It is interesting to find out that what today we may consider sumptuous and elegant was just a matter of people’s vital necessity in ancient times. Thus smoking meat and fish could provide our clever ancestors with stocks of well preserved food for many days. So, the idea of smoking fish actually comes from primeval dwellers of rivers and seas coasts. By the way, the first “plant” for fish smoking was discovered in Poland, and is supposed to trace back to the 7th century A.D.
The smoking process changes the texture of fish and lets it acquire a piquant smoky flavor. But what is more important, smoked fish is claimed to be free from harmful microorganisms as the process itself can retard their growth. Besides, before smoking the fish is cured in a salt brine or with dry salt in order to remove excess water and enhance the flavors, as well as to preserve the fish. In curing sugar is used with the same purposes as salt, and sometimes other herbs or spices can be added. The type of wood burnt to get the smoke also influences the flavor profile of the fish. Traditionally, oak or beech, along with apple or cherry woods, are used. Generally, there are two main methods of smoking which depend on the temperatures set for the process. Hence cold smoking implies the average ambient temperatures of 80°F to 90°F (27°C to 37°C), while hot smoking occurs at the temperatures of 120°F to 180°F ( 50°C to 80°C). Both processes take from 6 to 12 hours. Hot smoked fish gets fully cooked and looks grilled, so what you can find in different grocery stores is mostly cold smoked fish.
Now we can guess that cold smoked salmon, as the name suggests, is a fine gastronomic result of the cold smoking process. The fish has silky oily texture, and can be easily recognized by its tender orange color. Smoked salmon possesses a rich and delicate flavor, and will please you with a lingering subtle aftertaste.
One of the traditional versions of cold cured salmon is Gravlax. It is an original Scandinavian fish treat which was made by fishermen many centuries ago. They rubbed salmon fillet in salt, sugar and dill, which is an irreplaceable ingredient of this dish, and buried it in the sand above the high tide line. Nowadays the salmon is cured under refrigeration.
Here we have prepared the wide selection of the prime foods for you to discover the centuries-old culinary tradition left to us by ancient masters who knew perfectly how to cold smoke salmon turning it into a sumptuous treat.