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Sea food lovers are in for good news as they can now relish salmon, native to tributaries of North Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, in Indianised versions like 'Amritsari Tawa Salmon' and 'Bengali yogurt mustard Salmon'.
Aimed at sharing knowledge and passion for producing the best tasting salmon from Norway, Consul General of the Royal Norwegian Consulate H E Torbjon Holthe and Vice Counsel and Norwegian Seafood Council Director India, Yogi Shergill, held a demo cooking session in Mumbai recently to offer a glimpse of the European country's aquaculture known for producing delicious and delicately flavoured salmon fish.
"Salmon from Norway is raised in cold, clear waters. It grows at its own pace, gaining a pure and fresh taste, fat marbling and an attractive red-orange colouring. It also has a firm consistency, making it a pleasure to eat," Shergill, who dished out 'Grilled Salmon Fillet with Tandoori Marinade' and smoked salmon appetisers at the event, told PTI.
The production and consumption of farmed salmon is around 2.4 million tons in the world, of which Norway's share is 1.3 million tons. Ninety five per cent of Norwegian salmon is exported to other parts of Europe, Asia and the US.
"The Indian consumption of salmon was around 450 tons in 2015, which is small compared to the consumption base we have identified to be around 25 million people, who have the buying power to purchase salmon and cod," he said.
When asked if he sees a growing demand for salmon among fish lovers in India, he said the country consumed around 9.2 million tons of seafood every year, half of which comes from the Indian Ocean and the rest from fresh water aquaculture.
This consumption growth has increased six times in the past 15 years and we believe this trend will continue, he said.
"So yes, we believe that there is a long term potential for imported seafood in India as the wild catch from Indian coastal waters is not growing. India also has a young population which is more health focused and also willing to explore new foods," he said.
"We believe that preparing the groundwork now will result in long term benefits," the official said.
On the unique recipes of salmon, Shergill said the fish is popular around the world. Atlantic salmon can be served in variety of ways - from poached to pickled, smoked to sushi.
"Smoked salmon is a favourite in many hotels, we have seen salmon tikka, fried salmon in Indian cuisine," he said.
"In Norway, salmon is eaten raw as sushi, baked in the oven, pan fried and grilled. We have recently made a recipe brochure for Norwegian salmon in Indian cuisine with dishes like 'Amritsari Tawa Salmon', 'Bengali yogurt mustard Salmon' and 'Vindaloo glazed Salmon' to mention a few," he said.
He said Indian market and consumer are used to white fish low on fat. Salmon on the other hand is pink in colour and has a high fat content. "The Indian consumer has therefore little knowledge on how to prepare this fish. Making it into a curry with lots of spices will kill distinct flavour of the fish. We therefore have a focus to share with the Indian market on how best to prepare the salmon," the official said. He, however, mentioned that salmon farming is not viable in India as it is a cold water fish that lives in ocean waters between 4 to 15 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, most of the salmon farms are in the Northern hemisphere. He also revealed some health benefits of the fish. The human brain loves salmon. A number of studies have shown that eating seafood supports brain function and helps combat depression. Other studies show that dietary content rich in marine omega-3 fatty acids can help children with learning disabilities, he said. Eating fish can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Also, marine omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring and mackerel and even cod improve heart health and function, thereby reducing the amount of vein-clogging cholesterol in the blood which can lower the risk of cardiac infarction, he said. Aside from sunshine on your skin, the other way to up your intake of vitamin D is to eat fatty species of fish such as salmon, he said. Shergill said wild salmon has been a part of the history of the 'land of midnight sun' through the centuries due to the country's large coastline and abundance of rivers. The wild salmon, on the other hand, is seasonal as it returns for four months only from May to August. It is also very expensive as most of the rivers are private and salmon lovers are willing to pay large sums to fish in these waters. Therefore, some innovative Norwegians decided to farm salmon and supply the market year around, he said. "Norway's ocean-farmed Atlantic salmon comes from the same origins as wild, thanks to our pioneering idea. In the 1970s, we collected salmon from 40 Norwegian rivers to breed in our ocean farms. Norwegian farmed salmon has the same genetics as the wild salmon, but its feed allows it to grow faster, mature later and resist disease better," he said. "Ocean-farmed salmon from Norway is well looked after and available all year round. We set high standards and our model of sustainably managed aquaculture is recognised worldwide," Shergill added.