For me, salmon is a strange choice for Christmas. Gone are the days when only the wealthy could afford to eat those rich, succulent pink flakes. Large scale fish farming has made salmon available to everyone at a most competitive price and many of us eat it every week, in some format. A few years ago there were concerns raised over farming practices and the resultant environmental effects but since then we have seen the introduction of organically farmed, Freedom Foods certified, Global GAP certified and Best Aquaculture Practice options which has widened the choice for the more discerning shopper. To be fair, there is nothing overly wrong with a generic farmed salmon, but for me the peace of mind that the farmed fish I’m eating comes with a little more tractability is worth that tiny extra cost. My choice is always the wonderful Loch Duart salmon.
So is salmon cool to eat at Christmas? No, not especially, but the derivatives that can be produced from it are. Ceviche, home-smoked, cured, tartare (to name a few) make this fish come alive. I recall Christmas 2011, just before flying to the MCG to see England thump the Aussies in the 4th Test, I made a Gravadlax. Interestingly, the fishmonger was most put-out when I wanted to buy the salmon and not have portions from it. “Never heard anything like it,” he said. “It must be a ‘Pommie thing!” Anyhow, four days later the result was a wonderful dill-cured Gravadlax (a Rick Stein recipe, in fact) that was quite new to my work colleagues. Recipes were printed for all. With a little work salmon can be more than just a baked fillet served with new potatoes.
Interestingly if you are a salmon fan it is well worth trying Norwegian sea-reared trout. These are Rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (not to be confused with our wild sea trout which are Brown Trout Salmo Trutta) raised in the Fjords of Norway.