Non-Refrigerated Smoked Salmon
I got a box of this from my mom. Anyone know anything about it? What is it cured with so that it doesn't need refrigeration? Why so cheap?
It's not so much the curing, but the packaging that eliminates the need for refrigeration. I expect the salmon to be packed in a sealed foil/mylar package (such as used on shelf stable boil in the bag Tastee-bite meals).
$15/lb may be cheap compared to other fancy-package versions, but not that different from prices at Seattle area grocery store fish counters.
The fish may or may not be cured prior to smoking (doesn't it say so on the package?) but smoking is the curing agent in any case. They use a cold smoking process - that is, no direct heat applied to the fish - and whatever chemical changes take place helps to preserve it. It's how many older cultures preserved perishable foods long before refrigeration.
In the Pacific NW most salmon was smoked dried, but in certain inland river valleys, hot August winds made it possible to dry fish without smoke. Wind dried salmon had a different name and taste, and was an important item in inter-tribal trading. You can see blue-tarp drying shelters around the town of Lillooet, BC on the Fraser River.
It's basically canned fish. Okay, not a can, a mylar (?) pouch. But it's the same idea. So shelf life is comparable to Chicken of the Sea without the need for any preservatives.
Basically, the processor smokes the fish, seals it in a pouch, then heats the pouch in a retort to kill all the bugs inside. Lox it ain't; this fish is fully cooked. And it's not like "squaw candy," either; it's moist to the point that there's a bunch of liquid in the pouch. (As an aside, surely there's a less offensive name for hot-smoked salmon that has been completely dried so that it can be stored without refrigeration. Anybody?)
I'm not particularly fond of the stuff, but it's not terrible. Be sure to let the fillet sit for half an hour or so after you open the pouch; exposure to the air does something to improve the flavor and texture. Oh, and lock the cat out of the house during the resting process; felines love this type of salmon unreservedly.
jfood was in Alaska two summer ago and bought some smoked salmon that looked like this. He transported it back to CT and was looking forward to some thin slices on a bagel. Nope!
When he opend the foil packages it was a thick piece of salmon and there was no way to slice it thin. The only he could do with it was crumble it into pasta.
Jfood thinks the description of a flexible canned product is probably a lot closer to the real thing than thinly sliced novey or smoked salmon with some capers, egg and onion on some black bread.
Just a head's up.
I can't vouch for the product you displayed, however, the Sea Bear variety is okay. You can find it in gourmet food stores or at TJ Maxx and Marshall discount chains as well. the latter two sell it at a sharp discount. They make a salmon chowder that is very nice and I usually add milk, cream, salt, and pepper and it makes a wonderful snack.