Saturday, June 25, 2011

Smokin' Hot (or cold) !

No, not the weather you silly goose!  While out for an afternoon stroll my husband and I came across a Little Chief Smoker for an awesome-just-couldn't-refuse price; we've been looking at getting a smoker for a while but just didn't want to shell out the $150 for the one I really wanted.  In the meantime, this one will certainly do!  It's an electric model with four racks and an insulating jacket, I think the only thing this model is missing is a thermostat, but I found an external monitor left over from some beer making, so I think I'm in business!

My first project is to smoke some salmon.  On our way home we found some exceptionally fresh whole Copper River sockeye for $5.99/#.  Crazy- it was cheaper than the regular sockeye...and I figured with the higher fat content, I simply couldn't go wrong.  Below you will find the standard CIA salmon cure with basic instructions on how to get started with smoking fish.  This cure is a little sweeter than I usually care for, but it is a great starting point.

Smoked Salmon Cure- for 3# salmon fillet, skin on

8 oz salt
4 oz sugar
4 g onion powder
1.5 g ground cloves
1.5 g crushed bay leaves
1.5 g ground mace
1.5 g ground allspice

  • Remove the pin bones and place the salmon skin side down in a pan with high sides.  Pack the cure ingredients onto the flesh of the salmon, putting a bit less as the fillet gets thin near the tail end.  Wrap loosely and cure the salmon under refrigeration for 12-24 hours.  Rinse off the cure with cool water and blot dry with paper towels.
  • Lay flat on a rack and allow to air dry overnight in the refrigerator (I cheat by placing the fillet in a cool place and running a fan onto it).  This is an incredibly important step as it forms the pellicle- a tacky dry skin that develops on top of the cured item that not only protects as the item is being smoked, but helps to capture the smokey flavor.  
    • After you have a sufficient pellicle formed (the fish should feel almost dry), for a tender lox-like texture, cold smoke the fish for 4-6 hours at 100F or less.  Smoked salmon, wrapped well, will keep for one week in the refrigerator. 
     Or, you can eat it right away, on a freshly baked bialy with capers, red onion, lemon, cream cheese and some leaves of parsley.  Yum!  The recipe for bialys will be another story for another day...

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      A Warm Welcome to Summer

      For those of you who also live in the Northwest, I think you can agree, it's about time!  After trudging through the coldest spring ever (well, not really, but you know what I mean) this sunny day was more than appreciated, and it was fitting that it's the solstice.  As an ode to the coming season and the ripe pineapple I had on the counter, this is what I fixed for dinner:
      I topped some white rice and black beans with prawns that had been tossed lightly with some olive oil, aleppo pepper, and curry powder, then grilled.  To give the meal a Caribbean twist, I made a simple salsa of diced pineapple, brunoise of sweet pepper, lime juice and cilantro.  Tasty!