Smoked salmon is technically raw, but it's been cured (with salt, sugar and oil) and then smoked (usually for about 6 to 12 hours, depending on thickness), so it's not the sort of raw raw fish to use in sushi or sashimi.

If you start with good fish, you'll end up with good smoked fish. If you buy the cheap offcuts of mass-produced bargain smoked salmon, vacuum packed and overchilled from the supermarket, do not expect a miracle. it will taste like plastic. Good smoked salmon is expensive. Wild salmon and farmed salmon do not taste the same. Salmon that has been cured in small batches over aromatic woods and herbs does not taste the same as a factory processed fish.

Splash out a little, go to the fishmonger or the fancy deli and ask them to order some real smoked salmon.

If you're just eating it slammed into a hurried lunchtime bagel, with a slathering of crappy low-fat cream cheese, it doesn't really matter if you are chewing plastic strips of not-so-good fish. But if you're eating smoked salmon plain, all tender and shiny and full of its own moisture, with just a little brown bread, butter and a small squeezing of fresh lemon, oh, you'll taste the difference in texture and taste.
Smoked salmon, like marinated saba (mackerel), provides an excellent way to make sushi when truly fresh fish is just not available.

Smoked salmon is delicious rolled into a maki (which means roll) with vinegared rice and nori, then dipped into shoyu and wasabi. It does not work quite as well as nigiri-zushi (the familiar Tokyo style of fish moulded onto rice).

Of course, smoked salmon is wonderful in a bagel, with a rye, black bread, or soft poached eggs.

Cresting a bit of smoked salmon on a bed of chevré atop a toasted bagel or garlic crostini with a few large golden eggs of salmon roe is also splendid.

Beer, wine, saké, coffee, tea, water, tomato juice are all wonderful accompaniments.

I lived with my parents in Alaska for about ten years. My father is an avid fisherman and would often bring home salmon. I loved the way he cooked it, but my favorite was when he smoked it. He tends to smoke it differently than you can get from a store. He uses more heat than I believe is traditional.
The result is almost like jerky in that it is mostly cooked, but unlike jerky the meat remains moist and tender. This type of smoking is widely used by people who smoke their own salmon. I don't really care for the type of smoked salmon you find in stores.
I prefer my smoked salmon on crackers with cheese. Occasionally I like to mix it with some mayo and pickles for spreading on bread. Once I made a devilish cheese ball with some of my fathers smoked salmon.
When I moved to the Lower 48 I was surprised at how tremendously expensive salmon was, and at the generally appalling quality of the fish. I have never bought salmon.
For the record, while I like bagels, I have never had salmon on a bagel. I don't really like the sound of it, as I usually associate bagels as a breakfast food. Salmon is not a breakfast food. I don't think that makes me anti-Semitic; it makes opinionated.

I just wanted to add a couple of notes on smoked salmon: homemade brown bread, butter and a squeeze of lemon is certainly the simplest way to appreciate the full flavour of good smoked salmon, but I can't believe nobody has mentioned a sprinkling of cracked black pepper! Of course this is optional, but in my opinion raises the whole thing to a higher level

Smoked salmon and eggs can add a touch of luxury to any breakfast: either flake some into scrambled eggs, or create a smoked salmon omelette with thin slices.

This is my dad's recipe for smoked salmon. We live on the Oregon coast, so we have plenty of salmon and other fish.

  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP. salt
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine
Mix all of the above in a covered bowl.
Add enough salmon to fill your smoker.
Cover tight and put in refrigerator for 12 hours, sloshing occasionally.
Put on a paper towl to drip for 8 hours.
Smoke to Taste.

There are two kinds of smoked salmon: hot-smoked and cold-smoked. Most people are familiar with the hot-smoked variety. It has a flaky texture and a refrigerated shelf life of about a week. Cold-smoked is the traditional Scandinavian style of smoking. Cold-smoked salmon has a texture similar to ham, which is not surprising considering the similarities of processing. Refrigerator life can be anywhere from one week to six months, depending on how long the salmon has been cured and smoked. Curing and smoking is a form of food preservation; the longer the salmon is processed, the greater its shelf-life.

Two factors affect the moistness of the smoked salmon: amount of oil present in the fresh fish and the length of time it is smoked. Spring run Chinook is the oiliest salmon and produces a very rich and moist smoked product. Smoked salmon of either hot- or cold-smoked variety is ready to eat. It does not need cooking, though hot-smoked salmon is a wonderful addition to scrambled eggs or with an Alfredo sauce over fettucine and cold-smoked salmon can be substituted for ham to make an alternative to traditional eggs benedict. Smoked salmon sushi uses cold-smoked salmon.

Other write-ups in this node describe the hot-smoked method of preparation, in which the smoker produces a certain amount of heat. I will describe traditional Scandinavian style of cold-smoking, employed by Josephson's Smokehouse in Astoria, Oregon, the only commercial cold-smoker on the West coast of the United States. The Josephsons family has been smoking salmon for retail and wholesale since 1920.

Filleted sides of salmon are salted on both sides, then laid in wax-coated barrels to cure. For the lighter "lox-style" of smoked salmon, the sides are cured for one week. For the traditional Scandinavian style, the sides are cured for up to six weeks. After curing in the barrels, the sides are rinsed to remove excess salt and hung on hooks in the smokehouse. Again, the length of time spent in the smokehouse depends on the type of smoked salmon being produced. Lox-style smoked salmon is smoked for only about a day; smoked salmon jerky strips are smoked for upwards of a week. The smokehouse is kept at a steady 55 degrees Fahrenheit (hence "cold-smoked") while alder wood, in abundance on the north Oregon coast, is burnt to produce smouldering smoke which gives the salmon its distinct smoked flavour. After the salmon sides comes out of the smokehouse, they may be cut into chunks, sliced or left as an entire side, and packaged. The salmon flesh retains its bright color, enhanced by the smoking process, without artificial coloring.

IMHO, this is without question the best smoked salmon available. The lox-style, made from Chinook or King, salmon is less salty than East coast nova lox and has a slight smoky flavor. Sockeye or Red salmon from Alaska produces a firm-fleshed product with a unique flavor. Coho or silver salmon is a less oily alternative to the popular Chinook.

Disclaimer: I worked for Josephsons over summers in the early 1980s and we have remained friends ever since. I want you all to buy Josephsons smoked salmon, available by mail order and through their web site

Please note: Smoked salmon is not raw - it has been cured. You cannot eat raw salmon. It will make you very sick. When you order "fresh" salmon at a sushi bar, it is not fresh. It has been freezer-cured; it has been frozen and thawed.

In addition to the above entries on smoked salmon there is yet another way to produce this tasty treat. When I was growing up in Washington state we would go to the local indian reservation in Suquamish and watch the native americans smoke salmon.

They would do this as follows:

  • Cut and split a cedar tree into long thin strips about a quarter inch on a side.
  • Weave these strips into a flat container with the salmon on the inside. As I remember these "baskets" would be about four to five feet long, and perhaps a foot or so wide and just thick enough to hold the salmon which had been cut up into thin strips.
  • These baskets were then set next to and over an Alder wood fire, and smoked.

There is nothing quite like Salmon prepared that way.

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