Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cider Braised Cold Smoked Salmon

This recipe was an attempt to recreate a dish that I had at Trellis, the restaurant at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, WA.

Cold Smoking is used to add a touch of smoke flavor. Unless the food properly cured, it should be cooked after cold smoking either by grilling, braising etc. First, I need to create a brine. My brine consisted of:

  • 6 cups Water

  • 3 cups Apple Cider

  • 1 ¼ cups Pickling Salt

  • 1 cup Sugar

  • ½ cup Maple Syrup

  • 2 tlbs Peppercorns (cracked)

  • 2 Garlic Cloves (smashed)
Bring all ingredients to a boil and then simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat,
cover and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate the brine for 6-10 hours. You want it to be between 35-40 degrees. Take your fillet and score the skin and immerse in the brine. Depending on the size and thickness of your piece(s), let them brine for 6-12 hours. After the brining, rinse the fillets thoroughly. Now the fillets need to dry. I am planning on braising this salmon after it’s smoked, so I am fine leaving these fillets out on a rack on my counter to dry. However, if you were making lox you would need to dry them in the refrigerator. After a couple of hours, the fillets should be glossy looking and tacky to the touch.

We are ready to get our smoke on! I have a Smokin Tex electric smoker with the cold smoke plate accessory. I loaded up the smoke box with a small piece of apple wood, slid in the cold smoke plate, placed a metal pan with ice cubes on the plate and put the fish on the upper rack. I turned the smoker on to 150 degrees for 20 minutes, shut it off, and let it sit for an hour. The goal is not to cook the fish, but to generate enough smoke to penetrate the food and the cold smoke plate and ice keep the heat from reaching the fish.

I braised the salmon on the grill. I made a foil packet and put in the fish, apple cider and apple slices, placed on the grill over indirect heat for 10-12 minutes. The result was a moist flavorful salmon with a full smokiness. My only criticism was that the thinner sections were a bit salty, which tells me I need to cut the salt in the brine or possibly shorten the brining time.

I selected the 2008 Cougar Crest Grenache Rose to serve with the salmon. I fell in love with this wine at WBC and it is one of my top 3 Roses’ produced in the state of WA. This dark pink wine has a nice full mouth feel with an earthiness and acidity that matched perfectly with the smoky, rich salmon.

I’d say my first attempt at cold smoking was a success! I am looking forward to smoking all kinds of foods now.

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