The two areas where salmon deliver the greatest benefit are in the supply of omega-3 fatty acids and as a source of protein.
For years government advice has recommended eating two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as salmon.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a leading role in many aspects of human health: they help protect against cardiovascular disease by helping prevent furring of the arteries and lowering blood pressure; they help protect against respiratory infections by increased airflow to the lungs; they’re good for your skin and they’re good for your joints and bones. They’re good for emotional health too.
Yes, you can buy omega-3 in supplement form, but the scientific evidence strongly indicates that the human body – which can’t produce the fatty acids – absorbs them much more efficiently and effectively when consumed from a source such as salmon, tuna or mackerel. Besides, where’s the fun in swallowing a pill when you can eat a fillet of pan-cooked salmon, its skin crispy and centre almost rare, instead?
Building blocks of muscle
Then there’s the matter of protein. When it’s viewed as a percentage of the overall weight of its source, salmon has few rivals. Around one-fifth of a piece of raw salmon is pure protein – the building blocks of muscle. So whether you’re into weight training or just want to maintain everyday strength, it makes sense to include salmon regularly in your diet.
Welfare to the fore
Of course all this would be immaterial if the salmon in question were not reared properly. Welfare standards in Scottish salmon farms are among the highest in the world, with 70% of fish certified to the RSPCA Farm Assured scheme, which monitors how salmon are handled, water quality, population density, diet and day-to-day care.
Scottish salmon are stunned by trained personnel using either percussive or electric methods to ensure minimal stress on the fish. The benefits are twofold, protecting the welfare of the fish and maximising the quality of the salmon you buy.
On the plate
The ultimate measure by which the salmon we sell are judged is on the plate. Whether baked, poached or pan-fried, the trick with salmon is not to interfere or overcomplicate the cooking process. Keep it simple: think lemon juice, butter, fresh herbs and creamy sauces. Let the fish do the work.
Much of the salmon bought in supermarkets is Alaskan, and its toughness (and price) makes it a good candidate for burgers or fish cakes.
Scottish salmon, on the other hand, is a softer, more flavoursome prospect altogether, better suited to a few minutes skin side down in a medium-to-hot sauté pan, then flipped for a minute or two before serving with boiled (and buttered) new potatoes and steamed greens.
There has never been a better time to see what makes Scottish salmon the UK’s number-one food export. Why let everyone else have all the fun?