Salmon and smoke have been an illustrious combination for centuries. Along the Northwest coastline of the United States, salmon are revered and were a main food source for our predecessors. Their spawning and migration patterns from river to sea were carefully observed in hopes of catching a bounty to provide nutrient rich food throughout winter. Their relationship to the woods and people were intrinsic and often mystical. Of this, one of the most recognizable food flavors in the world was born, that of salmon and smoke. At The Kitchen, our second course “Salmon and Smoke” on the October 2015 menu revolves around this duo.
Smoked fish has been popular in many cultures across the world as a way to preserve food for the long cold months of winter. Fresh fish would be harvested, salted then placed in a smoke house for a long period of time. The smoke would give the fish flavor while cooking it, eliminating any food pathogens. The process of smoking fish is generally the same across cultures, though the type of fish and wood used in the smoking process vary by region. In North America, smoked salmon reigns as king.
For our “Salmon and Smoke” course, fresh Pacific Steelhead is roasted over maple wood planks, injecting a subtle sweet and smoky flavor into the fish reminiscent of traditional smoking methods. Steelhead is considered a “sea going” rainbow trout very similar to salmon. They share the same tender and delicate pink flakes though Steelhead is milder in flavor. This makes it the perfect candidate to take on the wonderful characteristics of the maple wood. The dish is served smoldering alongside wonderfully rich fall produce of Brussels sprouts and persimmons. Each bite is a reminder of the times when the scent of fish smoking in the cool air provided hope for winter.