Vernal Anticipations

Spring is coming, and to celebrate I smoked a salmon! This time, I used quick cure (the kind I make bacon with – the one with sodium nitrate) instead of plain salt for the brine.

Few fish preparations are as tasty as Nova Lox – brined, cold-smoked salmon. On a bagel. It’s also something that can be closely replicated at home! I don’t technically cold-smoke, since I don’t have that equipment and don’t want to rig something up. Cold-smoking is technically done around 80 degrees, but you can’t generate smoke at that temp so you have to create hot smoke and then cool it before it touches the fish.

Or, you can smoke at a temperature just high enough – say 150 – on very cold fish that’s only barely fully thawed. Combined with the brine, it’s juicy and salty, and the sodium nitrate preserves the bright orange-pink color. Cooked to an internal temperature of 130 (I deep-froze it to -40 beforehand to make it safe for “raw” consumption), then cooled, it’s a damn close facsimile to true Lox. It made for a nice faux-spring day.


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