Daniel Boulud's smoked salmon, produced for the celebrated French chef of that name, was ranked the lowest on the list by the panel of tasters. One panelist described the salmon as "stiff and unappealing," while others noted that it had a strange aftertaste. As far as price, this smoked salmon finished in the middle of the pack at a reasonable $2.88/oz.
Petrossian, from the famous international purveyor of caviar and other specialties, was the most expensive salmon on the list, at $6.93/oz. Though it came in second from the bottom, this salmon was not necessarily disliked by all the panelists. Several noted the bold flavor, but noted an herbaceous quality that imparted a sour, acidic note.Other comments ranged from "slightly-off flavor" to "not very pleasant," and even the panelist who gave it its highest score (87.5 out of 100) found it too salty, with a strange aftertaste.
The Acme brand salmon was the least expensive salmon on the list ($1.25/oz). Panelists agreed on its rather fishy quality. This salmon was also salty, with hints of smoke. Regarding texture, it was smooth, slightly gummy, and not mushy, if a little dry looking. One panelist noted, "the second bite was better than the first."
The Burren oak-smoked salmon, from Ireland (7 oz/$13.44) and available through Dean & Deluca, ranked just below its organic counterpart. The darker, orange fish had stronger flavor than the other varieties, with panelists agreeing that it had a pronounced smokiness. One panelist noted a processed quality, while others said it was fibrous and chewy. The salt was balanced on this fish, and a few tasters agreed that it looked the freshest, thanks in part to noticeable fat. It did have a fishy scent, but that did not deter panelists from giving it fair marks.
Burren Organic salmon comes right behind Acme in price (7 oz/$18.25), but ahead in the esteem of the panel. Tasters noted its dark orange color approvingly. The texture was another story. Some panelists thought it was meaty and even a little buttery, though some thought it a bit mushy, with one panelist opining that was mealy. The subtle smokiness and saltiness had one panelist describe it as "classic-tasting salmon."
Forman & Field salmon, imported from the UK where it shares premises with its parent company, H. Forman & Son, skews a little higher in price at $4.25/oz. This oily Scottish salmon is cured in East London, and was considered very silky and light compared to the other varieties. The lightness, however, was not exclusive to texture. The panelists thought it was delicate "almost to the point of being bland, and with almost no smoky flavor." One person did think it would be good on a bagel, which is never a bad idea.
Though tied in ranking with Forman & Field, the Browne Trading Co. does have it beat on price ($2.88/oz). This salmon had the most consistent marks in this tasting, with no real deviations from the average. This thicker cut was more buttery and considered a good standard, middle-of-the-road salmon. "I'd go back," said one panelist, who called it "one of my favorites, with the right texture, right saltiness and nice, not-too-fishy flavor." Overall, it was considered well-balanced between salt, brine, texture, and smoke.
As the tasting moved into the really good stuff, the adjectives from the panelists became more specific. The Duck Trap salmon ($2.63/oz), which is available at Whole Foods and Wild Oats, was described as glistening and buttery. Panelists enjoyed its firm texture, one suggesting that it would be a good bagel topping, but that it tore easily. The same panelist noted a fresh, evergreen quality to the fish, with others commenting on a deep, smoky flavor, and just the right amount of salt. The lone dissenter said, "It reminds, me of burnt chicken. It lacks flavor and there's a fishy aftertaste." Oh well, you cant please everyone.
The standout of this pack was Russ & Daughters' Gaspe Nova Smoked Salmon. Coming in with an average score of 90% and pricing at $2.25/oz, it received high marks across the board. Panelists thought it had beautiful, luminous color with a pronounced smokiness and even, beautiful striations of fat. It was considered the smokiest of all the samples, with one panelist speculating on an applewood note. "It's light-orange, buttery, and reminds me of sushi," said another.