Fish and Seafood | Salmon & Trout
The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L), the 'king of fish', has long been a prized culinary delicacy dating back to times as early as the reign of Robert the Bruce. Scotland is famous for the home of salmon fishing and rivers such as the Tay, Tweed, Dee, Spey, Helmsdale and Nith are a European stronghold for the species.
Salmon fishing is available somewhere in Scotland from 15 January until 30 November although some rivers do not open until February while others close on 30 September. The thrill of encountering the small percentage of salmon that escape such dangers as nets, seals and pollution during their epic journeys to return to their home pools and burns to spawn is an irresistible lure for thousands of fishermen.
Trout is a relative of the freshwater salmon and there are two main breeds ' rainbow and brown. Anglers are just as intent on catching the brown trout as their prize in Scotland's lochs and rivers while the saltwater variety, the sea trout, is found in coastal waters. Rainbow trout is the most popular breed for commercial fish farms and is easily recognised by its striking purple or violet colouring.
The growth of fish farming, particularly on the west coast, has not been without controversy. There is concern that fish farms are detrimental to wild stocks due to the fact that they can encourage parasites and may be a source of pollutants.
A rapid decline in numbers since the 1980s for both wild salmon and trout have led to the introduction of catch and release policies, shorter fishing seasons for many beats and a call to curb the ancient tradition of netting in Scotland's rivers, estuaries and the open sea. Put-and-take fisheries, particularly for Rainbow trout, have become popular in many areas.
Although many would say that farmed fish do not have the same flavour as their wild counterparts, it is an important industry and last year Scotland exported more than 12 million salmon to 60 countries worldwide. Scottish farmed salmon was also the first non-French product and the first fish to be honoured with the prestigious Label Rouge accolade from the French government.
Salmon and trout are highly nutritious containing the essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein, vitamins and minerals essential for our well-being. Scientists have discovered that the consumption of oil-rich fish can help to maintain a healthy heart, reduce blood pressure and improve skin vitality.
Although they can be frozen, fresh salmon and trout taste best and don't need a lot of cooking. They are ideal pan-fried, poached, grilled, oven cooked or barbecued with herbs and lemon juice. If you leave the head of trout on, then you know it's done to perfection when its eyes turn white. Smoked salmon and trout are also popular as an entrée, served with brown bread and butter and a wedge of lemon.