Smoked Salmon New World
Not Your Usual Smoked Salmon Meal
EVOO, lemon juice, capers, coarse ground black pepper. (For EVOO, click here).
Not a bagel in sight. A diligent search for cream cheese also comes up empty handed. What is going on here?
Not that we have anything against the traditional bagel and lox. It is delicious. But here is a new way to make smoked salmon delicious, a new way symbolized by the use of olive oil -- here is a new way, step by step, to approach the wonderful dish that is salmon smoked.
This truly is a New World: a marriage of the cold north seas in which salmon prosper with the warm waters of the Mediterranean where our ingredients for preparing the salmon originate.
The photo shows the end product. Looks good enough to eat, does it not?
What makes it happen
We need smoked salmon, obviously. There are 987,425 brands of this on the market. Shown here is a good one. The one you choose will be a good one. We have only one packet of smoked salmon here because we are preparing just enough for one person; of course, get extra packets, or a bigger packet, if you are preparing this for family or friends.
We are going to use the reamer (partially hidden there under the back edge of the plate) to ream out some fresh lemon juice -- essential.
Extra virgin olive oil, capers and coarse ground black pepper from a mill complete the very simple array of things we need to make this meal. If we want to get fancy, we could add a drop or two of Tabasco or some other hot sauce, or we could sprinkle on a bit (not too much) of fresh dill or rosemary. I suggest trying it first with just our basics, and then on subsequent occasions -- of which there will be many! -- experimenting with additions.
EVOO on the bottom
Boring photo, admittedly, though I suppose that if you like abstract expression you might something visually of interest here.
But since we are pursuing culinary interest here primarily, the photo is intended to show that it's important to put some EVOO on the plate first. before you add the smoked salmon.
Squeeze a little lemon juice there, too.
Lay on the salmon
Then dribble on more EVOO and ream out that lemon half over all. These two make a delicious sauce that can be used for any type of fish, of course. The EVOO adds a smoothness and earthiness to taste, whereas the lemon somehow emphasizes the sea from which the fish came.
Actually, much more than touches.
The dish would be delicious just with the EVOO and the lemon juice dressing the salmon, but the salty, crunchy taste to the capers adds so much. Capers are quintessentially Mediterranean, but they enhance the smoked salmon. They are a wonderful complement.
The coarse ground pepper adds just as much, sparks of fire almost. It does this to most everything. Here, however, it has the added benefit of standing out from the color of the salmon so that you know what you are getting.
Serve it with . . .
Grilled or toasted sourdough bread. Here we have pieces cut from a baguette. A regular baguette would be delicious here also, of course.
Top the bread with hummus if you want. More Mediterranean. You could even just butter the bread, or drizzle on more EVOO, if you dare.
A New World, right there on our plate.
The salmon here is raw salmon, in that the smoking does not cook the fish, though the temperature of the fish is raised to about that of a very hot day in Washington, DC. Oak chips can be used in the smoke houses, but the vast majority of the smoked salmon we eat today is made with less expensive woods and for shorter smoking durations. In the old days, smoke houses were elaborate affairs with ladders and fish hung up all over the place, the smoky fire in a small circle at floor level. Sawdust was used to damp the fire and create smoke. This has all given way to more industrial procedures.
Smoking was developed originally not so much for the taste it imparts, but as a way to preserve the fish when there was no option to refrigerate it. Techniques for doing this were honed in Eastern Europe, Poland and European Russia, and brought further west by people emigrating from this area.
Lox differs from regular smoked salmon in that the fish is brined first. The amount of salt in the brine varies the flavor. Traditionally it is lox that is served with a bagel and cream cheese, rather than simple smoked salmon. “Lox” comes from the Yiddish for “salmon,” and the original salmon preserved by smoking were from the Baltic Sea.
Most of the salmon eaten in the United States and in Europe comes from farmed salmon, that is, salmon grown as cultured fish in a controlled environment. The largest areas where this farming is done are in Chile, Norway, Scotland, Canada and the Faroe Islands, all countries in which wild capture in the ocean was once the major way of reaping the benefits of this very delicious fish. The value of the world’s farmed fish each year is said to be about $10 billion. This makes salmon the king of farmed fish, considerably ahead of tilapia, catfish, sea bass, carp and bream.
This farming of salmon is a complicated matter. Salmon feed on other fish, and for farmers to produce enough fish for them to feed on is difficult. It is said that salmon actually consume more fish -- "wild forage fish" -- by weight than they produce in their own bodies. The extraction of wild forage fish for salmon farming thus affects the survivability of the wild predator fish which rely on them for food.
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.