Wild Water and Woodsmoke

Foreword by Pete Evans, photography by Nick Osborne

By Kerry Scambler
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Wild Water and Woodsmoke - Celebrating 25 years of Salmon farming

Wild Water and Woodsmoke - Celebrating 25 years of Salmon farming


Marine farming is now one of Tasmania’s most significant industries with its products gracing stylish restaurant tables and premium outlets around the world.

Much of this demand can surely be attributed to the vast publicity by Tetsuya Wakuda and other high profile chefs all proclaiming its premium quality.

Adding to its reputation for excellence, much research over many years has identified and defined the positive health qualities of salmon which now form part of the marketing mix.

Tassal started operations in 1986, some 25 years ago, and to celebrate this achievement and the superb taste of Tasmanian salmon, the hard cover Wild Water and Woodsmoke has been published.

This period of time has seen remarkable change in attitudes to sustainability. At the time Tassal’s first fish were hatching in the mid 90s, the world’s fish catch was peaking at 80,000 – 95,000 million tons per year (depending on whose figures you take). This hasn’t changed yet demand has almost doubled, resulting in many species in crisis with some being virtually wiped out.

Aquaculture now accounts for a massive amount of the world’s fish supply and there’s still a debate on the real sustainability and environmental issues of open aquaculture. But, given our current demand for fish, aquaculture seems to be the only answer along with the swelling desire from consumers to know where our food comes from and how it's treated along the way.

Tassal appears to be committed to its environment and sustainability to the extent it’s now in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund Australia by signing their Sustainable Seafood Charter. Essentially this means the company  will ‘achieve ecologically sustainable aquaculture production, safeguard valuable marine ecosystems, ensure the long-term viability of seafood supply and help the businesses and local communities that depend on a healthy marine environment.’

To those living in the state, it's fairly obvious why Tasmania's environment produces the world's best salmon, a proposition both Tassal and their competitor, Huon Aquaculture both passionately believe in.

In their 2008 book Huon’s Connoisseur’s Guide to Salmon, Huon Aquaculture credits the pristine waters and Tasmania’s unique environment whilst in Wild Water and Woodsmoke, Tassal state: 'Pristine waters crisp with the chill of Antarctica sweep past Tasmania's rocky southern shores bringing with them the pure flavour of the wild ocean.'  If these words don't give you the mental image, then Nick Osborne's spectacular photography will certainly set the scene.

But, Wild Water and Woodsmoke isn’t a book about Tassal. Following short sections on their history in Tasmania and background information on salmon in general, the majority of the book is dedicated to showcasing the produce itself – the mighty Atlantic salmon in all its tasty splendour.

Australia's leading chefs freely share in this celebration of all things salmon pink with their favourite dishes. Recipe compiler and editor Paul County says 'none of the recipes are beyond the reach of the adventurous home cook although some will be a challenge for sure'.

But with Nick's inspirational photos and some simpler suggestions from Pete Evans to start with – Barbecued Salmon with cucumber spaghetti or Easy Barbecued Salmon Curry – you can work towards Gabriel Gate's magnificent Christmas Salmon.

As a taster, some of the other recipes we’d like to try are:

  • Smoked Salmon with Southern Rock Lobster – Nick Anthony (Pure South, Melbourne)
  • Smoked Salmon and Goat’s Cheese Frittata – Alison Taafe
  • Salmon Tortellini with Lemongrass Soy Butter Sauce – Teage Ezard (Ezard Restaurant, Melbourne)

One heartfelt suggestion for the publishers for any future reprints is to please make some of the printing on backgrounds a little more legible – a couple (eg pages 3 and 75) are simply too hard to read, even with reading glasses!

I loved Huon’s book when I reviewed it in 2009 and refreshed my relationship with it to write this review. It went further into cooking methods, storing, preservation etc with only a small portion dedicated to pure recipes. But, with the Tassal book now firmly ensconced in the library, the range of recipes and information about a favourite Tasmanian product is pretty much complete with Wild Water and Woodsmoke certainly providing the top level and more challenging recipes.

And don’t forget the special bonus, whatever you base your salmon cooking around, the healthy aspect of the fish itself is not disputed with its massive Omega 3 content. Enjoy just two serves a week and you’ll have not only tasted a seafood delight, you’ve had your recommended intake!

Highly recommended for lovers of salmon or just generally all things Tasmanian – this book should be on your shelf.

Footnote: Tassal has also joined MasterChef 2012 as a production partner which will see their fresh salmon used during programming to highlight how easy and versatile it is to prepare and cook in all its fresh and valued-added forms.


Wild Water and Woodsmoke is published by Tassal Group Limited (RRP A$29.95) and is available at a discounted price through www.tasfoodbooks.com


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May 24th, 2012
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