If I had one last will and testament , one last meal before my death by hanging for treason, insurrection and sorcery to incite a new way of thinking and liberation in our fly fishing world that often can’t proverbially “see the forest from the tree”…then my fellow chaps this is it!. It all comes down to this little knosh of true decadent magnificence , this platos pequenos, piscatorial venture into primi piatti/antipasto …or in the world of the Vikings and the Icelandic/Scandinavian Lax aficionados that worshiped Salmo salar and all things marinated and smoked, the true “smørrebrød” of Norse God perfection pictured above. So what I’m really trying to say here folks is that this little bite of epicurean excellence is my favorite food on the planet-bar none!-nothing gets my salivary juices flowing like true Scottish-style smoked salmon. Served by itself with a cold Gewürztraminer, Pouilly-Fume… or shot of cold frozen Icelandic vodka or Aquavit – letting the oaky bourbon/Scotch whiskey casks used in the cold-smoking process speak through the smoked salmon by itself. Garnished with fresh dill, red onion, cornichons and egg, on a thick schmear of Philly Cream Cheese on a New York Bagel, and you have now met God in the highest culinary heights of the deity.
There are many styles of smoked/cured salmon. Scandinavian gravlax is a cure of salt, sugar, dill- maybe aquavit. Nova Lox style is a NYC bagel favorite but is a very salty style . Norwegian is a mild smoke with a tad salty touch. The Irish style is probably the closest style to the Scots since they are Celtic, also the Northern England styles. But the Scottish style is pure royalty! It’s a cold -smoked, brick-oven kiln style with sides hung traditionally (Santa Barbara uses one of the few brick oven kilns remaining and hangs their salmon in the true Scottish style) This style is unique and the use of oak barrels/wood and cures of whiskey/rum and various rubs of intricate and unique quality makes this product the choice of the gods, coming out smooth as silk, and sweet with that beautiful oaky touch – just like the finest Scotch Whiskey from their highlands. It goes for as much as 80.00-100.00 a pound and to find the best is a search of epicurean passion.
In my corporate food and beverage hotel career I tasted countless brands and visited many smokehouses in the U.K. and North America, including ones in Scandinavia. I had the luxury with one hotel group staying at the Macallan distillery and visiting some tiny boutique smokehouses alongside the River Spey. The Dunkeld Smokehouse on the River Tay in Scotland is one of my favorites and visited it in 2019 when we visited son Peter studying at Edinburgh University and fished the River Tay. I used their product in a very boutique way back in the hotel days since they have been around for 40 years and originally started as a smokery for River Tay salmon fisherman to bring their catch to.
The Brown family of the Santa Barbara Smokery, which is three generations now producing this amazing product, with young entrepreneur and talented Sam Brown who has become a friend now is overseeing the passion. They hail from the Cumbrian district of northern England near the Scottish border on the salmon/sea trout waters of the River Esk- another beauty of immigration and open borders is allowing for the cultural culinary expression we are so gifted with! Back in my hotel days U.K. food was boring as hell, but now with all the immigrants it is a Mecca for culinary masterpieces- yes!, Scotland too!- more than just bloody Haggis.
In the spring issue of Hallowed Waters Journal, we have a very exciting “Super Mayfly Hatches” and “Springer Silver” issue planned. My Epicurean Forger column will focus on the King of all Fish- Salmo salar, the noble Atlantic salmon. We will give you the entire lay-of-the land on Scottish smoked slamon with interviews with Sam Brown and Scottish smoker’s and the story of smoked salmon from ancient times. I will be busy in the kitchen producing some hopefully awesome small plates of unique smoked salmon dishes such as strudels with asparagus and morels, hard smoked dips with artichokes and olives (which SB smokehouse also does a honey roasted hard smoked masterpiece), tacos, salmon lasagna, quesadillas, roulades, terrines and added to more pasta dishes like the current issue. I will also focus on some sustainable land-raised salmon entrée dishes- dont miss this new issue!…come to https://hallowedwaters.com/…the passion and journey for all things Trout/Salmon/Steelhead begin here!