You know that feeling when you get to Monday morning and you think, where did the weekend go? I am sure I am not alone in feeling this at times, and as part of my New Year resolution for 2014 I want to try something new each weekend. I am hoping that this way there will be a stand out something for as many weekends as possible, making the weekends seem more productive and therefore slightly longer.
My focus over the last few weekends has been on slow food. There have been chefs both the celebrity type and the not so, who have been proclaiming this as a movement for a good number of years. I think really its just more about giving good, but not necessarily expensive, ingredients a little bit of time and care to turn them into something potentially more valuable and delicious.
The first thing on my to do list within this was to make my own smoked salmon. This, I will admit was prompted more by seeing a half side of Scottish salmon in Tesco for just £13. It is something I have wanted to try for a while and with the raw ingredient at a good price it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
After a good look through the internet I found that really the simplest recipe was just to dry cure the salmon, once rinsed in cold water and patted dry, in a 50/50 mix of salt and sugar. You can add flavourings such as dill or crushed fennel seeds to the cure but I kept things really simple for the first trial. I measured out a half cup of salt and the same of sugar and this seemed to be enough to properly cover the salmon all the way around without there being too much left over. I placed the salmon in a dish and covered it with cling film and into the fridge.
The most confusing information I found was on how long to cure the fish for. This ranged from 1/2 hour right up to 2-3 days. I left the cure on the salmon for 1 1/2 hours and in hind-sight I could have left it on for 2 hours happily as the finished product was salted but not as salty as I like. After the cure was done I rinsed the fish under cold water, patted it dry with kitchen paper and placed it on a cooling rack in the fridge overnight. This, so the internet said, is to create a slightly sticky coating on the fish which helps the smoke stick to it.
The following morning I pulled out the Pro Q cold smoking tray we have. If you are interested in cold smoking food the £35 investment is very well worth it as we have used it countless times for other things, garlic and cheese being two of the most successful. I put a couple of bits of string through the thickest part of the fillet to hang the fish over the smoke, started the tray off and left it in our smoking bin for the day. Its a good time of year to be doing this as its still nice and cold all day which keeps the smoke and the fish cool. Once smoked for the day, I cut the string loops off and put the salmon into a freezer bag and into the fridge. This allows the fish to absorb the smoke flavours.
24 hours later and the fish was ready to eat and it really was delicious. Such a huge quantity of home smoked salmon was well worth the small amount of work and the 48 hours of leaving it alone to do its thing. It brings slow food into a real perspective when you can thinly slice your very own smoked salmon and have with poached eggs for a Sunday breakfast. So I encourage you to give it a go and join the slow food crew or maybe just try it as something for the weekend 😉