Guide to buying smoked salmon

 

Blini’s with smoked salmon and horseradish mayonnaise accompanied with a very cold, very dry champagne. There aren’t many better ways to start a dinner or special celebration But beware, low quality salmon won’t deliver the same delight as salmon sourced with a little knowledge.

What to Look For

Don’t be cheap. Over salted, orange hued salmon will rob you of real flavour and enjoyment.  Expect to pay £3-£5 per 100g for quality salmon.

Note where the salmon is from. Freshness before the smoking process begins is imperative. Hand operators are able to slice salmon with a sharp knife while machine run operations need to wait until rigour mortis has set in to allow mechanical blades to slice efficiently. Scottish salmon can be sliced and salted within hours.

Brine or Salted? – Salting salmon to extract moisture is the first stage of smoking but can steal up to 15% of it’s weight which means its a step mass produced salmon can’t afford. Lower quality salmon is often covered in brine or injected with a brining solution. To counteract the saltiness sugar is added, how much sugar is listed in the ingredients?

Smoking and Secrets Salmon hangs or lies in the smoking chamber for 18 to 20 hours to take on board the smoke, which is carefully controlled at 20C–30C. At this stage traditional smokers have their own processes to enhance  the salmon’s flavour. Wood chips from whisky barrels and oak casks are used to add an intensity to the smoke.

Colour and Sheen Good quality salmon has a natural sheen but not a gloss, it doesn’t need lemon as it wont be greasy. Avoid brightly coloured salmon. Good smoked salmon is a natural looking pink.

Sutherland’s of Portsoy Salmon

  • Fish suppliers are monitored by the RSPCA and who hold Freedom Foods accreditation for care of their salmon
  • Freshness – smoking process which the Sutherland family have developed since the early 1900’s is started as soon as possible after catch.
  • Salted – this prepares the salmon for the kiln, and maintains texture and appearance
  • Smoked with the burning shavings of oak casks which penetrate the salmon flesh to give that special award winning flavour.

Serving Suggestions

  • On potato pancakes with cream cheese and a half shot of Arbikie potato vodka
  • With buttered walnut bread on a wooden board and cracked black pepper
  • With fresh prawns, lettuce and Marie Rose sauce with a white burgundy

 

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