The Salmon we use is farmed Scottish Salmon and Trout, therefore it is necessary that we make available to you some background on the life of a salmon and how we prepare it for you.
Salmo Salar, the North Atlantic Salmon is the King of Fish in Scotland and is generally regarded as providing the finest smoked salmon which gives it worldwide acclaim.
The Highlands of Scotland not only contain some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery but as Europe’s last wilderness it is sparsely populated and therefore remarkably unpolluted. Many valleys and mountaintops are only available to very determined walkers and climbers. It is the waters of these remote areas that provide the ‘nursery’ for the emerging salmon eggs. The wild smolts (young salmon) spend sometimes their first two years in fresh water. Only when the smolts reach a certain size are they able to swim in salt waters. The story regarding farmed salmon is almost identical, the same mountain fresh water or bore hole water is used to hatch the eggs and in which the smolts are reared until they are ready to go to sea where they are reared in large deep cages.
The baby salmon (or a smolt) will go to sea at a weight of from 40gms to 130gms and this will occur in late spring or early summer. These salmon will grow rapidly through the summer and winter to achieve weights of 1.5kg to 3kg in that first year and are called S1 or ‘one sea winter’ salmon, if they were wild they would be called grilse’. A Wild Grilse is a salmon that becomes sexually mature after being at sea for one year and seeks to return to its native river to spawn.
When the salmon reach approximately 4 kilos they are an ideal weight for smoking. More than 40% of their weight is lost before the smoking process begins. Eventually we have two sides of Smoked Scottish Salmon of about1 kilo, which appear to be the most acceptable size for our tables or further slicing into smaller packs.
Before salmon sides are smoked they are cured with salt. Some smokeries add sugar and even spirits, herbs and spices, this is not our practice, we prefer to keep it simple and use salt alone. Depending on the size of the fish the curing process will last almost a full day before the prepared salmon are placed in the smoking chamber.
Smoking originally had nothing to do with flavour and everything to do with preserving, before fridges and freezers were to be found in every household. Now smoking is all about flavour and there are several variations to this too! Normally oak chips are used, but sometimes a little beech wood is added, and then to add that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ many smokehouses use sawdust from the barrels that have matured the famous Scottish whiskies! In the past strong smokes were popular – we now find the general public do not care for a ‘kipper’ taste and prefer the actual salmon flavour to dominate – a more subtle taste to suit our ever widening palate.You will find individual descriptions of our smoked Scottish salmon to guide you on the ‘Order’ pages
Dundonnell Smoked Salmon, Greenacres,