Dunkeld's Best in Class Smoked Salmon
In my opinion few things compare to the taste of freshly caught seafood, that is until I discovered the taste of a freshly smoked fish. In the ancient cathedral town of Dunkeld on the banks of one of Scotland's most renown fishing rivers, the River Tay, is an artisan smokehouse that has for over 30 years prepared and smoked the steady flow of anglers' catches.
When you buy smoked salmon at a supermarket, what you're getting is a highly processed fish, manufactured in a rapid process that can take anywhere from six hours to a day from smoking to packaging. At Dunkeld Smokehouse, using traditional methods, the actual smoking process takes up to four days. Guests are invited to bring in their salmon catch whole at the end of their fishing day. Each fish is individually tagged and prepared to order. The salmon is hand cured in salt for up to a day and dry smoked in kilns using recycled whisky barrel chips from local distilleries for another day. After the smoking process, the salmon fillets are left to chill and mature for a further two days. Hot smoked salmon, another option, is smoked in a hot kiln, and the result is a flakier cooked fish. Customers can also request gravadlax, in which fillets are cured for five days in dill, salt, sugar and pepper.
For the traveler passing through, Dunkeld fortunately sells their own varieties of smoked salmon, no rods or nets needed. I sampled the wild salmon, fished off coast of Western Scotland. To say that it hardly compares to supermarket smoked salmon is an understatement. One bite of the wild variety brought acute flavors of buttery salmon with a lacing of oak. The intensely saturated moisture of the smoked salmon is a result of the traditional smokehouse methods. After one bite, I know it will be difficult to ever go back to regular highly-processed smoked salmon. And, the taste of a fish you catch yourself is even that much better.
For the farmed variety, the smokehouse offers smoked salmon from Loch Duart, an award winning sustainable salmon company that aims to offer farmed fish as close as possible to wild. Loch Duart avoids using either anti-foulants or antibiotics, feeds the fish a natural diet and provides optimal room for salmon to move and grow. They are committed to creating a self-regenerating, pollutant-free environment. For information on mail ordering, visit the Dunkeld Smoked Salmon website.
Dunkeld is busiest around Christmas time, when avid fishers come in eager to place a big smoked fish on the Christmas table. It's the key to a truly unforgettable holiday dinner. Scotland, a fisherman's paradise, offers a variety of angling trips, for anyone from the seasoned pro to corporate groups. For the traveler, the Dunkeld Smokehouse offers a convenient way to enjoy your catch long after your trip. After the smoking process, Dunkeld slices and vacuum packages the smoked fish, shipping overnight in the UK and express to worldwide locations. Expect to receive your fish anywhere from a week to ten days.
My visit to Dunkeld was sponsored by Visit Scotland, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.