The verdict is in. In a blind taste test at the annual convention of the American Culinary Federation meeting, 89 chefs and others associated with the culinary industry sampled farmed and wild sockeye salmon, side by side, prepared the same way. Sixty- six said they preferred the taste of the farmed while only 23 preferred the taste of the wild sockeye. The American Culinary Federation is the largest and most prestigious organization of professional chefs within the U.S.
"These results are not so unusual," says Alex Trent, executive director of Salmon of the Americas (http://www.salmonoftheamericas.com/), the organization representing salmon farmers in Canada, Chile and the United States. "Other blind taste tests usually show a majority of consumers prefer the taste of farmed salmon, so this taste test among culinary professionals simply further supports the fact that farmed salmon has a taste advantage over wild." (For more on wild versus farmed consumer taste tests go to http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595070562,00.htm.)
The taste test was conducted using fresh Atlantic salmon and fresh wild sockeye. Fillets were steamed. No seasonings were added. Each tester was asked to circle words that best described the sample. Testers could not see the samples.
"There is a preconceived notion that if it costs more, as is the case with wild salmon, then it must taste better," Trent explains. "That is an elitist attitude which equates price to good taste. We probably all fall prey to this attitude when purchasing consumer goods, but it just isn't necessarily true when it comes to food and especially farmed salmon."
Many chefs described the taste of the farmed as rich, buttery and mild- flavored, and were impressed with flavor as well as texture. Comments included:
"The farmed salmon had a better flavor and mouth feel."
"The farmed had a much more natural taste and velvety texture."
"I preferred the farmed because of the flavor and texture, and would like
to present the results of this taste test to my management."
"It (farmed) is pleasing to the palette and remains longer on the tongue."
Chefs and consumers alike acknowledge taste is about personal preference. However as chefs who count on a consistent product, they say farmed salmon is hard to beat. It tastes great, always cooks the same and is always available fresh.