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Smoked Salmon – Hot and Cold Smoked Salmon

Updated on January 6, 2011

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon - Hot and Cold smoked salmon does not refer to the temperature at which it is eaten, but to the method by which it is smoked.

Fresh Salmon is one of the healthiest foods available, but is it as beneficial when smoked? Here I'll look at the pros and cons, and suggest a couple of home-smoking methods.

Cancer societies world wide recommend eating salmon and other fish, for their high content of omega-3, as a possible protection from cancer of the bowel. However none of these societies make any mention of smoked salmon specifically.

Although some mention is made of smoked foods in general,

The American society for cancer suggests that large amounts of smoked foods may increase slightly, the risks of cancer, so should be eaten in moderation.

The society in NZ says salted meats probably increase risks of cancer of the stomach, and preserved meats, increased risk of colon & rectum cancer.

Both mention meats, but not fish specifically. These statements appear to refer mainly to bacon, ham etc.

Hot Smoked Salmon

Delicious and Nutritious
Delicious and Nutritious

Hot and Cold Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is high in sodium, so should be avoided in cases of high blood pressure.

Smoked salmon is rich in proteins and omega-3, so I believe it's safe to say it's pros outway the cons, especially if eaten with plenty of fresh vegetables, and fruit, who's antioxidants will help clear any free radicals which may be inclined to form.

It would appear that there is no problem in eating smoked salmon in moderation, and really it's not a fish that one is likely to want to eat all the time anyway. Fresh salmon is definitely more widely used, and a much healthier option.

There are two methods of smoking; hot smoked, or cold smoked. The hot smoked is the method used for kippers, and cold smoked for lox, or smoked salmon as we know it.

The main difference, apart from the temperature, is the brining process. Hot smoked salmon, at 145° is fully cooked, but cold smoked, at 80° is in fact cured, and still raw, so needs to be vacuum packed or frozen very quickly after preparation.

Cold smoked salmon is cured in a sugar and salt brine, smoked at low temperature, and sold whole or sliced very thinly.

Hot smoked salmon is cooked in a brine with more flavourings, smoked at high temperatures, and is sold either whole, or in Fillets or steaks.

Cold smoking needs special equipment, and a sterile environment, and is best left to the experts, but hot smoking is possible to do at home and here are a couple of ideas.

Start with a brine, an idea for the ingredients is as follows:

2 pints of water

one tablespoon of salt

one tablespoon brown sugar

2 or 3 bay leaves

two stalks of celery cut into half inch chunks

one tablespoon of chopped fennel

one small or half a large onion chopped

two garlic cloves, crushed

Combine all these ingredients and place in a Tupperware, or glass or plastic bowl, along with the fish. Cover tightly and refrigerate. This is your curing process, and will take several hours. During this process, moisture is eliminated from the fish, whilst infusing it with salt to help preservation. Leave for a minimum of eight hours, and up to 24, depending on the thickness of your pieces. Do not overdo it or it will become too salty.

The next process is to dry the fish, which will form a Pellicle, (a thin layer on top of the fish, with a lacquer-like appearance) which will seal it, and its stickiness helps the smoke to cling to the surface.

Take the fish out of its brine and place it on a cooling rack (like you would use to cool cakes) and leave in a cool place for at least two hours. Make sure it's in a place with good circulation of air, or place a slow running fan to help the process. Leave 2 to 3 hours until dry, and don't be concerned because the salt will protect the fish.

The fish is now ready for hot smoking. You can use a smoking box in the oven.

What's the best wood to use? That's really a matter of taste, but don't use Pine, as it has resins that will cause a bitter taste, or treated woods.

A few good choices are: Apple, Oak, Hickory, Almond, Alder, or any fruit or nut woods. Hickory helps that particularly smoky taste. The time it takes to smoke, again depends on the size.

An hour for thin fillets, and up to 4 for thick pieces or whole fish. You can test the internal temperature is 140° to be sure it's done, or test the fish itself, if it flakes easily it's done.

Once smoked, it will keep in the fridge up to 10 days, or frozen up to 6 months. Vacuum packing is best if you can do it.

Another, much easier and quicker method of home hot smoking is in a biscuit tin!

You take a biscuit tin with a lid, and a wire rack to go inside, or some chicken wire.

Put some wood shavings, or uncoated sawdust, into the bottom of the tin, along with some herbs; Rosemary, sage, basil, bay leaf, thyme, etc.

Put the wire in next, and pierce the tin lid half a dozen times with a knife or screwdriver.

Season the fillets of salmon, drizzle with a little olive oil, and lay them skin side down on your wire rack. Put the lid on the tin tightly, and place the whole thing on the hot barbecue.

This can be done on a burner in your kitchen, but will create an enormous amount of smoke, not a good idea indoors. You should start to notice the smoke after a couple of minutes, and the fish takes 8 to 10 minutes to cook.

The method of Hot smoking, will not resemble the cold smoked type at all, but will give the fish a wonderful smokey taste. Delicious served with fresh vegetables, or herb salad.

Now you have some excellent ideas to improve your dinner parties, but don't stop there!

You can learn to serve gourmet-style meals very easily in your own home.


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