't sustain us with wild. The practices of the fisheries are crucial.
amysarah May 24, 2013
Thanks. I've had wild Irish salmon (in England) and it was indeed delicious.

But this is sustainably farmed Irish salmon. Typically I try to avoid farmed, but Mr. Fish Guy claims this is good, and farmed responsibly...maybe I should buy a small piece to cook up and taste test!
rt21 May 24, 2013
I grew up on Irish salmon I don't you will be disappointed with it!!
cratecooking May 24, 2013
I've not had Irish salmon, but I've many times bought delicious wild salmon from Scotland. As long as it's wild (as opposed to farmed) and fresh, I would think that it would be a fantastic substitute!
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