Smoked salmon has long been a brunch favorite and hankered-after passed hors d'œuvre, occupying a place of pride on menus and silver trays alike. And what's not to like? A little smoked salmon nestled atop a poached egg or draped across a lovingly spread layer of cream cheese on an everything bagel — or, for purists, sampled with nothing but thinly sliced toast — is just the right light, savory touch.
The trouble with buying smoked salmon to enjoy at home or serve at parties is that it's not usually the most cost-effective item to throw into the shopping cart. Thus when The Daily Meal's editorial staff sat down to taste smoked salmon varieties available nationwide, we paid attention to value as well as quality.
A panel of eight editors tasted nine different brands of smoked salmon, including samples from, among others, Russ & Daughters, Petrossian, Duck Trap, and Daniel Boulud. We set out with the idea in mind that the perfect smoked salmon is a balanced combination: the salt and smoke trigger umami, while the fish itself is buttery, silky, and smooth.
Specifically, the criteria we used included saltiness (was it bland, or was there actually too much salt?), smokiness (was it savory, or did it fall flat?), texture (how was the mouthfeel?), and finally, of course, flavor (was it nuanced or fishy?).
There were several clear favorites, a few definite duds, and some middle-of-the-road choices. The smoked salmons were supplied by their producers, so the package size varied. To make this ranking more helpful, however, we considered the price per ounce. After all, taste and texture matter, but when you're shelling out for something like salmon, cost doesn't always translate to quality. Or does it? Check out the slideshow for the panel's commentary and full details about each brand.