Smoked Salmon - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Smoked Salmon is Salmon that has been cured and smoked, either through the cold-smoking or hot-smoking processes. Considered a delicacy in many countries, Salmon has been smoked for centuries as a way to preserve the fish for a short period of time. Since Greek and Roman times, smoking Salmon and other meats has allowed our ancestors to maintain their food preserves throughout the year. By the 1800s, on the west coast of the US, wild Pacific Salmon was caught in Oregon and Alaska, and on the east coast, New York City became known as the fish-smoking capital of the country. The mid 1900s brought with it commercial refrigerated railcars and allowed Smoked Salmon to gain importance as breakfast and brunch food in the American diet. Overfishing and pollution soon caused wild Salmon to near extinction. As a result, Salmon fishing became regulated, causing the price of wild Pacific Salmon to eclipse that of farmed Salmon, which are Salmon grown in contained areas. Today, Smoked Salmon is prepared using Atlantic salmon from Canada and Europe, and from species of wild Pacific Salmon, due to US laws prohibiting the farming of Salmon.

Most Salmon is cold-smoked, which does not cook the fish, yet helps to retain a tender delicate texture. Prior to smoking, Salmon is usually wet-cured, where Salmon is submerged in a brine, or salt solution, with sugar and other spices. Salmon is then taken to a smokehouse to be smoked usually under 99 degrees, for a period of time dependent upon the size of the fish. Less commonly, Salmon may be hot-smoked, which is performed at higher temperatures which cooks the Salmon, making it drier and flakier. In terms of flavor, cold-smoked Salmon tend to have a mild smoky flavor, retaining an oily and smooth texture, while hot-smoked Salmon has a smokier flavor and drier texture.

Types of Smoked Salmon
Lox is Salmon that has been cured in a salt brine and has not been smoked at all. Nova Salmon, also called Nova Lox or Nova Scotia Salmon, is Salmon that has been lightly cold-smoked and salt cured. Nova Salmon gets some of its mild flavor from the addition of brown sugar to its brine during curing. Gravlax, or Gravad Lax, is Salmon cured in salt and sugar and seasonings such as dill and pepper. Gravlax means "buried salmon" in Swedish, which is how it was cured in Scandinavia in the past.

Smoked Salmon Health Benefits
The healthy benefits and nutrients in Smoked Salmon are notable. Smoked Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats, known to reduce blood pressure, blood clots and support heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids found in Smoked Salmon have also been found to reduce cholesterol, inflammation, joint pain and may stabilize mood. In fact, in 1995 the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that at least one serving of fatty fish a week should be added to a healthy diet. Full of protein, healthy fat, and no carbohydrates, Smoked Salmon is the perfect snack or meal for anytime of the day.

Smoked Salmon Serving Suggestions
Smoked Salmon and dill sauce may be served as an appetizer, or as a main dish served with boiled new potatoes. Smoked Salmon with asparagus in a light cream sauce is delicious when served over pasta. Smoked Salmon may also be enjoyed when layered on a bagel with cream cheese, with slices of red onions and/or tomatoes. The juice of lemons and capers are also classic pairings with Smoked Salmon.

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