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The Best Seasoning For Homemade Smoked Salmon

salmon with salt on top
salmon with salt on top - Atsushi Hirao/Shutterstock

Though there are many different types of smoked salmon, there are two primary methods of producing it: Cold-smoking and hot-smoking. This matters when it comes to seasoning because whether you're hot-smoking or cold-smoking will influence which is the best seasoning for your salmon.

The main difference between hot and cold smoking is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the temperature at which you smoke your salmon (or other type of fish or meat). For a cold smoke, this is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a hot smoke is above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold-smoked salmon is typically cured with a mixture of salt and sugar before being cold-smoked to help draw out the moisture from the fish. This makes it substantially different from lox (which is cured with only salt), and the addition of sugar should be taken into account when you're thinking about getting your seasonings just right.

Conversely, the hot smoke method will result in cooked, smoked salmon. Here, you can get a little more creative with your seasonings.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

Seasonings For Hot-Smoked Salmon

hot-smoked salmon on brown paper with lemon
hot-smoked salmon on brown paper with lemon - SHARKY PHOTOGRAPHY/Shutterstock

When it comes to hot smoked salmon, things get a little more variable. There are plenty of active discussions in online smoking forums about whether it's better to brine or dry-cure your salmon before hot smoking, or even whether it's necessary to cure it at all since you're going to be cooking it with heat when you smoke it anyway.

One of the key benefits of both wet- and dry-curing salmon is that it allows more time for your seasonings to influence the taste of the fish than it will if you simply rub a mix of seasonings onto the fish and then smoke it. Curing will also make it last longer once cooked.

In addition to your salt and sugar mixture, one very unique seasoning to try is dried lemon myrtle. So long as you can find it, once combined with a little black pepper in a dry cure, it can yield truly zesty and delicious results. Another interesting combination to consider is maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and (believe it or not) a good steak rub. This gives a great balance of umami savoriness and sweetness.

Another relatively popular seasoning for hot smoked salmon is chili. This can really elevate your smoky sweet salmon, but it depends on personal taste. Try combining chili and white wine with your next dry cure for a touch of class!

Seasonings For Cold-Smoked Salmon

close up of smoked salmon with seasoning
close up of smoked salmon with seasoning - Beyhanyazar/Getty Images

Because cold-smoked salmon is cured, the best moment to incorporate seasonings is in the curing mix itself. The curing mix will eventually be washed off with water, so stronger, more abrasive ingredients work best because they have a chance to flavor the salmon properly.

One tried-and-tested seasoning combination for cold-smoked salmon is dill, black pepper, and fennel seeds. It's herby and fresh but with a slight peppery kick. For added color, try combining smoked paprika with coriander seeds. The orange-redness will complement and accentuate the natural coloring of your salmon. However, if striking color is what you're after, beetroot is a winner. Adding blended beetroot, caraway seeds, and white peppercorns to your cure will give your salmon purple-pink edges, perfect for adding a bit of flare to your table at a dinner party. Adding alcohol also works well, particularly gin or vodka. These give the salmon a mild liquor flavor and also help release the fish's natural flavors.

Smoked salmon is about a balance of sweet, salt, and smoky flavors. Adding too much seasoning risks distracting from the main event. The chances are you're planning on using it over a few different days and dishes, and if that's the case, staying minimal with your seasonings may be wise. A chili cure might be great for smoked salmon deviled eggs, but perhaps not so much with breakfast eggs and waffles. So if in doubt, there's no shame in keeping things simple and leaving out additional seasonings entirely.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.