I grew up in a small town along the Mississippi. Fishing was a common past time and, as the local hunters had their own smoke houses, smoking fish was equally common.
I loved smoked fish. It was all hot-smoked (cooked) and I just assumed (ahem) that was how it was done.
Fast forward a decade or so and I’m in London for the first time, sitting at a rather important business lunch in a fancy restaurant. The other guests were raving about the smoked salmon. They asked me if I liked it. I said that I did (assuming I knew what I was talking about…..).
I was served a portion of paper thin, cold-smoked (raw) salmon that covered my entire plate. Smoked salmon and sushi had not yet made inroads in the Midwest where I lived. This was new to me.
It was an important lunch, I was a junior participant (young), and I knew I had to eat it – and enjoy it.
I stared at the raw fish.
I took a small bite.
I liked it.
I took another….
By the time I was half through my plate of smoked salmon I was in love…. I ate it every night I was in London.
Now I buy the premium, thinly sliced salmon for special occasions, to have as a first course. I buy less expensive cuts to put in pasta or risotto (or to have for lunch by myself). In summer we buy salmon and smoke it ourselves.
So many choices…. Read on for more info:
Things You Must Know About Smoked Salmon
Salmon has a rich flavor no matter how you prepare it. It can be oven-baked, grilled and even eaten raw, though the latter is not recommended. Traditionally, it has been smoked more than anything else. Here are the things you must know about smoked salmon.
Forget the Other White Meat and Go Pink
You may have heard how white meat like pork and chicken is healthier than red meat. It has fewer calories and less fat. Did you know that salmon beats both? Salmon has only 200 calories in a single 100 gram serving. A piece of beef the same size has 250 calories, if you chose lean beef. A fattier cut of beef will have more like 300 calories. The protein in salmon is also healthier for you. There are no bad fats in it, only the good fats that lower your cholesterol. Plus salmon has omega-3 fatty acids that protect your heart and boost your brainpower. Smoking salmon won’t destroy these nutrients.
Just Because It Is Smoked Doesn’t Mean It Is Safe to Eat
Meat is a breeding ground for disease. Smoking the salmon introduces it to smoke that can cure it and slow decay, while the smoking process may cook it to the point that it kills the bacteria in the meat. However, there is no easy way to tell if smoked salmon is safe to eat unless you know how long it was cooked. The alternative is buying professionally hot-smoked salmon, so that you know it is safe.
Not All Smoked Salmon Has Been Smoked
Salmon is a somewhat expensive meat, and smoking it is a time-intensive process. There are some companies that use chemicals to add smoke flavor to salmon but did not actually smoke it. If you want to replicate the smoked salmon flavor without smoking it yourself, you could rub it with liquid smoke, and then rub it with salt and sugar. Let it sit in the mixture for several hours in the refrigerator so it can absorb these flavorings.
Smoked Salmon and Lox Salmon Are Similar but Not the Same
Have you ever had a lox bagel? Did you know that lox is a type of salmon? Lox is cured salmon, but it isn’t smoked. Smoked salmon is either cured or brined, and then it is smoked. The smoked salmon may be salt cured, rubbed with salt, while larger salmon are cut in half and brined in a saltwater solution for a day or more. How can you tell the difference between lox salmon and smoked salmon? After all, they both share the buttery texture. But lox will be saltier than traditionally smoked salmon.
Salmon Can Be Kippered
The word kipper generally refers to a herring that’s been gutted, salted or pickled, and then cold-smoked. However, the word kippering also refers to the process of gutting, salting / pickling and smoking fish. When salmon is kippered, it is generally hot smoked at 140 to 145 degrees for eight hours. Cold smoking takes place at 70 to 75 degrees for around 18 hours. You can’t mistake kippered salmon for cold-smoked salmon. The kippered salmon has a flaky texture like cooked salmon. And smoked salmon is generally cut into thin slices, where kippered salmon is available in thick portions.