There is nothing better this time of year than smoked salmon for holiday parties. It has a rich flavor and bright color. It is also a healthy option that is full of flavor. When you are choosing smoked salmon, you have two options: hot-smoked salmon or cold-smoked salmon. These two types of smoked salmon have different textures, tastes and uses.
Here on the East Coast, cold-smoked salmon is the most popular. It has a silky texture and just a hint of a smoky flavor. It is only lightly seasoned so that the bright taste of the salmon shines through. It goes over well on a bagel with cream cheese and capers. It is also perfect for bite-sized horderves or a charcuterie board with gourmet crackers and cheese.
On the West Coast, hot-smoked salmon is more popular. It has a flaky texture and deeper smoky flavor. After it is cured, it is often coated with a glaze or rub before it is smoked. Black pepper, teriyaki and maple are common flavors of hot-smoked salmon. This smoked salmon tastes great in creamy dips, tarts, soups and quiches. It is also a popular choice for omelets and scrambles.
The reason why cold-smoked salmon and hot-smoked salmon have such different tastes and textures is because of their different curing and smoking processes. Both are made from the highest quality salmon that has been cured for hours then rinsed and smoked. The curing process is different for cold-smoked salmon verses hot-smoked salmon. Cold-smoked salmon is dry-cured in salt to draw out a lot of moisture. Hot-smoked salmon is cured in salty water or wet brine before being smoked.
After the salmon has been cured, usually overnight, it is smoked. Cold-smoked salmon is smoked at a very low temperature of roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot-smoked salmon is smoked at a higher temperature around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
The low temperature that cold-smoked salmon in smoked at allows it to have a silk smooth texture, fresh taste and bright color that is similar to raw salmon. The higher temperature that hot-smoked salmon is smoked at is what gives it a flaky texture and smokier flavor.
Both types of smoked salmon can be eaten cold right out of the package. Hot-smoked salmon can also be reheated and is great in hot dishes. Unlike fresh salmon, which should be prepared and eaten within 48 hours, smoked salmon has a longer shelf life. It can be enjoyed for up to a week.
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