As salmon always used to be very abundant both in sea and rivers, it was widely consumed by human beings. Cave paintings depicting salmon demonstrate how long ago this fish was consumed.

The Romans loved it and sent for it from the north of their empire, wrapped in seaweed and ice taken from the mountains.

It is hard to imagine now that, at the end of 19th century, the rivers of France were full of salmon returning to spawn at their place of birth. They were so abundant that workers hired to work in the farms took jobs on the condition that they did not have to eat salmon more than once a week. And there was a revolt in a prison in Nantes when prisoners and guards became fed up of eating it every day!

Pollution and the redevelopment of rivers in the 20th century put a stop to this abundance of Atlantic salmon. The fish were suddenly faced with dams preventing them from swimming up the rivers to reproduce, and so reproduced less and less, and then, even when they could swim up river, they were poisoned by polluted water. Pacific salmon were less affected.

This is why fish farms were set up in the 70s. These farms started to spring up everywhere as salmon continued to be popular, but unfortunately they polluted the oceans in which they were located, contaminating Pacific salmon, the more numerous species, with disease via fishes that had managed to escape from the cages.

Fresh salmon

The criteria for selecting salmon are the same as for all fish. Choose fish with bright, unsunken eyes, red gills, shiny scales, and a pleasant smell of the sea.

There are three categories of Atlantic salmon: superior (no defects), ordinary (small defects), and other (injuries, malformations). Fish in the last category are not, in theory, sold.

The origin of farmed salmon is also important, as well as any labels awarded. Label Rouge and Label Bio salmon are always better, have a firmer flesh, and should not be too highly colored.

Smoked salmon

A traditionally smoked salmon, i.e. one that has been dry salted and wood smoked (in beech, oak, etc.), is always better than an industrially cured and smoked salmon. Smoked Atlantic salmon should be light in color, while smoked Pacific salmon is darker, but should never be too bright. The slices should not have brown spots or dark edges. Droplets are a sign of inadequate storage.

The words "do not refreeze" implies that the salmon had already been frozen, stored and thawed before delivery. That said, it is necessary to freeze wild salmon before salting to kill off any parasites that may be present. A statement that the salmon has "never been frozen" is an indication of quality when it comes to farmed salmon. 

Both wild and farmed salmon is sold fresh, either whole or filleted.

Frozen, it can be purchased whole, in fillets, cutlets, steaks, or thick slices, boneless and skinless, and thinly sliced to make carpaccio.

Smoked salmon is sold as whole fillets, as pieces of fillet (salmon steaks), in slices, or in small cubes.

Marinated salmon is sold sliced, and is made using traditional methods.

Canned: in metal cans.

There are countless ways to prepare salmon. Raw, when it is extra-fresh, in sushi, sashimi, carpaccio, tartar, marinated, etc.

Cooked, it can be grilled, poached, roasted, and stuffed; it can be served hot or cold, made into a mousse, or used to make lasagna or quiche.

There are many classic salmon recipes: salmon Bellevue, à la parisienne, with sorrel, as coulibiac, etc. There are over 50 recipes for salmon in the Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire.

Le saumon se grille, se poche, se rôtit au four et se cuit à la vapeur.

There are countless ways to prepare salmon. Raw, when it is extra-fresh, in sushi, sashimi, carpaccio, tartar, marinated, etc.

Cooked, it can be grilled, poached, roasted, and stuffed; it can be served hot or cold, made into a mousse, or used to make lasagna or quiche.

There are many classic salmon recipes: salmon Bellevue, à la parisienne, with sorrel, as coulibiac, etc. There are over 50 recipes for salmon in the Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire.

Fresh salmon can be kept in the refrigerator or cold room at 4°C for 24–48 hours at the most.

Frozen, it can be kept in the freezer at - 18°C, in its original packaging, without breaking the cold chain. Ideally, it should be used within a month: beyond that point, the fat starts to go rancid.

Smoked salmon can be stored in the refrigerator or cold room at 4°C.

Both farmed and wild salmon are fatty fish, rich in Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids. They are also rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.