The farming and fishing of salmon on the island of Ireland has fallen far behind places like Norway, Scotland and even the Faroe Islands.
While the consumption of salmon, both fresh and smoked has skyrocketed both here and worldwide, the production of Irish salmon has actually declined.
We probably don’t realise that the vast majority of salmon we eat is farmed and produced elsewhere.
Farmed salmon does have a bad reputation in this country, which might in part explain the general decline, even though we are still eating it in large quantities.
Irish organic salmon, even of the farmed variety is a far superior product than most of the stuff we import, with a lot less mileage attached.
Over fishing has led to wild salmon production as largely unsustainable to meet anywhere near the demand we have for consumption and the same goes for trout and sea-bass.
We would urge people to seek out Irish organic farmed salmon from Irish coastal waters, produced here with the best practices, seasonality and sustainability in mind.
Organic salmon from Ireland is now among the most environmentally friendly and healthiest salmon farmed in the world.
Look out for producers like Frank Hedermans, who smoked only wild Atlantic salmon until 2006 when draft netting at sea was banned.
He now uses organic farmed salmon from the pristine waters off the west coast of Ireland.
Other quality producers are Ballycotton Seafood, Burren Smokehouse, Hanlon’s Smokehouse, Ummera, Wrights of Howth and our local producers, Good Fish Company down in Carrigaline.
Wild salmon itself can still be produced but in much smaller quantities. Producers like Hedermans will buy wild salmon, when it is in season from May till August from local fisherman using the draft net tradition in the estuaries of the River Lee in Cork.
Quotas are tightly controlled and stocks monitored year by year.
Salmon, Rice & Spring Greens
When the salmon is fresh, organic and Irish, it begs only for the simplest of preparation to make a wonderful meal.
If you can find them, spring greens are one of our favourite vegetables, being somewhere in-between cabbage and chard.
They are much more tender than cabbage but they are still robust enough that they don’t wilt too much like chard.
The best rice to use for this is sticky, Japanese sushi rice. Use tender savoy cabbage leaves or big chard leaves if you can’t get spring greens.
Beetroot tops would actually work as well.
225g Japanese sushi rice
2 skinless organic Irish Salmon fillets
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons of Mirin
1 tablespoon of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic minced plus one more clove, sliced thinly
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
500g spring greens
Rapeseed oil for frying
Place the salmon in a shallow dish along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, ginger and minced garlic, leave to marinate for around 30 minutes.
Cook the rice as per packet instructions until, sticky but not over done to the point of mush.
Wash the spring greens and discard any tough stalks, leave aside.
Heat a little rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat.
Take the salmon out of the marinade and add to the pan, frying on both sides for around two minutes.
Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat a little rapeseed oil in a wok over medium high heat and add the spring greens.
Season lightly with a splash of soy sauce, sliced clove of garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes.
Fry until wilted but still very green. Heat the remaining marinade up in a small pan until hot.
Divide the rice between two bowls, top with salmon, spring greens and pour the marinade over.
ROASTED ORGANIC SALMON WITH HERBED CREME FRAICHE
This is a great mid-week summer meal, being both light and filling at the same time.
We find the best Irish crème fraîche to use is the unctuously thick and heavy organic Glenisk version.
You can also find the very best French examples in Dunnes Stores now from Isigny Ste-Mère.
Use whatever combination of herbs you like, however we think for salmon a combination of dill, parsley, tarragon and chives is perfect.
600g small waxy potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
2 big fillets of organic Irish salmon, skin on
200g crème fraîche
4 tablespoons of chopped herbs -chives, parsley, tarragon, dill-
Juice of half a lemon
2 radishes, sliced very thinly
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Wash and peel the potatoes and place in a saucepan. Add cold water until covered by around 1 inch.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer for around 15 minutes until tender.
Drain and toss with a little olive oil and season with sea salt.
Place the salmon (skin side down) in a medium sized baking tray lined with parchment.
Rub each fillet with a little olive oil and season well with sea salt and black pepper.
Roast for around 10-15 minutes until cooked, leaving the middle still a little pink.
Mix the creme fraiche with a little sea salt, lemon juice and herbs.
If it is too thick, mix in a little olive oil or even a teaspoon of water.
Divide the ingredients between two plates and garnish with some fresh dill or parsley.
Making sushi is a fun and relatively easy process. We do not make it often as you might be able to tell from the photograph attached to this recipe, but as long as it tastes good it really doesn’t matter if they are perfect or not.
You can get basic sushi making sets in some supermarkets or Asian food markets and specialist stores.
Most of the ingredients are widely available these days, even the nori seaweed.
The only specialist equipment you will need is a tatami sushi rolling mat, which usually comes in a sushi-making set, but can obviously be purchased online.
We were lucky to receive a great set from the Japanese restaurant Yamamori in Dublin.
Once you get these basic salmon ones down, you can start to experiment with other ingredients like avocado, crabmeat, cream cheese, spring onion and tuna.
These are norimaki sushi rolls.
These are the basic instructions although there are some great YouTube tutorials if you are more of a visual person.
300g cooked sushi rice
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
4 sheets of nori seaweed
4 slices of smoked salmon
Half a cucumber, seeds scooped out, sliced thinly into strips
1 small bunch of chives, sliced
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
Wasabi to serve
Pickled ginger to serve
Mix the sushi rice and rice vinegar together, breaking up the sticky rice with the vinegar so it is easy to use.
Place your bamboo tatami mat horizontally down on your work surface.
Place a nori sheet on the mat, crisp side facing up.
Grab a handful sized amount of sushi rice and spread evenly over the nori, leaving a little strip at the bottom free.
Use a small bowl of water for your fingers if the rice becomes too sticky.
Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.
Place the salmon and cucumber in a strip along the middle of the rice.
Do not use too much or it will be too full to roll.