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How Smoked Salmon Became a Delicacy

Currently, smoked salmon is indisputably a mouthwatering delicacy in the United States. Besides, experts consider salmon a healthy meal option. And can we mention that you can use salmon to prepare almost any dish? Every restaurant and hotel has a salmon dish on their menu. But how did smoked salmon become a delicacy?

How Smoked Salmon Became a Delicacy

History of smoked salmon

Smoking is a cooking technique that has been used for hundreds of years. Back in the day, people smoked food for cooking and preservation reasons. In particular, people smoked salmon before winter for storage purposes. What happened was that homeowners salted and smoked salmon to last for an extended period without going bad. They used high temperatures to smoke salmon. Today, it is still used as a delicacy. And it has become popular among most individuals.

In the early years, some American natives considered salmon a sacred creature. It was said that people who handle salmon inappropriately would get into trouble with the spirits of the sea. And in turn, there would be no more salmon in the sea.

On the other hand, the Romans and Greeks loved smoked salmon. You could never miss it in their celebrations and special events. Nowadays, smoked salmon is no longer considered a delicacy for the rich. Due to the constant supply of salmon, the prices have pretty much remained the same over the years. So, most people can afford it. Not to mention, the living standards of most people have continued to improve over time. Therefore, salmon is relatively affordable to most people. Aside from being a healthy fish choice, salmon offers high adaptability. I mean, you can prepare it with almost anything. At present, there is a broad spectrum of salmon dishes you can enjoy while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

How to Smoke Salmon

Typically, if you plan to smoke salmon, it has to be below three years. Smoking salmon that have exceeded three years would not help you keep the fish’s freshness and original taste. Before you start smoking the salmon, you have to cure it. Today, there are two types of curing: dry curing and wt curing. More often than not, dry curing involves using salt; and this technique was mostly used back in the day. The majority of chefs and homeowners use wet curing for salmon nowadays. Wet curing entails placing the salmon on a saline solution for an extended period before you start smoking. Note that today, curing can be done using a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices; it all depends on what you want. Luckily, salmon allows you to get creative.

After curing the salmon, proceed to smoke. Like curing, there are two main techniques used for smoking; cold-smoking and hot-smoking. Although these methods are similar, cold smoking is a more popular option. The difference between the two techniques lies in the smoking time and the temperature levels. Cured salmon gets taken to the smokehouse where it gets smoked. The time it takes to smoke salmon often depends on the size of the salmon. Needless to say, if you have a large piece of salmon, smoking will take longer. Using the hot smoking technique makes the salmon more dry, crunchy, and ‘smoky.’ On the flip side, cold smoking salmon makes it smoother and oiler. So, it’s upon you to choose the smoking technique you would like to use. Once your salmon is ready, serve it with a side dish of your choice.

How to Cold Smoke Salmon

We cold smoke our salmon for 6-8 hours with cherry chips (at a temperature of 90 degrees). We perform this in store using our own smoker, this is a delicate operation. Of course you can do this at home with a stove top smoker as well. The best method is to start the smoker, add the salmon, close the lid, and turn off the fire. Allow the salmon to sit in the smoke for 10 minutes off the heat before removing it from the pan and repeating the process for a total of 2 hours. As required, replace the cherry chips. Allowing cold smoked salmon to rest for 24 hours and slicing it quite thinly is idea for even sized portioning.

What is the healthy portion size of smoked salmon?

In most instances, health experts advise taking approximately 140 grams of salmon a week to maximize its health benefits. But when it comes to this salmon, the portion is quite a lot. This is because 140 grams of smoked salmon contains at least 4 grams of salt. Thus, you would exceed your salt intake limit. So, consider taking not more than 85 grams of salmon weekly.

How Smoked Salmon Became a Delicacy

Which is the healthiest?

The best way to ensure you consume a healthier smoked salmon is to check the ingredients before purchase. As seen earlier, there are different curing and smoking techniques. And all these affect the result. So, when buying salmon, ensure that it has fewer additional ingredients. If possible, go for the one which is salted only.

Furthermore, keep in mind that there are different types of salmon. And each contains different fat quantity levels. Always go for the one with less fat content.

Mercury levels in smoked salmon – Is it a cause of concern?

Smoked salmon often contains mercury. But this poses minimal to no danger when you focus on taking the recommended portion per week, which is 140 grams. Nonetheless, pregnant women are often advised to avoid consuming more than 140 grams of salmon in a week. Otherwise, the mercury in the salmon would affect the development of the baby. This guideline also applies to women who are breastfeeding or planning to conceive.

Smoked salmon unquestionably became a delicacy due to the wide range of benefits it offers. Over the years, its popularity has continually increased among a large percentage of individuals.

Written by: Sarah Wambua

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