Where There's Smoke, There's Flavor

Salmon's firm, meaty texture and high oil content make it ideal for smoking.
Text by Jennifer Martinkus

Smoked salmon, whether cold- or hot-smoked, adds instant flavor to your favorite meals. Noted for its silken, buttery texture, cold-smoked salmon resembles sashimi, with a subtle, somewhat salty taste. Often labeled "lox" or "Nova-style," the thin slices appear richly colored and translucent.

Flavor comes from a lengthy curing process: Fillets are covered with a wet brine or dry rub for several days, then smoked using a low-and-slow technique―at 90 degrees for as long as three weeks. Because the fish isn't fully cooked, it is perishable and must be refrigerated. It's best served cold or slightly heated, and is often treated as a flavorful garnish.

By contrast, hot-smoked salmon has a firm texture and opaque flesh that breaks into thick pieces, yet remains moist and oily. It cures in less time, most often in a brine solution. The salmon also smokes at a higher temperature (about 150 degrees) but only for about 12 hours. The flavor intensity depends on the processor, but hot-smoked salmon is generally more complex and less salty than cold-smoked. Fully cooked and shelf stable, it often shows up in stores in decorative gift boxes.

Try smoked salmon in soups and egg dishes, or toss with salad greens for robust flavor. Just remember: A little goes a long way. Start with small morsels, and add more according to taste.

Creamy Smoked Salmon-Scrambled Eggs over Asiago Potato Pancakes

Asiago Potato Pancakes

Smoked Salmon Benedict

Shallot-Thyme Hollandaise

Peppered Three-Onion Tart with Smoked Salmon

The Case for Wine
Aside from his duties as CEO and president of Carnival Cruise Lines, Bob Dickinson pursues his passion for wine. Evidence? His wine cellar contains more than 22,000 bottles, making it one of the country's largest private collections. As founder of the Presidential Wine Club, Bob insists that good wine be fun and accessible. Celebrate a holiday brunch with Bob's recommendations below.

Creamy Smoked Salmon-Scrambled Eggs over Asiago Potato Pancakes
Chardonnay or any bone-dry Spanish white

Smoked Salmon Benedict
Dry Spanish Cava (sparkling wine)

Peppered Three-Onion Tart with Smoked Salmon
J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay, Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay, or Kongsgaard Chardonnay