I had the amazing pleasure of recently being invited to a lunch celebrating Verlasso Salmon, a salmon farm down in Patagonia (Chile). Currently available through Fresh Direct (though they hope to expand eventually, of course), Verlasso strives to correct the misbegotten idea that farmed salmon is bad for you.
Actually, conversation over lunch was really interesting. Fresh Direct had a few people on hand – including their resident nutritionist, who is obviously very passionate about her job and honestly cares about the customers as much as or more than her job – to talk about the product and how the two companies formed their relationship, and Verlasso had a few people on hand to talk about their product as well.
The entire lunch using Verlasso salmon was cooked at Home, by the chef who very cutely told us – when asked about his experience cooking in restaurants – responded that he’d worked in a few fish restaurants around the city. Someone asked him which ones, and he responded, “Well, Milliesme, and Le Bernardin…” um, yeah, THE fish restaurant in NYC, talk about humility!
While I wouldn’t think to pair BBQ sauce with salmon, the BBQ salmon skewers were lightly cooked, with the salmon very tender and moist, and the BBQ sauce didn’t overwhelm the salmon flavor at all. I ate a few of these before the plate was removed, haha.
Our first entree, cold poached salmon with fennel, honeydew, fried capers and chives, was absolutely incredible. The salmon was gently cooked, extremely flavorful without much added to it – it looks like simply salt and pepper – and the little nest of greens was absolutely delicious. Fennel is not one of my favorite vegetables, but mixed with the strips of honeydew and the fantastic fried capers, it all worked so well… I had to keep myself from bouncing in my seat from how good this was.
Our second main course, pan seared salmon with grilled mustard greens, beets & tomato vinaigrette, was another fantastic win. The skin was super crisp – I can’t do that myself! – and the salmon itself again was so moist and tender, without being overly oily. I was really impressed with how well cooked it was… so good. I need to learn how to get the skin so crisp – I was told that patting the skin dry is one of the key tricks to doing so. Gotta try that! (Yes, I love the skin on just about any animal.)
Then we were treated to apricot and pecan rice pudding fritters. I’ve never had rice pudding in my life (yes, quite intentionally, something about the idea and the texture squicks me out), but in this form – after checking there was no coconut because it sure looked like coconut – it was wonderful. Crispy on the outside, with a warm center, and bits of apricot and pecan scattered within, I really enjoyed this.
Yeah, it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed the entire meal at Home – well executed dishes with thoughtful touches here and there that really elevated the food to new levels. Yum.
As for the conversation over lunch, it became clear that there’s a lot of confusion out there about farmed versus wild caught fish, and specifically salmon. I admitted that I don’t know much about the difference, but I DID know that I’ve read conflicting reports – sometimes farmed is better, sometimes wild caught is better. What does “better” even mean, anyway? Obviously that’s subjective. In any case, Verlasso farm raises its salmon, but takes great steps to ensure that it’s sustainable (using a different food source from other farms that raise salmon), and that the salmon have way more water to grow in than other farms do, ensuring the salmon are happy – and we know happy salmon taste better than unhappy salmon, right?
I could go on about all the awesome things I learned and what we discussed, but really, the takeaway was that we all wished there was a definitive guide to what is what when it comes to fish we eat, shouldn’t eat, farms we should support and farms we shouldn’t. It’s pretty confusing out there… wouldn’t you agree?
Verlasso farms salmon and genuinely cares about its end product – both the living salmon and the final salmon that ends up on our plates. I definitely intend to try some soon and will report back with my findings, and what I wind up creating for my meal! Check out their website linked above, and if you want to try it out, then go to Fresh Direct to order some!
Thanks to Fresh Direct & Verlasso for their hospitality and the lovely meal at Home, and for the extremely enlightening conversation. Per usual, I was not obligated to write about this experience – positively or negatively – and received no monetary compensation to do so.