The rise of aquaculture
World aquaculture production has grown tremendously in the past 40 years. This has helped ease the pressure on wild stocks that have levelled out at ~80 million tonnes per year since the late 1980’s – around the same time sustainability issues started to be realised and addressed.
The growth in aquaculture continues to vary between species, with fish like Atlantic salmon and basa (Pangasius) continuing to flourish in comparison to species like barramundi – which although is highly valued here in Australia, is still quite a niche product.
The table below shows the world production of these three key farmed species sold in Bidfood’s seafood range.
Barramundi is characterised by its large, silver scales which can become darker or lighter depending on their growing environments (black, silver or grey are most common).
The name barramundi originates from an aboriginal language meaning ‘large scaled river fish.’ Low impact aquaculture practices and sea water production locations (many of which have GAA’s BAP certification) assist in giving barramundi its excellent flavour and texture.
Low density sea cage grown fish are free from the muddy taste that is often associated with barramundi. When this species is farmed in freshwater ponds it becomes susceptible to algal growth that gives the fish a muddy taint.
Overall, barramundi is a versatile, easy to cook fish with a mild flavour. It is grown without pesticides, contaminants or hormones, and is great for kids with its hint of sweetness and lack of pin bones.
Pangasius spp. inc P.bocourti
Farmed along the Mekong River Delta system, basa is a Vietnamese species and is highly regarded for its nutritious value and soft, white boneless flesh.
Basa fish farms are strictly managed in accordance with national regulations on food safety and environmental protection. They operate under the scrutiny of recognised third party and aquaculture certification schemes such as GAA’s BAP, Global GAP and/or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) scheme. The certifications and schemes in which the standards of basa fish farms are benchmarked against provide international buyers assurance that world’s best practice processes are being met along the supply chain – from hatchery to farm to processing factory.
This particular species is low in fat and calories, high in protein and has a mild to sweet flavour. With its somewhat flaky cooked texture, it’s a great entry-level choice for those new to seafood. The versatility of basa makes it the perfect pair with most kinds of seasonings and sauces.
As a fish that has an excellent flavour, an abundance of healthy omega 3, cooks easily and presents beautifully on the plate, Atlantic salmon has become one of the most popular seafood choices across Australia.
The source of Atlantic salmon
Most Bidfood branded Atlantic salmon is grown and sourced in the waters along Norway’s coast. The waterways of Norway are surrounded by forest which provides organically purified water – meaning the fish live in a naturally clean, cold and safe environment. As well as this, Norwegian salmon is regularly controlled by veterinary officials (a minimum of 6 times per year) to ensure standard aquaculture welfare and practices are upheld. The combination of Norway’s pristine environment with the country’s stringent legislation and practices around the protection of its oceanic biodiversity guarantees that all Atlantic salmon is humanely harvested, rapidly chilled and quickly frozen to safely pack the fish for maximum freshness, flavour and convenience.
The farming of Atlantic salmon
Atlantic salmon are farmed in circular pens, with nets hanging from robust, verified structures. The nets are up to 50 metres deep with only a maximum 2.5% of salmon held within the net at one time. As the fish are cold-blooded, the design of the nets enable the fish to be in the water-zone most suited to them.
The salmon are fed a designated diet, made from a combination of vegetable and marine ingredients. This diet is planned, monitored, controlled and approved by regulated and recognised aquaculture authorities for quality assurance and to ensure that the diet covers all the nutritional needs of the fish. A combination of vegetable and marine ingredients has been developed to optimise the availability of ingredients for the fish’s diet, as well as to ensure sustainability in sourcing.
Since the 1990s, the use of antibiotics in Norwegian salmon farming has plummeted by 99%. Prophylactic use in Norwegian salmon is illegal, so these fish are never given medication or antibiotics to prevent disease. In Norway, farmed salmon is traceable back to the egg stage which adds a degree of provenance and authenticity to the farming of these fish.
Atlantic salmon in cooking
The versatility and quality of Norwegian salmon makes this type of fish a favourite amongst chefs. With skin on, it’’s crisp andcrunchy presenting beautifully on the plate – and with its skin off, the perfect portions of Atlantic salmon provide a flavoursome blank canvas for any chef’s imagination.
When paired with other foods, salmon works beautifully with butter, lemon, capers and white wine. It can handle the punchiness of Thai cuisine – from lemongrass and kaffir lime, to coconut and fish sauce. As well as this, Atlantic salmon also marries well with paired flavours like garlic and oregano, basil and tomato, and miso and mirin.
Beyond its versatility, quality and flavour, Atlantic salmon is a rich and natural source of essential omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. It’s also full of vitamin D and is bone free, making it an easy and healthy choice for chefs and consumers alike.
When it comes to cold smoked salmon, only the best quality fillets are selected for production. The traditional method of smoking salmon sees the fillets laid out, covered in salt, air dried to aid the preservation of the fish, then cold smoked over beechwood. During the process the temperatures are monitored closely to give the end product its silky texture, delicious taste and delicate smokiness. After smoking, the fillets are skinned, sliced and vacuum packed, then instantly frozen to preserve taste and quality.
How do you serve smoked salmon?
Served for breakfast draped across hot eggs, for lunch as the filling of a bagel, sandwich or canapé, or for dinner as the hero in a pasta dish or salad – cold smoked salmon has become a staple across most menus in the hospitality industry. Its versatile yet distinct flavour sees it pair beautifully with dill and mustard, cream cheese and soft, green herbs.