If you are like us, then there is sometimes nothing better for breakfast than a bagel and smoked salmon. Smoked salmon at the store always seems high priced for a small packet and so this becomes a once-in-a-while indulgence.
So do we go through life munching down on a plain bagel and some cream cheese or is there another way? We have found that we can buy a side of salmon at #ALDI (the discount German store) and then cure the salmon ourselves…and… it is amazing!
Over here in the U.S., smoked salmon is often referred to as lox. Although lox is technically salt-cured or brined; never smoked and the word comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, lax.
Back over the pond in the U.K, it’s always smoked salmon. This style of preserving salmon was probably not seen in Britain as an accompaniment to the Jewish bagel. It was considered a luxury food. Eastern European Jewish immigrants (escaping the Pogroms) were most likely the ones who bought it to the British Isles but it was the wealthy royalty and aristocrats who consumed it.
Before the smoking process, the salmon needs to cure. For this, you simply mix 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/3 cup of salt. Add whatever aromatics you wish. It is the start of fall and so the dill fronds are long gone but the dill seeds, flowers, and chopped up stalks add a delicate anise flavor. Coriander seeds picked from the fields at the Charlotte Julienne farm, a couple of bay leaves, a few white peppercorns, thyme, and the zest of one lemon – we use a peeler and not a microplane.
Remove the salmon from the fridge, place skin side up on a chopping board. With a sharp knife score the skin then rub it all over with the cure. Place in a vacuum bag (a zipper bag will also work) with any remaining cure then remove all the air, seal, and place in the fridge for 24 hours. Turn the salmon each time you are passing the fridge.
The curing can also be done with brine but we like this method as it develops its own brine in the bag from the water in the fish.
Once the curing is complete, remove the salmon from its bag and rinse under very cold running water to remove the salt and cure. Place on a cooling rack over a tray and return to the fridge for a few hours until the flesh becomes tacky. This is known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a role in producing better smoked products as it acts as a protective barrier for the food and also plays a role in enhancing the flavor and color produced by the smoke.
In a smoker or BBQ Grill (we use this and it is just as good) start some wood chips smoldering the place the salmon in the smoky box for about an hour. The smoke vapors kiss the salmon and create a lovely flavor without actually cooking the fish.
Now, all that is left to do is to slice thin wafers of oily, fragrant salmon to place on top of your bagel with cream cheese. As the perfect accompaniment add a runny poached egg with a few fresh chives.
The perfect breakfast and now it will no longer be only seen as a luxury.
We slice, portion, and vacuum pack what is left then freeze it. This way we always have it on hand for a delicious bagel, a sumptuous omelet, or a light lunchtime pasta.