Whiskey Cold Smoked Salmon with Salsify

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If you haven’t decided yet what your appetizer will be for Christmas dinner, this just may be it. You still have time to cure and smoke the salmon. Or you could cheat and buy the smoked salmon, but make sure it is artisan quality.

This dish started when Conor gave me a bottle of Irish whiskey. Or perhaps before that, when he posted about Authentic Irish Whiskey Irish Cold Smoked Irish Salmon. I remember seeing that post and being curious about what the whiskey would do to the smoked salmon. And so when Conor brought me a bottle of good Irish whiskey, how I could resist to try it?

But then I had to thought of a dish to serve it with. The first that came to mind was to serve it with asparagus, but those are well out of season. It was only a small step from asparagus to salsify, the winter version of asparagus. I thought it would be nice to make a dill sauce to go with the salsify and salmon, and decided on a hollandaise with dill (which is the same as a béarnaise with the tarragon replaced with dill).

The whiskey cold smoked salmon turned out great. Next time I will use a bit more whiskey, because its effect was not as pronounced as in the piece of salmon that Conor kindly sent me over from Ireland as a Christmas greeting. It is a good idea to use coarse sea salt, which will make the salmon less salty than fine table salt. Thank you Conor, for the inspiration, salmon, and whiskey that made this all possible. The combination with the salsify and the dill sauce was delicious. Here is what I did…

Ingredients

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For 4 servings

750 grams (1.6 lbs) salsify

400 grams (.9 lbs) cold smoked salmon, from below

For the dill sauce

80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine

75 grams (5 1/2 Tbsp) butter

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp minced fresh dill, stems reserved

1 egg yolk

1 shallot, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme

2 white peppercorns, crushed

salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

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For the salmon

500 grams (1.1 lbs) fresh salmon with skin

250 grams (.55 lbs) coarse sea salt

50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar

2 Tbsp fresh chopped dill

1/2 tsp juniper berries, minced

1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed

2 Tbsp whiskey

cold smoke generator + enough smoking dust to fill it

Preparation

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Combine the ingredients to cure the salmon (salt, sugar, dill, juniper berries, peppercorns) in a bowl.

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Stir to mix.

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Put about half the mixture in a container into which the salmon fits quite snugly.

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Put the salmon on top.

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Cover with the remaining mixture.

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Cover the container and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. The salt will cure the salmon and draw out juices.

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When the curing process has completed, remove the layer of salt.

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Rinse the salmon under cold running water to remove all of the salt. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.

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Brush the salmon with 2 tsp of whiskey. Allow to dry for 3 hours in the refrigerator, then brush on more whiskey. And repeat, for a total of three times of brushing whiskey onto the salmon.

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Fill up a cold smoke generator with sawdust and light it. Put it in a suitable place (a grill with a cover is perfect) together with the salmon.

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Smoke the salmon for 24 hours. You will have to refill the smoke generator once or twice. The salmon should stay cool during the smoking, so outside is great in winter.

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After 24 hours, the salmon will have a lovely smoky aroma.

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A gratuitous shot of smoked salmon on Conor’s board. How Conoresque can one get?

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Wash the salsify under cold running water.

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Peel the salsify. Make sure to wear gloves…

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…as otherwise your hands will end up looking like this. The sap from the salsify does not come off easily!

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Cut the salsify into 15 cm (6″) lengths and put them in a bowl of water with some lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring.

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Sous-vide is the best way to cook the salsify while maintaining their delicate flavor. Season them with salt and vacuum seal them.

If you don’t have sous-vide equipment, steam them for about 10 minutes instead.

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Cook the salsify sous-vide at 90C/194F for 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, make the sauce according to my foolproof method, but with dill instead of tarragon.

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Slice the salmon thinly with a sharp knife.

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Serve the salmon and salsify with the sauce.

Wine pairing

This is great with a white Burgundy. The oakiness and minerality goes well with the smokiness of the salmon. The citrus and butteriness go well with the sauce. Saint-Aubin is a great value choice, but of course Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet or even a Montrachet Grand Cru are all fine choices.

Flashback

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Stuffed pasta has different shapes and different names all over northern Italy. In Piemonte they are called agnolotti, and they are most commonly stuffed with braised meat and served with the cooking juices of the meat.

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12 thoughts on “Whiskey Cold Smoked Salmon with Salsify

  1. Wonderfully interesting! ‘Gravlax’ until Conor’s whisky and the ‘smokehouse’! Well, a number of people use vodka these days prepping the former tho’ I still tend to be a purist . . . Wish I could find my beloved salsify in my neck of the woods: the combination looks and sounds irresistible . . . and deserves a very good bottle of wine indeed . . .

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Honest injun: I was about three when my auntie first ‘allowed’ me to make gravlax – no alcohol involved at all and usually I still do not use any . . . methinks ruddy Jamie Oliver had me trying vodka . . . that perhaps ‘yes’ [or aquavit] but his beetroot never whilst calling it by its rightful name!! But yours IS a very special dish . . . [oh, one of these days must send you a photo of me at 3: quite obstreperous even then 😀 !!]

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  2. It might be possible to use a “cold pack” under the fillet to keep it cool. I use a cold smoke set up (Bradley) that produces a similar impact on the taste of the salmon. I haven’t used whiskey but will try it next time I make cold smoked salmon. Salsify is hard to find where I live. I think this dish would be a winner if I could find salsify here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cecil, the problem I have with using a cold pack is that the salmon will freeze where it touches the cold pack. Perhaps this could be fixed by using a cold pack that doesn’t come straight out of the freezer, but I’ve never tried that.

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  3. Sounds wonderful, Stefan, and it would make a wonderful antipasto for Christmas Eve dinner. Now I have to add a cold smoker to my wish list of kitchen apparatuses. 🙂 I have yet to see salsify anywhere but on the occasional cooking show. I’ll keep looking for it, though. I’d love to try some.

    Liked by 1 person

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