Know Your Smoked Salmon

  • If you’ve spent any time talking to me, you know I am into smoked salmon. What’s not to love? It’s full of protein, omega-3s and it tastes and presents great! But, as many of you have realized, it doesn’t mean much to simply say “smoked salmon” as there are so many different types. It has been our great pleasure to introduce many of you to Alaskan-style smoked salmon (also called “hot smoked salmon”). This is the style of salmon I grew up making with my father in Alaska from salmon we caught ourselves. The other type of salmon we sell is called cold smoked salmon. But, of course, there are other types too. We wanted to take a moment to explain some of the differences with a little help from a wonderful article in The Kitchn.

    Images & Some Content from The Kitchn

    Hot Smoked Salmon

    What’s Hot Smoking? Other than traditionally being cut a little differently than cold smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon (we call it Alaskan-style) is cured with a light, wet  salt and sugar brine before being smoked between 100-165° F or more for 4-12 hours. Some smoke hotter or colder and for longer or shorter periods of time.

    •  Hot Smoked Salmon / Alaskan-Style Smoked Salmon
      While there are many varieties of hot smoked salmon, the basic concept is this: Cut in strips or chunks, brined in a wet salt (or salt and sugar) mixture generally for 30 minutes or more, air dried, then smoked at a low temperature for 4-12 hours. Because salmon has a delicate flavor, alder or apple wood is generally used; in some cases cherry. The main difference between hot and cold smoked salmon is the texture, and to a lesser extent, the flavor. Cold smoked salmon has a firm, smooth raw fish texture while hot smoked salmon should be moist and tender in the middle with a slight chew on the outside. While cold smoked is usually sliced, hot smoked is crumbled or flaked.

    Cold Smoked Salmon

    What’s Cold Smoking? There aren’t many who are unfamiliar with the idea of smoking meat, but cold smoking is a slightly different process that takes much longer. Cold-smoking is performed with salt to remove water then smoked at 70° – 90° for 1 day to 3 weeks depending on the weight of the fish being cured.

    • Nova Lox
      Nova (as in Scotia) Lox are salt cured and then cold smoked. They are typically made from farmed Atlantic salmon giving them a different taste than wild Pacific fish.
    • Scotch, Nordic & Irish Lox
      These cured salmon styles are indigenous to the respective countries in which they are named. They’re dry brined and then rinsed and finally cold smoked. So what’s the differences other than the country from which they come? Usually the wood used to do the smoking is indigenous to that specific region.
    • European Kippered Salmon
      Whole salmon is split into thick planks (not unlike chicken fingers) before being brined and then cold smoked. The overall process doesn’t take as long since the brine and smoke is able to work quickly due to the smaller size of each piece.

    Non-smoked, Cured Salmon (Sometimes mistakenly called “Smoked Salmon”)

    • Lox
      Although cured, lox is not smoked. In the United States lox was traditionally made from wild Pacific salmon. Many use farmed Atlantic salmon now. This is very common in grocery stores and consumers often mistakenly believe this product is “smoked salmon,” when it is really just salted salmon. That’s why it tastes so good on bagels and cream cheese––the fat in the cream cheese is the only thing that can cut the salt.
    • Gravad Lax or Gravlax
      Gravlax literally translated means “buried salmon,” which is exactly how it used to be cured. That method isn’t common any longer but the salmon is still encased in salt and sugar allowing the juices released to brine the fish. This process is also known for it’s heavy use of dill, typically fresh and lots of it! It also quite frequently contains one or all of the following additional strong flavors: juniper berry, horseradish, pepper, cognac, brandy or aquavit. The fish is then weighed down to force the seasonings into the fish and push the moisture out at a faster rate allowing the juices to blend with the seasonings creating a tasty brine/marinade.

    February 18th, 2013 | Traveler | No Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

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