Quick and easy ways to cook salmon and trout fillets
About six months ago I stopped buying farmed salmon. We know the problems with the way of farming: that farmed salmon can escape and mate with wild salmon, that pathogens develop easily in such an environment, and then there is pollution. But these factors were only part of my decision. I just stopped wanting to eat it. It was greasy; I didn’t really like it.
“Why am I buying this? ” I was thinking. The answer was convenience. Every supermarket is full of them. Instead, I decided to buy wild Alaskan salmon. (I make two exceptions to my avoidance of farmed salmon: Loch Duart in Scotland and Glenarm Organic Salmon in Northern Ireland. Farmdrop stores both, but you can find other sources online as well.) We’ll probably only see that. two Pacific species here. : red salmon, which has the richest taste and texture, and keta.
I also tried something that I have always hated: farmed trout. It came from ChalkStream, a Hampshire company that sources its supplies from farms in the Test and Itchen, famous for their “clear gin” waters. The fish not only tasted great for farmed trout, it was simply delicious fish. I was not surprised to learn that they have fans in Luke Matthews by Mark Hix and Chewton Glen. Trout farming presents fewer problems than salmon because it is done in fresh water and therefore locked up (there is no risk of “escapees” and no sea lice). Farms use canals to get rid of fish waste – this makes an excellent fertilizer – and the Environment Agency tests the water entering and leaving the farms.
Then I watched the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy. It would take weeks to verify the stories behind the headlines used throughout the film. Some are outdated, and even those who sympathize with the general direction of the film have complained that some of the information is just plain wrong.
Nonetheless, the facts – and we’ve learned them elsewhere as well (most notably the 2009 documentary The End of the Line, based on the book of the same name by Charles Clover) – are shocking. Plastic chokes our oceans, but things like plastic straws prove to be a lot less of a problem than nylon nets and fishing gear that get thrown into whales’ stomachs.
The documentary looks at industrial fishing – the damage caused by the trawls used by huge trawlers as they scrape the ocean floor, and “bycatch” (whatever gets caught in the nets). Fish farming isn’t doing much better, and when you get to the human cost you think about, can we eat any fish, wild or farmed, at all?
I believe we can, but we have to know what we’re buying, and with fish it’s tricky. Where is he caught and who is watching him? In Alaska, they have been collecting data on wild salmon stocks for 50 years. In a state where fishing must be sustainable – otherwise the industry will disappear and the jobs of future generations with it – there are strict regulations.
As the fishery is always on the move, you need to stay informed. I was sorry to read that one of the farms that ChalkStream works with lost its RSPCA accreditation following an undercover filming by Viva, a vegan charity. ChalkStream has not tried to hide it and has informed everyone it provides. There are now independent vets on the farm, and they hope she will regain her accreditation soon.
We can make a difference by purchasing fish from sources that care about the environment and respect the people who work for them. Be good if this fish tasted delicious too. I started.
Creamy Chilli Crab Trout
One of the shortest recipes I have ever written. White crabmeat doesn’t come cheap, but the ease of this dish means it’s quite often prepared at home, especially in the summer. You can prepare the cream of crab as the guests arrive and 15 minutes later you can eat.