Cough, cough, splutter, cough…….. Wheeeze, cough, cough, wheeeeezzeeee. Yes. That was me every morning. I used to be a very heavy smoker. Not that I have ever been ‘very heavy’ in the weighing scales sense. Nor in the deep thinking department either. That would have made me a very heavy, smoker. In plain language, I used to smoke a lot. An awful lot…
When I was in secondary school, we 5th and 6th years (16 to 18 year olds) had our own smoking room. At break time, we would cram ourselves into the small unfurnished chamber and drag the guts out of a couple of Major or Rothmans before returning to our youthful education. After school and college, in my early days in the advertising workforce, I was a 60 a day man.
I quit a number of times but was dragged back (pun intended) almost as often as I stubbed out the habit (that one too). I eventually got sense and gave them up for good. The day after my last cigarette, I sat on my bed and cried. I wept like a baby for “just one more”. Strangely, that gave me the inner strength to finally decide that I would never, ever smoke again.
That was over a quarter of a century ago and I am now about to break that tearful, youthful resolution.
“Don’t do it” I hear you cry. But, I’m not that daft, really. I am going to smoke. But, I am going to prepare Hot Smoked Salmon in my new smoker, just arrived after internet ordering from the comfort of the couch. I got the impetus to order the smoker from Stefan over at Stefan Gourmet, following our excellent visit to Stefan in Amsterdam earlier this year.
The first thing to do is to chop the onion and garlic.
Next I made my brine. I used a few spoons of salt in the water, stirring it in until it would not dissolve any more.
Then I added a few spoons of muscovado sugar.
When most of the sugar was stirred in, I poured it into a non-metallic dish. You will forgive me using two pouring shots here, I know.
Next we add the onion, bay leaf, garlic and black pepper. Then we gently immerse the salmon in the mixture.
I left the salmon in the brine for six hours. I took it out and pated it dry. Then I placed it on a rack in the oven and turned on the fan. I left it in there for two hours, air drying without heat. This allows a sheen called a pellicle to form on the fish. This is essential for flavour.
Then the salmon was added and the burners were lit.
Twenty five minutes in the smoker and we ended up with this beautiful salmon.
I served it with some salad ingredients including the potato and chive salad made with my thrice beaten mayonaise.
More smoked treats to follow as I get the hang of different ingredients. This must be the first time that a family was happy to see one taking up smoking.