Smoked Salmon - Fabulous Gift from the Sea

By: Sherry Shantel

While the waters of the Atlantic have been devastatingly over fished today for Salmon to be placed onto countless million dinner tables each year, the waters of Alaska are still very well populated with fish due to the fact of the guidelines fishermen have to follow in Alaska. In the nineteenth century almost all commercial Salmon were pulled from the Atlantic. Being canned in New England to be eagerly shipped off to California in the 1840s, and by the middle of the 1860's the tasty delights were actually being produced in California and then carried off to the east!
A majority of salmon today (around 70%) are not even fished anymore, they are farmed on fish farms. Alaskan Salmon is a prime exception though. They live freely in the Pacific Ocean until the time they decide to return to the rivers of Alaska where they were conceived.
Alaskans highly praise the value of the Salmons orange-red flesh and thought that any form of disrespect shown to these fish would cause Sea Gods to take the salmon away.
Alaska is also the home of wolves, bears and another 130 other species. This made Salmon a very common meal for these animals, and for the Native people of Alaska as well due to the ease of preservation and its flavor when smoked. The fish oils are retained while smoking and alter the taste while being smoked, thus making it a glamorous meal for the people.
There are many combinations of smoking to choose from when smoking Alaskan Salmon. Things which are considered in the smoking process are the temperatures, and the type of cure to be used. Cold smoking gives a lighter smoked taste, but offer more of the natural flavor of the Salmon, while hot smoking produces a much more smokier taste.
Different woods give different flavors. The best smokers will blend different species to give just the right result. Alder wood gives one taste, apple another, and cedar a third. The length of time the fish is smoked affects the flavor, as does the cure before smoking. Wet cure means the meat is soaked in a brine solution that contains salt, pepper, sugar and spices. Veteran smokers often keep their precise recipe a secret. Dry cure, a combination of sea salt, sugar and aromatic herbs or fruit, is more commonly used to produce cured but not smoked fish.
The actual smoking process varies as well. Hot-smoking produces a stronger smoke flavor and a drier fish. Cold-smoking will result in a gentler smoke flavor and a softer or oilier texture. The species of salmon will also affect the flavor. There are five different species of salmon in Alaskan waters, each with a different taste.
Today, people can find salmon on their local grocery store shelves, but this variety is typically farm raised and cold smoked. For any connoisseur, however, Alaskan Smoked Salmon is the best bet. The taste of Alaskan Salmon is comparable to fine wine when its properly smoked and cured correctly.

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