Last week our blog gave you a behind the scenes look at our caviar room here at Browne. We showed you how our caviar experts receive, grade, and pack your caviar to order.
In this post, we are going to examine another fascinating area of Browne’s operation: our boutique smoke room. In particular, we are going to focus on how we “cold smoke” our selections.
If you are interested in sampling some of our delicious smoked salmon click here! For a full list of our smoked line scroll to the bottom of this page.
Smoking Seafood at Browne Trading
For centuries, fishermen across the world utilized smoke to preserve the excess catch that could not be consumed fresh. While this was done under much more primitive conditions, the fundamental steps and formulas of the process remain virtually unchanged.
Today we harness this process to greatly enhance the texture and flavor of our selections.
Over the years Browne has refined our process to ensure the finest possible smoked fish available.
Our smoked seafood, cold or hot, is completely natural and free of any artificial preservatives!
The Difference Between Cold & Hot Smoking
There are a couple of significant differences between cold and hot smoking.
For cold smoking, the product stays below 90 F for 6 hours to achieve a delicate and lightly cured smoked taste. With a hot smoke, the product is smoked for 30 min at a higher temperature, giving a smoky flavor .
When our seafood is hot smoked the product is held in the same chamber as the burning wood. During a cold smoke, the product is placed in an unheated chamber which is then filled with smoke.
Curing the Seafood
The most commonly used methods are a dry cure or brining (liquid) At Browne, we apply our cure by hand in a dry rub:
Curing is used to draw out the moisture and is primarily salt. Other types of cure include:
- maple syrup
The salt of the cure draws out the moisture within the fish. This firms the texture and imparts a deeper flavor.
The fattier the fish, the less moisture will be drawn which prevents it from drying out too much – hence salmon’s great popularity.
Once the cure has been applied, the fillets are placed on racks to cure for a minimum of 21 hours in refrigeration. Before going into the smoker, the salt/sugar cure is rinsed off and the product is left to air dry on racks.
“Cold smoking” occurs when the ambient temperature is LOWER than 90 degrees F.
At Browne, in our professional smoker, or kiln, we keep ours at an optimal 78 degrees F. While smoking periods vary, generally we keep it to around 6 hours per batch.
Key to the process is the type of wood used (actually chips, which are more of the consistency of sawdust – allowed to smolder slowly, so the aromatics of the wood oils are released).
Hardwoods are favored, and fruitwoods preferred – Hickory Applewood in particular – and at these low temperatures create a mild “cool smoke” that naturally enhances the flavor of the cured fish.
At Browne, our smoker produces only about 120 fillets per batch, making it a true artisanal production.
Slicing & Packaging
Once the fillets have gone through the smoking processes, they are cooled on racks for over 40 hours.
When ready for slicing, the skin is removed, and each fillet is hand-fed through our custom slicer.
From there, the slices are portioned, placed on our custom packaging, and then individually cryovaced, labeled, and ready for sale or shipment.
Salmon remains the most popular smoked fish in modern cuisine (although mackerel, trout, sablefish, and sturgeon remain favorites in most countries).
Part of the appeal of the salmon for smoking stems from its fantastic fat content which gives it a rich flavor along with its flesh structure which is naturally flaky.
Our Atlantic Farm Raised Salmon is perfect for smoking because they are fed a stable, nutritious diet & harvested at a fixed maturity.
Because of the consistent quality of our salmon, they always have a perfect fat structure for our smoking process.
Cold smoking salmon, fundamentally, is a simple – albeit time-consuming – process. At Browne, from the preparation to the final packaging, our smoked salmon varieties take days to make per batch.
It consists of the traditional stages; preparing the fish, curing, smoking, and slicing and packaging.