Everything you need to know about Salmon.

A tasty source of the essential Omega 3 fatty acids

Scottish Quality Salmon is a delicious and highly nutritious food containing protein, vitamin A, a range of B vitamins as well as the minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc – all of which are vital ingredients for a healthy balanced diet.

Scottish Quality Salmon is also one of the major sources of the essential Omega-3 fatty acids. Scientific evidence has shown that an increase in consumption of such oil-rich fish as salmon can help to

  • ensure a healthy pregnancy for mother and child
  • maintain a healthy heart by reducing the chances of developing coronary heart disease
  • reduce high blood pressure, inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, autoimmune disease as well as improve kidney function in some people
  • maintain healthy skin and especially can help to improve psoriasis

2. Happy healthy babies

Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential to ensure healthy growth and development in unborn and newly born babies and toddlers – in particular for optimum brain and vision development. So if you are pregnant or if you are breast feeding you should include oil-rich fish such as salmon as part of your diet – in short, Grandmother’s tale that fish is good for the brain has gained scientific backing!

3. How much Omega 3 fatty acids should we consume?

The British Nutrition Foundation recommends we consume about 2.85g per day of Omega 3 fatty acids; however, since the 1940s fish consumption in the UK – especially the consumption of oil-rich fish – has been falling and now actual average intakes of Omega 3 fatty acids are only about 1.8g per day in the UK.

So, the UK Government as well as nutritionists recommend we increase our consumption of oil-rich fish; and the Food Standards Agency’s current advice is that we should eat two portions of fish a week, one of which is oil-rich fish, in order to maintain a healthy balanced diet.

4. Great for the family and easy to cook

Salmon is an ideal healthy food for both children and adults alike. It’s really versatile too, so there’s no need to prepare separate meals for your family – look for boneless cuts for a child-friendly option. Baked, poached, grilled, steamed, fried, microwaved or barbecued there’s an almost never-ending variety of ways to cook salmon.

5. Buying

Scottish Quality Salmon is readily available from fishmongers and supermarkets nationwide; but whether you’re after fresh or smoked salmon, make sure it bears the Tartan Quality Mark. When you see salmon bearing the Tartan Quality Mark you can be confident you’re buying salmon from the cool, clear waters of Scotland. It’s the mark that tells you it’s fresh from the loch. You’ll find the Tartan Quality Mark as a label on repacked salmon portions or as a gill tag on whole salmon

To ensure you’re buying the freshest whole salmon every time make sure:

  • the salmon is silvery in colour, with bright eyes
  • the gills are pale pink
  • there little or no smell
  • the flesh is cold and firm

…and to ensure you are buying the freshest smoked salmon every time make sure:

  • it’s well within the sell-by date
  • the flesh is orangey-red in colour
  • it has a moist appearance
  • the packaging is hygienic and sealed

Below are some helpful weights to guide you when you’re buying raw, unprepared salmon for cooking as a main course:

  • 275-300g (9-10oz) per person
  • 1.8kg (4lb) for 6 people
  • 2.3kg (5lb) for 8
  • 4kg (9lb) for 16 people

Once prepared and cooked, 50g (2oz) per person is sufficient if you’re serving salmon as a starter and 125-175g (4-6oz) will feed each person as a main course dish. Don’t forget that if a recipe requires flaked salmon a 175g (6oz) cooked salmon steak will produce about 100g (3oz) of fish once you’ve discarded skin and bones; and if you need chopped or strips of smoked salmon look out for smoked salmon pieces

6. Preparing

Filleting

  1. Remove any scales by running a sharp knife diagonally along the skin
  2. Remove the head by cutting behind the gills and the fin at the front
  3. Cut the salmon along the belly and carefully remove the innards. Rinse in cold water
  4. To fillet, make an incision near the shoulder, cut towards the tail, keeping close to the bones. Then repeat the process on the other side, removing any small bones

Skinning

For a raw salmon…

  1. Remove the tail
  2. Firmly hold the salmon at the tail end and slide the knife under the skin towards the shoulder. (Put a little salt on the skin at the tail end to give you a better grip.)

…and to skin a cooked salmon…

  1. Allow the salmon to cool in its juices for at least several hours or ideally overnight
  2. Carefully lift it out onto a plate or serving dish and gently peel off the skin with a palette knife. If you wish, remove the brown creamy curd from the backbone and along the sides of the fish in the same manner

7. Dressing a salmon

Try to avoid garnishing a cooked salmon more than two to three hours before serving and remember to refrigerate it until it’s ready to be served.

The classic dressing for cooked salmon is aspic, finely sliced cucumber, lemon and herbs – such as dill and fennel. Aspic jelly is easy to find in the shops and is great for keeping fine slices of cucumber or lemon in place. Or you could use 300ml (half a pint) of thick cold mayonnaise to pipe rosettes over the fish. (Do this as near to the serving time as possible.) Place peeled prawns into the mayonnaise rosettes and garnish with sliced lemon and cucumber or salad leaves, fresh watercress or sprigs of dill.

