Saturday, October 04, 2014

Farmed or Wild: I'll Walk On the Wlld Side

First I'd better tell you that I grew up eating really fresh fish, fish that someone caught hours before we ate it.  My experience with trout was that I would go fishing in the Colorado Rockies with my parents, who fished with flies.  They would catch rainbows or German Browns, and put them into a grass-lined creel,  (the old-fashioned wicker kind) .  In late afternoon we would hike back to the cabin or wherever we were staying, and my dad would whack the fish on the head, clean them and start a fire.  I think he lit wood over some rocks.  When the fire was hot, he would heat a large black cast iron skillet over the fire, and then dip the fish into a mixture of flour and corn meal.  Some sort of fat was put into the skillet, maybe lard or bacon grease, maybe Spry or Crisco, and the fish would be fried up for dinner. 
This nearly ruined me forever for eating "restuarant" fish, but that's another story.  The important thing here is the fish were fresh and caught in the wild.  They tasted beyond fabulous.  You can't imagine how good they tasted.

We lived in Chicago for many years, and some restaurants had a Friday night fish fry, which was usually acceptable,  but for serious seafood,  you had to eat at the Cape Cod Room at the Drake Hotel and damn, the fish was wonderful but the prices were high. 

When we moved to Boston, we discovered Legal Sea Food, in fact I worked above their Kendal Square location for many years.  Always good fish.  We also bought it from Cap'n Marden in Wellesley to cook at home and that was also tasty, too.  I like seafood plain, like my Dad cooked the trout. Not gussied up with fruit or dairy products or Chinese spices or anything weird.  Preferably not served over pasta.  Fried potatoes or French fries, yes; coleslaw, yes. 

Now we come to the crux of the matter, that being salmon.  There are those who will tell you they can't tell the difference between farmed and wild salmon and my answer to that is that they have ruined their palates with bad food, processed food, overly sweet food and junk food and cheap Chardonnay.  Farmed salmon is sort of mushy, full of dye, and has an off-taste all it's own.  Wild salmon is beautiful, naturally red and tastes fresh and wonderful, and clean, just like a fish should taste.  We only ate wild salmon three times this summer because it cost a fortune, but boy, was it good. We grilled it with nothing but salt, pepper and olive oil.

I was horrified and appalled when Legal Seafood at the Harborside had farmed salmon on the menu.  "It's from Norway," said the server.  "It's good."  Well, it still had that "down on the farm" flavor and I didn't like it.  So I'm a salmon snob.  So be it.  

Farmed salmon is not as good as fresh.  I wouldn't eat anything full of dyes and antibiotics (sea lice, anyone?) for health.  Nope.  Better just scarf down a fish oil
capsule everyday.

Otherwise, go for a walk on the wild side. 

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