Merry Christmas One and All

Merry Christmas One and All

A Tale of Cold Smoked Salmon

I've written before about cold smoking food and there's even a full review of the smoker that I use - it's simplicity itself. However, I realise that there can be a tendency to worry or even panic the first time you smoke something like a salmon. Questions like, should I brine or dry cure it? What brine or cure should I use? What strength should it be? How long should I cure it for? So, here's a breakdown of what I did with the salmon I smoked for Christmas.

I bought a side of salmon, ready filleted, from the local 'trade wholesaler', Makro. It's a 'bog standard' farmed salmon, nothing fancy, most supermarkets have it 'on promotion' around Christmas. If you can only get a whole fish you'll need to fillet it. The website has excellent instructions and a video tutorial on how to do this. I will say though, it's a lot easier with a good filleting knife. I use a very good, and very reasonably priced, Victorinox. My salmon fillet weighed 1160gm. I decided to dry cure it rather than put it into brine, it's a lot simpler that way.

I started my salmon by covering a plastic food grade tray with salt, placing the salmon skin side down on top of it, and covering the salmon with 200gm of salt. You can add all sorts of fancy things: sugar, whiskey, beetroot, all sorts of stuff, but I prefer to keep mine simple.

Salmon Salting

The salt I used was a medium sea salt. 'Ordinary' salt's fine if you can't get anything better, but try to use one without any additives. Anyway, it shouldn't be difficult to get some decent salt. Maldon Sea Salt's fantastic and widely available from most supermarkets.

The salmon was put into the salt for 10 hours. Then I rinsed it and put it to dry on a cake cooling rack in the fridge with a tray below it to catch any drips. It weighed 1080gm at this stage.

Salmon drying

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I'm Back!

I'm back! I'm not dead! I've just had a break from posting for a while. To tell the truth, none of my experimental/test cures have gone right for the last couple of months and my health's not been 100% either.

I've written before about the Garlic Sausage and Cider Ham that went wrong. I made another Cider Ham using an immersion, rather than an injected, cure. Cured and cooked, it looked good; things were going along just fine. However, unbeknownst to me, my daughter had twigged the electricity breaker when making coffee. The breaker had been reset, but my curing fridge hadn't. Doh! This picture of some cooked beef that was also in the fridge at the time, shows the problem:

Mouldy beef

I also made a modern version of a Victorian spiced beef recipe, said to originate from Melton Mowbray. As you can see from this picture, it wasn't a resounding success (although it tasted great!):

Spiced beef

I'll certainly persevere with both the cider ham, and the spiced beef. I'll have another go at both when we've got Christmas out of the way.

Looking back over the six weeks since I last posted, we've done very little by way of cookery. I guess, because we've both had rotten colds, we've stuck to 'comfort foods' and easy meals. Things like:

A cheat's tomato soup, made with passata and tomato juice:

Tomato Soup


Chicken Casserole

Veggie soup:

Vegetable soup

...and good old steak pie:

Steak Pie

The only unusual thing I've cooked with is some salsify that grew:


It's a root veg that some say has an asparagus taste. I can't get the asparagus taste, but it's nutty and good enough to serve at the centre of a recipe such as in a salsify salad.

Daughter Hannah's still cake-making. She made this cake along with her partner, Alex, who made the icing granny:

Birthday Cake

Yesterday, we had a trip to the local wholesalers. We got a good deal on a side of salmon and, against my better judgement, some pork. Neither are local. The salmon couldn't be even if I wanted it to as we're about as far from the sea as you can get in this country! The pork is from the UK and is actually better that it looked when it was in its vacuum packs. However, I still prefer pork from local pigs bought direct from the abattoir. The salmon's salting prior to smoking:

Salmon salting before smoking it

The pork leg's been injected to make Pauline's Ham. I'm trying a way of making it that uses a lot less brine, hopefully it'll work out OK:
Ham in a bag in the fridge

I'm also making 4 kilograms of of my favourite Dry Cured bacon. I guess I should have took some photos as I was processing it. How 'real bloggers' manage to do this when they're up to the neck in meat and cure eludes me. It would sure be more interesting to look at than this though:
Bacon in a bag in the fridge

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