Farm-Raised Salmon: New and Improved
Farm-raised fish has gotten a bad rap, and not entirely without reason. Water pollution, the spread of disease and parasites, negative impact on both wild salmon and forage fish, and other issues have made aquaculture a dirty word to many environmentalists.
It doesn't have to be, according to a relatively new company called Verlasso, which raises fish in the cold, clear waters of Chilean Patagonia. Verlasso, says Scott Nichols, one of its six directors, strives to be "the best salmon farmers on the market."
As another Verlasso director, the appropriately named Allyson Fish, explains, healthy protein sources are becoming more and more difficult to find, while demand for them increases, and responsible aquaculture can help satisfy the need. Nichols has worked on biodiversity projects in Africa and South America and Fish is a former Fellow of the Environmental Defense Fund, so both realized the necessity of creating a better salmon product without damaging the environment. They call their approach "harmonious evolution" — a term they prefer to "sustainable," which they think has been overused.
One of Verlasso's tactics is reducing reliance on herring, mackerel, and other feeder fish by 75 percent without sacrificing the omega-3 oil content of their salmon. As Fish explains it, like us, salmon get omega-3's from what they eat — it's found in the fish oil of smaller fish. Verlasso has been able to create a food based on an algae-based yeast that provides their salmon with all of necessary protein, oil, and nutrients they need, while cutting down on their reliance on feeder fish. Because of this, Verlasso is able to provide a consistently high level of omega-3's in their salmon, as compared to other farm-raised fish or wild salmon (which see fluctuations in their levels depending on their diet).
Additionally, the waters where the fish are raised are not depleted of natural resources and left full of waste, because after each harvest the waters are left fallow — much like fields on a farm — by removing all the salmon for four months so that the water can rejuvenate. There is minimal human interaction and absolutely no industrial development, as you can see by the video on their site.
The most important part of this all that we haven't touched on yet is the taste. It may be all well and good for the environment and be a healthy product, but if it doesn't taste good, then it's really of no help to anyone. Lucky for them and us, the salmon tastes fantastic.
Our editorial team was lucky enough to sample Verlasso's salmon to create the delicious recipes below and we all noticed the same thing: the salmon was less fatty and oily than other farm-raised salmon, but had an incredibly clean mouthfeel and lightness to it. Now sold on Fresh Direct and in Portland, Ore., Verlasso is making its way around the country and into our kitchens.
Choosing to purchase fish responsibly at home is not a new concept, but it is a growing one. We realize that making the right choice can seem difficult, so make sure to check out resources like our Sustainable Seafood Guide and other sites like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund.
And when you do make your salmon choice, we hope you decide to try one of our recipes below.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Green Curry Sauce
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite dishes to make...
— Maryse Chevriere
Miso-Glazed Broiled Salmon
Miso is such a prominent flavor, just a little will add a whole new dimension to a dish...
— Jessica Chou
Mustard-Baked Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Crust
A quick and easy salmon recipe to prepare for a weeknight meal...
— Yasmin Fahr
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Lemony Hollandaise Sauce
Salmon is such a versatile fish that it can be cooked almost any way you like it...
— Carly Goldsmith
This is my go-to, I'm-too-tired-to-cook-something-hearty favorite...
— Allison Beck
Salmon is a great go-to fish — it's easy to cook, easy to split into portions, and extremely versatile...
— Molly Aronica
Ginger Lime Salmon
Salmon has beome so prolific that it can often feel like a boring old staple...
— Ali Rosen
Quick, easy, and simple. While I'm normally a stickler for making most things from scratch...
— Will Budiaman
Potato-Crusted Salmon with Chive and Scallion Sauce
Salmon, a meaty fish, can be made in a number of ways, usually glazed or marinated with herbs in my house...
— Francesca Borgognone
Poached Salmon with Parmesan Rice
If I do say so myself, this recipe is damn good...