Here at Spiny there is a new heartfelt topic of conversation every week, this week was no exception, and the hot topic has been Salmon!
Barney jokes that we should be named The Spiny Salmon because you, our customers, buy so much of it, and we felt that due to the rising prices and growing number of questions we are being asked, we would write up a little blog to share with you some answers to questions like ‘is our Salmon different, where do we get it, why it costs what it does and if there are any acceptable alternatives as a choice?’
Firstly, everyone would think they know as much about Salmon as they need to know, but it may be useful to know a little more context to understand where we are in these strange times.
Our Fishermen describe them as anadromous fish which basically means they hatch in the gravel of fresh water like streams and then migrate to the ocean. From this point they spend their lives in the sea, only migrating back to the stream where they were born at the end of their lives to spawn.
Sadly, due to chronic overfishing, wild salmon numbers have dwindled, the more that are caught, the less to get back to spawn, so now the majority of salmon consumed and bought in the high Street come from farms.
This can be difficult because farming done for short term profit can be open to parasites, illness, and even harsh environments such as starvation into the mix.
Finding suppliers who care about the health of the fish is part of who we are, but it can often mean we pay more to ensure not only the best quality of fish, but also its life before reaching us.
Wild salmon has obviously become the most expensive, and due to the overfishing is more rare and hard to obtain, especially at some times of the year.
In order to have it available for our customers all year round, we have also selected a farm that we have a relationship with and that we trust.
Sadly again, although it is less expensive than wild, it has recently also experienced substantial cost increases, and passed them on to us. We have absorbed those increases for almost the last year, but after cost to us recently reaching the level of tripling, we are now having to pass on increases in our cost in our prices.
Most supermarkets buy their salmon in bulk from Norway, China, Canada and more, importing them means it can be cheaper, but does bring the obvious issue of care in transport, and the air miles involved with its impact on the environment. Some try to use Scottish farms, but it is hard for them to manage at the volumes required.
An alternative we have explored to combat the issue of air miles and the demands on farming is to go for a different but surprisingly, related, local fish, A lot of people will be unaware, but Trout and Salmon come from the same family and live similar lives except trout spend more of their time, if not all, in fresh water like streams and rivers.
Trout are commonly caught by local fishermen and are an abundant species in England’s fresh waters.
When we cannot get hold of wild salmon, we have sourced a Scottish farmer with exceptional provenance, who we trust and knows to look after their fish with sustainability and quality of the upmost importance.
As some of you will have seen, despite us absorbing their unavoidable hikes in cost to us, their care with their fish does not come cheap, however, our work in finding possible alternatives has borne serious fruit.
As a result, we can highly recommend Trout, we have sourced a brilliant supplier in the Cotswolds, which has the added benefit of a significantly lower carbon footprint and fresher arrival at our doors. Our Trout comes at a quality we believe the same, if not better than our Salmon, but because it is more abundant and local it means we can sell it at a substantially lower price.
We obviously wanted to test this rigorously before we tempted you, so we asked our Head Chef Ross to cook us up a little experiment in preparation for sharing this blog with you, and served us a fillet of Salmon and Trout on the same plate, a blind taste test.
Given our more specialised experience, a fair question would be, did we tell the difference in flavour?
Surprisingly even to us, no. In texture or appearance? The same. Either we should all be looking for gainful employment elsewhere, or the Trout we have sourced seems to really be that good, I am currently still in a job writing this, so my personal bets are on it being that good, so why not try it out for yourself and let us know your thoughts? Personally it’s a win in my books as it comes in at half the price of Salmon, and can be used in the same ways as salmon, for example sushi, poaching, roasting and even in fish pies, the possibilities are endless.
Some of you will still want your favourite fish, Salmon, but until this madness in pricing is over, we will also be stocking its sister fish, fresh, local, Trout. We hope we are able to tempt you to at least give it a try, enjoy x