Tag Archives: Skye Gyngell

I need a smoke (pt2)

Smoked salmon, lemon mayo and limey-minty-cucumbery salad

So it’s not wild salmon season yet.  Right.  I was so excited about the smoking portion of the experiment that I did not think of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get wild salmon at this time of year (what goodness is there in life before May?).  I wanted the rich flavour you get from wild salmon so ended up with frozen (sustainably caught) sockeye  filets.

In the end I couldn’t get the smoking done Friday as I was already squeezed for time (which now  included defrosting).  Since I’d already built up anticipation levels previously reserved for Momofuku‘s arrival in Toronto it seemed best not to rush.  Do it right.  Or screw it up with plenty of time.

So here’s how it went down:

Earl Grey tea, muscovado and caster sugar smoking mixture


8:00 am: mixed the muscovado (dark brown) sugar, caster sugar and Earl Gray tea together.  Handily constructed two little trays from tin foil and divided up the mixture between them.  My estimate of what was “7-8 cm” wide was actually more like 13 cm.  Luckily tin foil is very squashable.

8:43 am  so many things could go wrong. Like that aside from no extractor hood, I don’t have a “tight-fitting lid” for my smoking dish.  Am going with the heavy-duty tinfoil.  Like duct tape in the cooking world, right?

Sockeye Salmon ready for a smoke

8:45  unplugged smoke detector and opened all the windows.  Put salmon on rack in roasting pan.  Covered the roasting pan and put it across two burners over med-high.  Stood there watching it.  Nothing happened.

8:55 10 minutes later the smell of caramelizing sugar and bergamot from the tea was wafting through the kitchen.  It was really lovely and mellow–I almost closed the windows to seal it in. (I could totally see “tea-smoked ” as a Body Shop perfume)

8:58  Conundrum. The recipe is broken into two parts: the general “how to” tea smoke section and then the recipe for the salmon specifically. In the salmon recipe it says to leave the salmon smoking for 3 minutes with the heat on and then turn off the heat and leave it another 3-4 minutes. Yet, as the “how to” instructions mentioned, it took about 10 minutes for the smoke to get going and begin infusing the fish.  So I was a bit confused–do the 3 minutes start after the 10 minutes?

I ended up doing two batches so as not to crowd the pan.  The first one which I left the initial 10 minutes (then 3 minutes on heat, 3 minutes off) was a bit overdone for my taste and I kicked myself for not checking it sooner.  The second round I actually put in right after I took out the first batch, heat was off, I quickly put the cover (foil) back on and left it five minutes.  Checked it and let it cook a little more, til tender and flaky.  Much better results.

Salmon under smoke tent-Round 2

The “being smoked out of house and home”  I was so prepared for never transpired.  In fact, all went very smoothly.  I admit, slightly disappointing.   I thought this post would be more dramatic with at least one neighbor coming over to see if we were OK.

I removed the salmon and let it cool.  The smoky tea flavour was there,  subtle and delicate–the wild salmon itself was amazing.

I will do this again and next time I think I will try letting the smoking pan heat up for 10 minutes before I add the salmon so that the fish is really being “smoked” rather than just cooked from the initial  trapped heat.

I served the salmon flaked and made lemon mayonnaise to go with it and an amazingly fresh, lime/mint/cilantro cucumber salad (Skye Gyngell’s recipe again).  Plus baguette.

(I kept a piece of salmon whole for the top photo.)

***Next time I promise kitchen disaster it will be bad, very bad.  I will make up for this.

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Prepare to be smoked, Mr. Salmon

Smokin' Earl Grey-hoping not to inhale

Dinner Party this Saturday, April 2.

Have decided to tea-smoke salmon.  Partly because I have been dying to try it for years.  And partly because saying to my guests, “Oh, the salmon?  I just tea-smoked it.” seems so satisfying.  Even as I  say it to myself in my head it sounds good.  I imagine myself replying, “My you’re a talented cook!” Then I wink at myself, “Also,  your hair has great volume!”

Anyway, the recipe is from Skye Gyngell’s first cookbook “A Year in my Kitchen”.  And tea smoking is a technique the chef likes to use for oily fish (like trout, mackerel or wild salmon).  Essentially you need a baking vessel with a lid, a cooling rack, some ramekins (to balance the rack on) and a few tinfoil cups to put the tea –which you mix with sugar– in.  Then you place your fish on the rack, tea underneath, cover the fish and heat the whole thing over med-high on top of the stove, over two burners.

Not so hard, right?  But wait…more than once the words “extractor fan” are mentioned in this process.  I have no stove hood, no extractor fan but I do have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, though I am not sure how that helps me if I’m dying of smoke inhalation.  At least when the firemen check the house they’ll be able to say, “yep, she had a fire extinguisher, too bad there wasn’t a fire–also, the salmon’s ready.”

Ah well, I’m being pessimistic, I can’t say for sure there won’t be a fire.

I’ll keep you posted.  I’m going to smoke the salmon Friday.  That way the dinner guests can make other plans if things should go awry.  No one can say I’m not a thoughtful hostess.


Filed under All Recipes, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible