One of my earliest memories of fine food was when my aunt and uncle (Bea and Duke Chapman) flew our family over to England when I was about 8 or 9 years old. We stayed for about 2 weeks and saw all the sights of London where they were living at that time. My uncle traveled the world and enjoyed eating fine food. Even though I don't think they know or knew that I really credit them both for playing a major role in cultivating my passion for fine food. They took us places we would have never gone to and experience food we had never had before. I clearly remember that London was the first place where I tried smoke salmon with capers and toast. It just melted in my mouth and the strong flavor of smoked I immediately fell in love with. I just remember that so well and remember the flavors so distinctly.
Since then I have had smoked salmon in many place but nothing compares to fresh in house smoked salmon. The smoked salmon that you buy at the store is good. And if you have never had home made or fresh smoked salmon then you really don't have anything to compare it to. But I encourage you to try this recipe because the difference is enormous. It is a few day process so it does take a little patience but the reward is definitely worth the wait. It truly is easy to do at home. Again you just have to be prepared a few days in advance before you want to serve this. I used Copper River salmon because for one, it is in season and the season only last about a month or so between end of May and June.
1 whole fillet of Copper River Salmon deboned
2 1/2 cup of koshar salt
2 1/2 cup of sugar
1 lemon zested
3 tbsp of red peppercorns crushed
3 sprigs of lavender
1 cup of mayo (or veganise)
3 tbsp of prepared horseradish
1 lemon juiced
2 tbsp of soft cream cheese
First thing to do is to buy the freshest salmon you can find. Make sure the whole fillet is cleaned and trimmed of any fat and bones. Then spread the zest, peppercorns, and lavender all over the fillet.
Then in a bowl mix sugar and salt. Start to cover the salmon
Cover the Salmon fillet completely with the salt and sugar mixture.
Let that cure for a day in the refrigerator (If you have another refrigerator you might want to use this because your refrigerator will smell like smoked salmon by the end of this). Then after 24 hours wash the salmon off completely of all the salt and sugar mixture. Pat the salmon dry and let the salmon fillet dry out for 12 hours in the refrigerator. Then the next day prepare your smoker. I used a
with cherry, hickory, and oak wood chips (few pinches of each). When you smoke the salmon because you don't want it to cook, you have to pack the smoker with ice. Place the wood chips on the bottom of your smoker. Then place your rack on top. Fill plastic zip lock bags full of ice ( or ice paks) and place on top of the tray that goes on top of your rack. Place the Salmon fillet on top of the ice. My smoker was too small so I couldn't get my lid on so I just wrapped the smoker in foil. On low heat (because you don't want the salmon to cook) smoke the salmon for about 20 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the salmon stay in the smoker another 20 minutes. Here some people might hang the salmon for few days and let it dry out a little more for preserving it; but essentially you are done from this point. This should last easily a week or two in the refrigerator but I don't think it will because the flavors will be so good that you will eat it up right away. The very ends of the fillet will probably be a little tough and salt so discard the first piece or two.
Prepare the horseradish sauce by place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. I added cream cheese to the mix because without it sometimes the sauce becomes to runny so it holds it all together without changing the flavor too much. ( You can always use sour cream as well)
Then slice the salmon very thinly on an extreme angle to get nice slices of smoked copper river salmon. Serve with horseradish sauce, capers and micro greens for a wonderful snack.