Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Strange with Christmas just over and the holidays going on I have nothing interesting to share this week, but hey! I'm a normal person living in a normal city. Extra ordinary things happen only once in a while. Anyway I thought I'd share something related to seafood. Once while watching the telly, I happened to come across a documentary that happened to show the process of manufacture of Smoked Salmon. So here it is.

Very often a Salmon and a Trout are misinterpreted as the same. The main difference that separates the two is the former is a migratory fish while the latter is a resident fish. Typically, salmon are anadromous, they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce. However, there are rare species that can only survive in fresh water. Folklore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where they were born to spawn; tracking studies have shown this to be true but the nature of how this memory works has long been debated.

Salmon is a popular food and the meat is generally orange to red, although there are some examples of white fleshed wild salmon. Canned salmon in the U.S. is usually wild Pacific catch, though some farmed salmon is available in canned form. Smoked Salmon is another popular preparation method, and can either be hot or cold smoked. Traditional canned salmon includes some skin (which is harmless) and bone (which adds calcium). Skinless and boneless canned salmon is also available.

Salmon is smoked to mainly enhance its flavor. The smoke houses defrosts the fish for 15 hours in running water that's just 2 degrees above freezing. This cold water thaw prevents bacteria from forming.

The next process is called filleting. Here they slice off the collar, the fish version of the neck. Then the fish is cut in two halves called fillets from what's called a control bone, the fish equivalent of the spinal column. The fillets are then trimmed using a razor sharp knife slicing off the fins and any excess fat. After this the fish will be ready for Curing, a preservation process that also enhances taste. Workers coat the fillets with salt and a mixture of 26 spices, then they let them sit for roughly an hour. This short cure time will limit the salmon's salt content to just 1%. To stop the curing process they rinse it off with cold water and then glaze it with maple syrup to neutralize any remaining salt residue.

The fillets are then fed into a huge smoke oven. Workers then load its combustion chamber with saw dust. Maple tree saw dust for the first 8 hours, Cherry tree sawdust for the next 8 hours and Apple tree saw dust for the last 8 hours. This sequence is a major factor is flavoring the fish. They then douse the fire with water to generate smoke, this process is called cold smoking, because the oven temperature is 10 degrees Celsius, much lower than the industry norm of 25 degrees. Smoking at 10 degrees Celsius takes about 24 hours, 3 times as longer than any regular method, but some say that it makes the fillet more moist. When the fillets are taken out of the oven they are thoroughly cooked, but still have the consistency of raw fish.

The fillets then go into a skinning machine which neatly removes the skin without removing any excess flesh, then its into a freezer at minus 3 degrees Celsius, this firms up the fillets, making them easy to slice. They are then manually cut into pieces about 2 mm thick. The fillets are then placed in a tray made of aluminum coated cardboard, aluminum blocks the fat from seeping through. To kill off any remaining bacteria they vacuum pack the wrappers, then deep freeze them for about an hour at about minus 35 degrees Celsius. They store and ship it at a milder minus 18 degrees Celsius where this preservative free salmon stays fresh for a complete year.


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