Monday, October 08, 2007

What is Cold-Smoked Salmon?

I thought it might be helpful to give you the scoop on the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon: two totally different processes resulting in different salmon experiences.

Cold-smoked salmon emanates from the Scottish tradition of dry salting salmon fillets and then cold smoking over a slow fire. The cold smoke never cooks the fish. It just touches each fillet gently and slowly, melding the flavors and creating that sensual buttery texture found only in the best cold smoked salmon.

How is salmon cold-smoked?
First the fish are filleted and the sides are covered in a layer of salt for up to six hours to cure. The salt draws out moisture, prevents the growth of bacteria, kills microbes and flavors the fish (btw ham and bacon are also salt-cured). The fish can then be dried for several hours before cold smoking, a slow process at a low temperature: 70° to 90°F for 1 day to 3 weeks; the food is not held over the fire as in hot-smoking; but rather, smoke is passed by food which is held in a separate area from the fire. Since the fish is not cooked, the interior texture of the food generally isn’t affected: The fish remains smooth.

How to know if you are buying cold-smoked salmon?
One sure identifier when buying cold-smoked salmon is that is it usually vacuum-packed in see-through packaging and must be refrigerated. It can be purchased fresh or frozen. When served (see photo borrowed from Wolfhead Salmon Smokers) it appears shiny and slightly raw in appearance. This is also the type of smoked salmon commonly served in this part of the country when you order a bagel with smoked salmon & cream cheese.

No comments: