As you can imagine, we’re big fans of smoked foods here at the Wiltshire Smokehouse. The unique and delicious flavours that come out when you choose to smoke meats, cheese and fish are like nothing else. And, they truly elevate any meal or even board too. Smoked salmon is both one of our favourite fish to prepare in this way and one of the most popular in the UK. In fact, we import more salmon from EU28 countries than any other shellfish.
When it comes to smoked salmon, getting the best flavour depends on finding the best quality fish. If there’s one thing we’re passionate about, it’s quality. This is why we’ve pulled together this guide to buying smoked salmon.
Why Choose Salmon?
Maintaining a balanced and abundant diet is the best way to stay healthy. And, fish is one important contributor to this. Salmon, in particular, is known as an oily fish which means it has oils running throughout the fillet and into the internal cavity around the gut. These fish are largely predatorial and sit high up in the food chain and are also key to the human diet.
Salmon, for example, is a brilliant source of protein that our bodies use to repair and heal muscle damage. The high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids found in the meat of this fish are vital to our bodies as we cannot produce them ourselves. They are thought to contribute to a healthy heart and even healthy brain function too. Even the pink colour, caused by astaxanthin, is also thought to help prevent the loss of collagen and provide a level of protection against potential damage from UV exposure. All of this along with research that shows oily fish can reduce inflammation and help to improve memory all barter together to make for a good argument as to why salmon should be in your diet.
Smoked salmon still contains these same health benefits and, when eaten in moderation, can significantly improve the quality of your diet. But, how do you know you’re eating good quality smoked salmon?
Is Local Best?
Here at Wiltshire Smokehouse, we’re passionate about supporting local fishers here in the UK. All of our salmon is reared in the clear waters off Scotland’s West Coast. The fish here are renowned for being some of the best fed in the world with a less intensive farming process that has actually put Scotland on the map for their impressive yields. With the backing of the RSPCA welfare standards and the firm, less fatty fish that comes out of Scotland, we would 100% recommend looking for a Scottish source when choosing your smoked salmon. Not only does it taste amazing, but it will also be a fresher dining experience for you and your guests.
But how else can you tell if your smoked salmon is up to scratch?
How Does it Look?
Good smoked salmon should have an even colour across the entire top and a slightly firm texture to the meat. If it has too deep of colour, it may mean that the meat has been previously frozen or that it has not been cured correctly. This issue doesn’t just extend into looks – you’ll likely find that smoked fish of this type has a mushy and unpleasant texture to it. You also want to avoid any dark meat around the edges because this tends to come from the muscle of the fish rather than the luscious meat.
How Does it Smell?
We all know that smoked salmon has a very distinctive fishy smell. And while this is enough to turn many people off, it’s also a sign that the meat is fresh and suitable for eating. Fresh salmon has very little smell. Smoked salmon may smell – as you would expect – more smokey or oaky, depending on the wood chips that have been used. What you want to avoid is an ammonia scent (similar to urine or sweat). This is a clear sign that the fish has either gone off or is past its edible period.
Does it Have a Sheen?
Remember we said that salmon was an oily fish. You should expect to see a level of moisture in the meat but not a pool of oil left behind as you make your way through it. If there is too much oil, it’s a sign that the fish hasn’t been cured properly or that it could be pumped out with water.
How Much Does it Cost?
The price of food doesn’t always correlate to quality. But, if we look at smoked salmon, the opposite is more relevant. Scottish Salmon is hailed worldwide for its taste and quality. And, because of that, it does tend to come with a higher price tag than Norwegian salmon, for example. Our biggest tip is to avoid smoked salmon that looks too cheap. The manufacturer has likely skipped steps or used less-than-perfect meat in order to make these tighter margins.
At Wiltshire Smokehouse, we specialise in bringing you the most delicious smoked foods – including our much-loved smoked salmon. By focusing on a small number of farms that take animal welfare to the highest importance, we are able to receive exceptional quality salmon within 24 hours of its harvest. From here, our expert’s hand fillet each fish and dry cure it immediately to lock in all of the freshness. And then, we smoke it with our sustainably sourced Wiltshire Oak for up to 16 hours to give it our unique and truly delicious flavour.
We are incredibly proud of our smoked fish – especially our Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon and our Smoked Scottish Salmon. If you would like to try it for yourself or want to speak to a member of our specialist team, please do get in contact with us here today.