THE PERFECT CURE
Hot or cold, fish smoked the traditional way is hard to beat, writes Steve Manfredi.
Smoking fish is a method of preserving that is almost as old as civilisation. While we have no problem keeping food fresh these days with modern refrigerators and freezers, the taste of properly preserved, smoked fish is an exotic delicacy.
I added ”properly preserved” because there are modern, industrial short cuts in the smoking process that are cost-effective but don’t come close to the real thing.
There are two main ways of smoking fish: cold and hot.
Cold smoking involves curing the fish first, usually using salt only or a combination of salt and sugar. The fish fillets are left in contact with the cure for a few hours, then washed and put into a smoking chamber separate from the smoke-generating heat source.
The cold smoke is fed into the chamber via a pipe for an extended period. The fish is cured rather than cooked.
Hot smoking can begin with curing but it’s not necessary. The fish fillets are hung in a smoking chamber that also contains the source of heat and smoke. This is a quicker method but it’s important to control the temperature and time ratio.
Cold-smoked fish is used at room temperature, while the hot-smoked can be cooked, but only a little.
SPAGHETTINI WITH HOT-SMOKED SALMON AND VEGETABLES
This dish calls for hot-smoked salmon, but hot-smoked river trout, kingfish or mackerel can be used instead. It could also be interesting with smoked mussels or oysters.
Tear smoked salmon into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Wash and dry vegetables. Cut zucchini, carrot and leek into fine julienne. Heat olive oil in a pan and lightly fry julienned vegetables for 1 minute until they’re soft. Add cherry tomatoes and white wine. Simmer for 2 minutes more. Add salmon pieces and parsley, season to taste and stir well. Cook spaghettini ”al dente”, drain and toss with salmon and vegetable sauce. Divide onto plates and serve immediately.
Serves 6 as a first course
Wine Lightly wooded chardonnay
SMOKED SALMON, ORANGE AND RADISH SALAD
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
Simmer juice until reduced to 3 tbsp. Make vinaigrette by whisking together reduced juice, vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste. Cut off top and bottom of oranges. Stand orange and cut away peel and pith in wide strips. Cut between the membranes to release segments. Squeeze juice from membranes over segments. Place endive in a bowl with herbs, lightly dress with vinaigrette, add radish slices, season and toss. Arrange three salmon slices in centre of four plates and drizzle with a little olive oil and orange juice. Mound salad in centre and arrange orange segments around.
Serves 4 as a first course
Wine Gruner veltliner