An excellent starter or light lunch—and the perfect pairing for champagne
“It’s all about the quality of the salmon,” says Rob Maylon, the head chef at Wright Brothers Borough Market. “It’s a fairly simple dish in its concept—just smoked salmon, salad leaves and a wedge of lemon. Easy as that.” Except, of course, that it’s not.
Each aspect, from sourcing the ingredients to the composition of the dish, is carefully considered: the salmon fillets are from the Faroe Islands, “carefully nurtured by three brothers who have devoted their lives to the welfare of their fish”.
“Var salmon is a premium Scandinavian salmon. The water’s different: it’s purer,” Rob continues. “It’s considered the best in the world—though of course the Scottish would disagree, and likely the Canadians!”
While the fish are technically farmed, the aim is to replicate wild conditions as closely as possible. The farm’s location on the North Atlantic means there’s a constant temperature of between 7-10C all year-round. The fish are placed in pens to swim against the natural current a mere 15 miles away from where their wild cousins choose to congregate for winter. When it comes to harvesting, the pens are drawn in slowly, into a channel that simulates a fast-flowing river for the fish to swim up before they are stunned and bled.
Traditional British woods
Once the salmon arrives at the Severn and Wye smokery, it’s cured, hung and smoked over traditional British woods—oak, horse chestnut, ash and cider fruit—lending the salmon a distinct flavour. “It leaves a lovely lingering flavour in your mouth, but without being overbearing, which means it won’t ruin the rest of your meal,” Rob continues.
“You can tell it’s been farmed and smoked correctly, because it has a nice waxy feel and an oily sheen, which is the natural fat of the fish. When it’s over-cured or smoked, it will dry out. This is good quality salmon.”
Sliced expertly with a long, sharp blade in the Wright Brothers kitchen—“you want to do it in one stroke, which takes practice! The aim is for it to be thin enough to see the knife through the flesh of the fish. The thinner it is, the better it will taste.”
Plated neatly alongside a fresh, crisp garnish with zingy homemade dressing, it’s served classically, with brown bread and butter and “black pepper cracked over it, if you’re me”, it’s an excellent starter or light lunch, and the perfect pairing for a cool glass of crisp chardonnay or champagne—’tis almost Christmas, after all.