If you haven’t yet tried Verlasso Salmon – it’s a must have from our seafood department.
These Omega-3 rich fish have a silky, buttery texture that is perfect for grilling, baking or poaching. Marty Gaul, Heinen’s seafood buyer had this to say about Verlasso: “Our customers absolutely love it! They are really impressed with the clean, mild flavor, and even people that don’t like salmon love Verlasso salmon. I encourage everyone to try it. One taste and you’ll be hooked!”
Scott Nichols, a director at Verlasso, answered some questions for us.
What makes Verlasso different/unique from other farmed salmon?
Verlasso was formed to raise salmon in a new way. We altered a number of typical salmon farming practices to be more sustainable and friendly to the environment. We really thought about what we would have to do to be able to provide salmon for many generations. We feed our fish to optimize their health and vigor, resulting in a tastier and healthier fish. They also have more room to swim, so they’re leaner than other farmed salmon.
Where and how are the salmon raised?
Verlasso salmon is raised in Patagonia, which is in the southern part of Chile. It’s a really remote place with very deep, pristine waters, making it the perfect place for happy fish. The water is deep and the currents are strong, so our pens can be close to shore and protected from the weather. The water is very cold – about 50 degrees F. Salmon don’t like warm water. This area is cool year round and gets a lot of rain.
To give you an example of how remote it is, the last time I visited one of our farms, I took an hour and half flight from Santiago, then took a 2 hour private plane flight that landed on a patch of dirt. It was then still a 3 hour boat ride to our farm. You really do feel like you’re at the end of the world; there’s no industrial buildings or homes.
We raise our fish in a 30 meter by 30 meter pen that is 15 meters deep. We have about half of what the worldwide regulation density in our pen. We also fallow the pens for 3-6 months after harvest. This allows the water to rejuvenate completely before the next farming cycle begins.
We also don’t use the same techniques as other farmed fish for our nets. Since these nets are in the ocean, things like seaweed grown on them. This reduces water flow, which reduces oxygen availability for the fish. To avoid this net fouling, nets are normally treated with a copper based paint which stops the fouling but also releases copper into the environment. Instead of using that technique, we periodically take the nets out of the water and power wash them to remove everything.
Talk a little about the sustainability aspect.
The omega-3s found in salmon come from their diets. It comes from the fish oil of feeder fish such as sardines and anchovies. The single most important problem facing salmon aquaculture today is the amount of feeder fish needed. Conventionally farmed salmon requires 3 pounds of feeder fish to provide the fish oil needed for 1 pound of salmon. That’s just not sustainable. So we changed that. We feed our salmon a diet that contains a natural algae, which is the source from which feeder fish receive their omega-3s. So instead of using 3 pounds for 1 pound of salmon, we use 1 pound of feeder fish to 1 pound of salmon.
You describe your fish as “harmoniously raised.” What does that mean?
Verlasso has developed a comprehensive solution to many of aquaculture’s historic challenges. Verlasso’s break through farming practices foster the health of the salmon, reduce depletion of precious ocean resources, and protect the eco-systems where the salmon are raised. Balancing all these needs means we raise our fish in harmony with the environment. Verlasso’s Harmoniously Raised difference results in a beautiful and tasty fish with a shimmery quality, full fins, dark gills and bright eyes. The care we take means you always get an optimum quality fish, from an optimum quality environment. Happy fish are delicious fish!
What are some health benefits of including Verlasso salmon in our diets?
We can all benefit from eating more salmon in general. At Verlasso, we raise our fish with a diet optimized for health, not optimized for cost. Our larger pens give the fish more room to swim around, and as a result, Verlasso salmon has a fat content of about 11%, compared to an average of 18% with conventionally farmed salmon. Wild salmon has a fat content of about 8%. So with Verlasso, you’re really getting a lean salmon that is similar to wild.
Can you give us some preparation techniques?
We have a lot of techniques and tips are our website (www.verlasso.com). We wanted to show people how easy and friendly cooking salmon is. We also have some videos of techniques. Here’s an easy idea that I make all the time: Chop up any veggies you have on hand, and put on parchment paper. Place the salmon on top and salt and pepper it. Add a few slices of whatever citrus you have, wrap up the whole packet, and cook for 15 minutes. It’s so easy and so tasty.
What have you heard from people who have tried Verlasso?
I hear this a lot: people buy Verlasso because our sustainability story and practices meet their personal food philosophy. They buy it again because of the taste. People just really love the taste of it. Sometimes with wild salmon, you have to get it just right, or it becomes dry. Verlasso stays moist. You can’t overcook it!