The supremacy of the salmon, a member of the salmonidae family, over other edible fish, is almost universally acknowledged. Salmon is found only in the northern hemisphere and rarely south of latitude 40°N., inhabiting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and certain land-locked lakes in northern Europe and Canada.
Salmon is anadromous – i.e. the adult fish migrates from the sea to fresh water in order to spawn. The young salmon begins its life in fresh water but swims out to sea in search of richer feeding grounds when it is about two years old. When the salmon has put on sufficient flesh to reach a minimum weight of 2 to 6 pounds, it returns to the river of its birth. At this stage it is called GRILSE and is often confused with the SALMON TROUT, both of which resemble the mature salmon in appearance but are considerably slighter in build. When salmon first return from the sea they are at their prime but once they reenter fresh water they cease to cat and it is at this point, therefore, that they should be caught. By the time they have spawned and begun the return journey to the sea, they are extremely emaciated and frequently die before reaching the sea.
A few varieties of salmon can survive in fresh water permanently but they are generally considered to be inferior in flavour.
The two main species of salmon are salmo salar, found only in the Atlantic, and the oncorhynchs, found in the Pacific
The flesh of salmon varies in colour from rose pink to deep red and the weight from 3 pounds to 20 pounds, although salmon weighing up to 100 pounds have been recorded.
Salmon may be preserved by drying, SMOKING, canning or FREEZING. Smoked salmon is traditionally eaten thinly sliced as an hors d’ocuvre, and served with wedges of lemon and buttered brown bread, or in sandwiches or on canapes. Canned salmon, while bearing little resemblance to fresh salmon, has a delicious flavour of its own, and makes an A superb fish, Salmon makes a memorable meal either simply cooked or served with elaborate garnishes. excellent substitute for fresh salmon in such dishes as MOUSSE DE SAUMON and SALMON LOAF I and II. Frozen salmon, although slightly inferior in texture to fresh salmon, is especially useful when fresh salmon is out of season.
As well as having an excellent taste and texture, salmon is also very nutritious. It contains calcium, iron, protein, vitamins A and D and small quantities of every other vitamin with the exception of vitamin C. Canned salmon is richer in calcium than fresh salmon because the bones are softened during the canning process and are easily eaten.
Salmon may be cooked either whole or cut into steaks. The fish is usually prepared by the fishmonger. The scales are removed and the fish is slit open so that the entrails may be removed. It should then be washed. If you are preparing the fish yourself be careful not to soak the fish as this affects the flavour.
Salmon may be cooked by poaching, boiling, baking, grilling and sauteing. Whole salmon should be poached or boiled in COURT BOUILLON in a fish kettle. When cooking salmon, vinegar should be omitted from the court bouillon as it removes some of its colour. To poach salmon, bring the court bouillon to the boil (there should be enough to cover the salmon completely), lower the salmon gently into the kettle on the perforated rack, reduce the heat to very low and simmer the salmon until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Cooking times for poaching whole salmon are 10 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes for a fish weighing up to 8 pounds, 5 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes for the next 6 pounds and 3 minutes per pound plus 3 minutes for every pound over that weight.
To boil a whole salmon, bring the court bouillon to the boil (there should be enough to cover the salmon completely), lower the salmon into the liquid, bring the liquid to the boil again and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the salmon to cool in the liquid.
To bake a whole salmon, preheat the oven to warm 325°F (Gas Mark 3,170°C). Brush the salmon with butter or oil, depending upon whether it is to be served hot or cold, sprinkle with herbs and lemon rind and completely wrap it in oiled aluminium foil. The cooking time is the same as for poaching.
Salmon steaks, which should be cut about 1-inch thick, should be grilled for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, basting frequently with melted butter, or until they are lightly browned and the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. TO shallow-fry salmon steaks, melt enough butter to generously coat the base of a large frying-pan and cook the steaks for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, basting frequently and adding more butter if necessary.
If you do not have a fish kettle, the salmon may be poached or boiled in a large saucepan. Place the salmon on an ovenproof plate, about 1-inch smaller than the diameter of the saucepan, and completely wrap both the salmon and plate in cheesecloth. The plate and salmon may be lowered into the cooking liquid by the aid of the cheesecloth and easily removed, thus preventing the fish from damage.
The richness of salmon calls for the accompaniment of a sauce such as .