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You know a piece of smoked salmon is good when it requires practically no help from your gnashers and instead breaks apart effortlessly in your mouth. That sumptuous melt-in-your-mouth texture is only possible when said salmon comes from good stock, is especially fatty and perfectly marbled—like the premium slices from New Zealand King Salmon.
For decades, this New Zealand-based outfit has been raising “best-in-breed” Ōra King salmon in the fresh, clear waters of the Marlborough Sound. Here, the prestigious fish—which represent less than 1 percent of the world’s salmon supply—mature in roomy sea farm pens, where there’s a 98 percent ratio of water to fish. The clean, unpopulated waters cut down the need for chemicals and antibiotics which typically give the fish a subpar flavor.
Praised for its rich taste, high oil content and pronounced marbling, the salmon has become a firm favorite among America’s preeminent chefs—from Daniel Boulud to Thomas Keller—and has all the opulence of raw fatty tuna. Given its bucketload of flavor, you only need a smidge—but where’s the fun in that? I stacked the delicate slices atop a still-warm French baguette until the salmon-to-bread ratio swung well in the fish’s favor. I added cream cheese, capers and washed it all down with the requisite bubbly. All the flavors came together harmoniously. I got around 2 pounds of the good stuff and it was legitimately difficult to stop myself from devouring the whole lot in one day. Take it from me, this is the Smoked Salmon you need for the holidays.