Smoked Salmon is a delicacy that our ancient ancestors enjoyed. Smoking food was likely used to preserve food since the Palaeolithic era, some 400,000 years ago. Our ancestors would have discovered that the act of smoking preserves the meat for much longer than when it’s merely cooked. Over generations, centuries, aeons, our ancestors would have appreciated that they could not only preserve their food with smoking, they could also refine and enhance the taste. When they smoked the fish with specific woods, it added different flavours and properties. Today, we no longer need to smoke food to preserve it. We do it for its exceptional taste.
Smoked Salmon: How We Do It
We inherited the age-old Irish smoking traditions, and over the past fifty-five years, we’ve honed our understanding of it and improved upon it. Ronan Quinlan is our master smoker. He oversees every aspect of the process, starting with selecting the catch to be filleted and prepared for salting. Using dry sea salt, he cures the salmon for about three to five hours, helping to preserve it while adding flavour. To add nuance, Ronan may also add Dill during the salt-curing process.
Cold Smoking: The Traditional Method
We produce Cold-Smoked Salmon using oak wood smoke. This has been the preferred method in Ireland for centuries. With cold smoking, no heat is applied to the fish. Instead, the salting process and the smoke itself cures the meat. Smoking takes place over the course of about ten to fourteen hours to bring out that unmistakable, intricate flavour.
We use no modern additives: just salt, oak smoke, a bit of patience and a keen eye. After smoking, we hand slice and vacuum pack the fillets. The vacuum packing, natural smoking and modern refrigeration combine. And what this means is that our smoked salmon can easily handle a two-day shipping trip without affecting its quality or taste. And it can last for up to four weeks in the fridge (kept at a temperature between 3—0°C). This is how our traditional smoked fish can be enjoyed by appreciative gourmet customers. Not just across our own country, but across the Atlantic and throughout Europe and the US. A fair warning: once you’ve had the chance to appreciate our traditional, natural smoking techniques, you’ll never want to go back to the regular products you find on the shelves.