You don't need big, fancy equipment to turn out fabulous hot-smoked salmon. Sometimes all it takes is quality fish and a fluke of nature.
At the Farm at Mt. Walden, Richard Pla-Silva and Kyle Strohmann use green applewood to hot-smoke farm-raised Atlantic swimmers--the type the smoked-salmon world prizes for their rich oil content. Salmon is smoked at anywhere from 150 to 190 degrees in the hot-smoking process, which produces a smoky flavor and the flaky texture of cooked fish. (In cold-smoking, by contrast, temperatures range only from 70 to 90 degrees, so the fish remains uncooked, resulting in the shiny appearance and velvety texture we see in Nova lox.)
Using a small smoker they bought at a discount store, Pla-Silva and Strohmann began smoking fish in 1988 after a drought put an end to their fresh-cut flower business. Today the fish is smoked in an FDA-approved production facility, and the partners plan to build an even larger smokehouse to allow them to smoke meats and poultry as well.
Hand-boned and soaked briefly in a natural brine, the Farm's moist, bright-orange smoked salmon is firm to the touch and has a subtle apple smokiness. The Farm at Mt. Walden sells whole smoked salmon that average about four pounds for $95, postpaid. The fish looks impressive served whole on a buffet platter. It can also be flaked and added to scrambled eggs, pastas or salads. Even better, try it as a topping for toast or pizza.
The Farm at Mt. Walden
Main Street, Drawer 515
The Plains, Va. 22171
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