Salmon

A Complete Guide

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Typically, a salmon is born in fresh waters before undertaking an incredible journey to the sea and back again to the exact same location where the migration first began. Not all salmon migrate to the sea, in Sweden and Norway the salmon inhabit the freshwater lakes during winter before swimming upstream to spawn and, like other sea going species returns to the lakes to feed.


Salmon Fillets

During their time in freshwater, salmon take in little nourishment resulting in poorer, drier flesh and need the foods of the sea (usually the post- larvae of herrings) where they mature sexually over a period of two to five years. As with many other species, salmon is now intensively farmed ensuring year-round availability. For the purists the wild salmon are in season from March to June and September to October.

King of the salmon family is the Atlantic variety, from that comes the Pacific and Alaskan salmon whose varieties include the King, Sockeye, Pink, Coho, Chum and Keta. Other names include royal, red and silver.

Salmon are incredibly versatile to cook with; they can be grilled, poached, steamed, baked, pan-fried, salt-cured, hot or cold smoked. Smoked Scottish salmon is a fine thing indeed; little should be done with it for fear of masking the taste. I nearly always serve smoked salmon with its classic garnish of fresh lemon, finely chopped shallots, capers and cornichons. When cooking salmon try to avoid overcooking it, salmon is much better for being cooked rare to medium to retain its moisture. It stands up well to bold flavours and strong herbs so a little experimentation is unlikely to result in disaster.

Recipes

Content and picture Miles Collins

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