Ask any great chef: great food begins with great ingredients. But how can you tell if the salmon you’re buying is as fresh or as good at it gets? Once you know how, it is surprisingly easy. Let’s start with the ‘whole HOG’, because everything else is just a portion thereof.
Whole Salmon Hog (head on & gutted)
7 things to look for when you buy a whole salmon
- The fish’s eyes should be clear and shiny, not cloudy and dry.
- The interior gills should be bright red, not pink or brownish gray-signs of age or
- improper storage & handling.
- The fish should smell like the ocean, not fishy. An unusual smell is a sign of age
- or improper storage and handling.
- The flesh should be firm, succulent and resilient, able to recover it’s shape when
- pressed. If it’s soft it’s probably old.
- Unbruised flesh: dark red or brownish spots indicate bruising from mishandling.
- Light silvery coloured skin indicates the salmon was harvested when young and in its prime. Darker, more colourful skin indicates an older, leaner, less tasty salmon.
- Huon leaves the gills in, so you can check the quality upon delivery.
|Huon quality||Poor quality||Huon leaves gills on so you’re assured of quality.|
Raw fish portions
Your local fishmonger, seafood or deli manager makes it easier to enjoy salmon by cutting the whole salmon they buy in bulk into smaller individually sized portions.
The highest quality salmon is known as sashimi grade, ideal for those who love to eat their salmon raw. Whether you plan to eat salmon raw, smoked, curedor cooked; starting with the highest quality ensures the greatest satisfaction.
Moist and firm with a deep rich colour, fresh Huon quality salmon portions hold their succulent shape. Unlike lesser quality salmon, they show no signs of aging, mishandling or defrosting. They are the best you can serve.
Due to age or poor harvesting and handling practices, lesser quality salmon portions are typically paler, softer or just simply less appetizing to look at.
7 things to look for when buying salmon portions
|Huon quality: Minimal gaping
Because Huon salmon Fillets are humanely stunned, pre-rigour filleted, and chilled but not frozen, the flesh holds firm. Gaps in the “zig-zag” muscle blocks rarely appear, creating a quality presentation in any dish.
|Huon quality: Look & feel
The portions should look moist and firm with a strong consistent colour. The flesh is fresh, succulent and resilient, able to recovermit’s shape when pressed. Unbruised: no dark red or brownish spots on the flesh to indicate bruising from mishandling.
Cold Smoked Slices
One of the most popular and convenient ways to enjoy salmon is in cold smoked slices, a traditional way of flavouring salmon used by both native American Indians and Europeans alike for centuries.
Salmon fillets are first naturally cured – not cooked – using a combination of salt, sugar or herbs to preserve the meat and stop it from spoiling.
When rubbed or laid across the sliced salmon, the curing ingredients gradually draw out the fluid and embed themselves within.
Once cured, the salmon is smoked to add flavour without harming the salmon’s delicate texture and natural microbes within.
For the finest flavour, low smouldering fires are best, and those made from aromatic hardwoods are the sweetest.
The cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin within the smouldering wood are caramelized, creating a sweet, flowery, and often fruity aromatic smoke that is then chanelled to a nearby smokehouse.
Over time and at room temperature, the salmon within become infused with antioxidants and packed with unique flavour.
It can be difficult to tell when in their supermarket packaging, but once opened and served, the differences between poor and good cold smoked salmon slices are striking.
Although difficult to detect texture when packaged, the strong consistent colour of Huon’s quality salmon is often apparent even on the supermarket shelf. Once outside of the packet or served, Huon quality shines. The colour is consistent not patchy.
The texture is firm and doesn’t fall apart when handled. It’s moist; not too oily, nor too salty. It feels meaty in the mouth not mushy. And the taste? Delicate natural taste and succulent, no bitter aftertaste. ‘A slice of heaven, here on earth’.
Patchy, mushy, oily and difficult to handle, poor smoked salmon typically won’t hold its shape and creates a poor impression for those who serve it.
6 things to look for when buying cold smoked salmon