8. Cooking

Quick tips

  • Before cooking a whole salmon, wash it under cold running water to remove any stray scales or bones. Pat it dry, both inside and out, with kitchen paper
  • Never wash salmon portions as you’ll lose all the juices. Instead, pat the salmon all over with a piece of damp kitchen paper
  • Bake salmon in foil in its own juices to preserve its flavour and goodness
  • To keep salmon portions moist during grilling opt for thicker cuts as thin ones will dry out quicker. Spread a little melted butter onto the pieces about 20 minutes before you grill them. Two minutes before you grill them sprinkle over some salt to draw out the natural juices
  • Before cutting cooked salmon into slices or strips, refrigerate it for several hours or freeze it for a short time. This will help the cut flesh to hold its shape

Poaching

  1. Wash a gutted salmon and place it in a fish kettle or a large casserole dish. (If you don’t have a fish kettle, you’ll find many fishmongers and supermarkets will rent you one).
  2. Add a medium quartered onion, a sliced carrot, two bay leaves, 8-12 black peppercorns, half a pint of white wine vinegar, a sliced lemon, 1 tbsp of parsley and enough water to cover the salmon
  3. Cover and bring the mixture to the boil on a medium/low heat
  4. When the mixture is about to boil, turn the heat down and let the fish simmer for one minute per lb/450g
  5. Turn off the heat and if you are serving the fish hot, let it sit in the water for 30 minutes, otherwise leave it to cool

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3 or 160°C/350°F
  2. Place a clean, prepared salmon on a large sheet of oiled kitchen foil
  3. Add sprigs of parsley and slices of lemon along the belly and dot the fish with butter
  4. Wrap the foil around the salmon and loosely seal the parcel. Bake for approximately eight minutes per lb/450
  5. To check if the salmon is cooked, put a knife into the thickest part – the flesh should flake easily away from the bone. If it doesn’t, reseal the parcel and bake for a further ten minutes
  6. Leave the salmon in the parcel to rest for 5 minutes. Lift it carefully from the foil and remove the skin before serving

Marinating

A marinade adds a little extra flavour to your salmon fillets and steaks and is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prepare salmon. All you need is some forward planning…Select your own marinade (eg. dill, lemon juice or soy sauce) and pour it over your salmon. Store it overnight in the fridge before pan frying.

Pan Frying

Pan frying is an easy and effective way of cooking salmon steaks and fillets. Marinate the salmon or season with freshly milled salt and pepper. Then fry in 1tbsp/15mls sunflower oil for six to eight minutes, turning once. As steaks are slightly thicker cuts than fillets they will need a couple of extra minutes.

Barbecuing

Salmon is perfect for outdoor eating and cooks well on a barbecue…

  1. Brush a little oil or butter on the surface of your salmon before cooking
  2. Loosely wrap whole fish or cuts in heavyweight aluminium foil to make them easier to handle
  3. A general rule for a salmon cut is to allow two to three minutes each side.
  4. When skewering chunks of salmon for kebabs, leave the skin intact to help hold the flesh together during cooking
  5. Apply basting sauces during the final few minutes of cooking. Applied too early this can burn and blacken the salmon
  6. To test if the salmon is cooked, gently prod it with a fork. It’s ready when it flakes easily

Microwaving

This is a fast and effective way to poach smaller cuts of salmon but the cooking time will be determined by the thickness and quantity of the fish – the more cuts you cook, the longer it will take…

  1. In general one 225g/ half lb salmon steak will take two to three minutes to cook on full power. Two will take three to four minutes
  2. Arrange steaks in a dish with the thickest parts at the edges
  3. Steam salmon portions in the microwave by placing them in the centre of lightly moistened kitchen paper. Bring all the corners to the centre and twist closed before placing them on a microwave-safe plate
  4. Remove the salmon when slightly underdone and pink in the middle. Then leave it to stand for 3-5 minutes, as it will continue cooking

9. Storing

Salmon is best when it’s fresh but it freezes well whether raw or cooked. Make sure your salmon is gutted and properly cleaned before freezing it – your fishmonger or supermarket will easily do this for you. Then wrap the salmon in plasticiser-free cling film, place it in a polythene bag and freeze. Avoid freezing it for longer than three months as it will lose its flavour

10. Defrosting your salmon

  • In the fridge allow 18-36 hours, depending on the size of the fish
  • At room temperature (a faster option) allow 3-4 hours per pound
  • In the microwave (best for salmon portions) – put the frozen steak or fillet into a dish, cover and cook on medium power, turning once, for 2 minutes. Leave to stand for a further 2 minutes before checking to ensure that the salmon is completely defrosted

Smoked salmon is also best when it’s fresh – look for the sell-by date to be sure. Make sure you always keep smoked salmon in the fridge and once you’ve opened the pack consume it within two days in order to enjoy the very best flavour. However, it can be frozen for up to three months. Once smoked salmon has been defrosted don’t re-freeze it.

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