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Smoked Salmon


marigoldsandy
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I am searching for quality smoked salmon as a Christmas gift this year. I bought some at the Native American Smithsonian Museum Store -- Quinault Nation. It was really expensive, I think I got six ounces for $65. It comes in a nice decorative wooden box. After calls to Whole Foods, Blacksalt and River Falls Seafood I'm second guessing myself. I tried to get more information about how the fish is preserved in a box kept at room temperature and got rather ambiguous answers from the SI staff. In retrospect I think museums are probably not a great place to make food purchases. I called the company who made the salmon, Quinault Pride Seafood Products. Both their website and phone are down.

Whole Foods sells a 16 oz. Smoked Salmon Trio Gift Box for $28.99. Similarly this box is at room temperature.

Blacksalt said they didn't carry any smoked salmon other than cold-smoked variety which remains chilled until served.

The wonderfully helpful folks at River Falls shed a bit more light on the matter for me. They sell only cold-smoked salmon. I was told that there are two methods of smoking salmon, cold smoked and hot smoked. He said that salmon that is hot-smoked can be kept at room temperature while cold smoked salmon must be kept cool. He explained more about the process, something involved a salt brine. He said that the texture and taste is quite different between the two methods. I asked him if hot-smoked salmon is nice on crackers with a bit of spread and I think he said that it is more commonly served as an entree and that the pieces come off as hunks rather than the delicate slivers of cold-smoked salmon. River Falls said if I wanted hot-smoked salmon to check at outdoor stores and Williams-Sonoma type places.

I've never had hot-smoked salmon and I'm wondering if it is something that I want to give as a gift, also if I got taken for a ride by paying $65 for a six ounce portion. If cold-smoked salmon is the way to go I can make arrangements to pick some up just before the gift giving begins.

I very much appreciate any help you all are able to offer.

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While I can't help you with a source for gift-boxed salmon, I will volunteer that if you're looking to experience a variety of smoked salmon types before narrowing down a choice, the best selection I've encountered is in north Baltimore, at Greg's Bagels. Greg's usually has something like 15-20 different types of smoked salmon on hand, from commonplace sliced nova to Scandinavian salmon to wild-caught custom-smoked hand-chipped Alaskan. An ex-newspaperman, Greg will also talk your ear off if you let him. The bagels are good, and among my friends it's our go-to place when catching a flick at the Senator Theater, just around the corner.

ETA: Greg does seem to have some nice things to say about the supplier of his New Brunswick cold-smoked salmon. However their Christmas order deadline passed on the 12th.

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I have been given a box of smoked salmon before. As was explained to you, this is cooked salmon and is flaky, just as if you had cooked a fresh piece of salmon yourself. I'm not particularly enamored of it, although I am sure others would disagree with that. If you want to give cold-smoked salmon, you will have to keep it cold all the time. You can find this stuff in boxes in the refrigerator section of any supermarket. As an idea, you could pack this in a styrofoam box, along with a jar of capers and some creme fraiche or sour cream, and whatever else you think might be good. Add some ice and tie a ribbon around the whole thing and deliver it post haste.

The very best smoked salmon is found in delis and better markets and sliced to order, IMHO. Wrapping it and keeping it cold for presentation becomes a problem.

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I am searching for quality smoked salmon as a Christmas gift this year. I bought some at the Native American Smithsonian Museum Store -- Quinault Nation. It was really expensive, I think I got six ounces for $65. It comes in a nice decorative wooden box. After calls to Whole Foods, Blacksalt and River Falls Seafood I'm second guessing myself. I tried to get more information about how the fish is preserved in a box kept at room temperature and got rather ambiguous answers from the SI staff. In retrospect I think museums are probably not a great place to make food purchases. I called the company who made the salmon, Quinault Pride Seafood Products. Both their website and phone are down.
The items sold in the National Museum of the American Indian are made by people living traditional lifestyles, so the salmon you purchased was preserved using a traditional method, and the money went directly to their community. Which are Good Things.

Quinault smoked salmon is a delicacy.

Not the same thing at all as cold smoked Atlantic salmon, which is silky and supple in texture. The texture of hot smoked salmon is flaky and the flavor is very smoky. Maybe too chewy for bagels. One well liked recipe is to use it in an omelette.

Or, flake it and mix with cream cheese, chopped dill and chopped green onions, as a spread for bagels. Yum.

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The items sold in the National Museum of the American Indian are made by people living traditional lifestyles, so the salmon you purchased was preserved using a traditional method, and the money went directly to their community. Which are Good Things.

Quinault smoked salmon is a delicacy.

Not the same thing at all as cold smoked Atlantic salmon, which is silky and supple in texture. The texture of hot smoked salmon is flaky and the flavor is very smoky. Maybe too chewy for bagels. One well liked recipe is to use it in an omelette.

Or, flake it and mix with cream cheese, chopped dill and chopped green onions, as a spread for bagels. Yum.

As it is something very unique and very expensive, it ought to be the featured attraction and doled out in small quantities. Since hot smoked salmon can tend to be somewhat dry, plan to serve it on small rounds of buttered baguette with a dollop of creme fraiche, a drop of lemon juice, a caper or two and/or a tiny sprig of fresh dill. And a sparkling wine or iced vodka.

If you are giving it as a gift, type up serving instructions and include them with the salmon.

When I worked at BlackSalt, they were experimenting with hot-smoking salmon. I guess they gave up on it. It was made into smoked salmon cakes, similar to their crabcakes, and sold to be taken home and browned in a pan. Hot smoked salmon makes fabulous salmon croquettes, but the Quinault salmon sounds too special to use for that.

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Costco has several types of smoked salmon. Their house brand is a very good value for the price. They also sell a Scottish brand that is excellent. I am not sure of the prices off hand, other then they are low compared to others. Trader Joe's has several brands, while good, do not compare (IMHO) to the costco brands. I also use to get smoked salmon from Gourmet Giant, which carried several brands, but alas they are no more. Might want to check wegmans.

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