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If you are a sports fisherman you may be lucky to catch one in the wild, somewhere down in the wild south, otherwise here in NZ all commercially available fresh salmon is farmed.
There are 3 main regions where it is bred – Marlborough Sounds on the most northern tip of the South Island – Akaroa, just south of Christchurch – and Bluff Salmon, which comes actually from Discovery bay on Stewart Island, the most southern part of the South Island.
The latter, which has only recently appeared in some supermarkets, is a beautiful fish with a deeper reddish colour and not as oily as its relatives from the other regions.
It is available through New World and Pak & Save supermarkets, distributed by Sanford Fisheries who are the owners of the Bluff Salmon farms.
The deeper colour is in parts due to the freezing cold water and also a genetic breeding program – Marlborough Salmon for example being used largely for smoking is genetically bred to get an oilier fish.
This I like to point out has nothing to do with being “genetically modified”!
All our salmon belongs to the Pacific [King] Salmon family also known in the United States as Chinook salmon. In Australia all farmed salmon belongs to the Atlantic salmon family.
Having worked with the fish in both countries, I find that Pacific Salmon is superior to the Atlantic variety.
Of all fish, Salmon is perhaps the most versatile when it comes to its preparation / cooking. It can be cured in a mixture of rock salt and sugar, like in the Scandinavian Graved lax, hot or cold smoked, poached, baked and grilled.
But perhaps my two favourite recipes are “Graved Lax” and “Lomi Lomi Salmon”. Here is my recipe for Graved Lax.
- Peter Meier
SALMON GRAVAD LAX
There are quite a few different spellings, like gravlax & graflaks, depending on which of the Scandinavian countries the recipe comes from.
The word derives from the word ‘grave’ which literally means ‘grave’ and lax meaning salmon, so it means, “buried salmon” as going back to the Middle Ages the fish was salted, wrapped in seaweed and then buried in the beach sand above the high tide line.
We have come a long way!
Serves 6 as a starter
800 grams of salmon fillet, preferably in one piece, skin on and the bones removed
½ cup each of raw sugar and rock salt
Chopped dill and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Place the salmon, skin down on a large sheet of aluminium foil, sprinkle with the sugar salt mixture, cover with the foil and cure it refrigerated for around 4 hours.
Many recipes ask for a much longer period, but I can assure you that is all it takes.
Scrape of any sugar and salt residues and slice the fish thinly with a very sharp knife and discard the skin, add the dill, freshly ground pepper and oil and leave refrigerated until ready to serve.
Serve with a little salad of mesculin greens, cucumber and radish.
And perhaps a rosti potato cake, which is easily and quickly prepared.