From the smokehouse round the corner….
Over this Christmas I filled up on amazing salmon. It was as local as it could get, with the Hansen & Lydersen smokehouse just a few hundred meters from my home. The salmon itself comes from a family run fish farm in Norway, and is farmed in the most sustainable way possible, with the highest standards of welfare for the fish. In other words, it is farmed salmon, but the best you can get.
And it shows: while with other farmed salmon its taste is often disguised by a strong smoked flavour, this lovely fish has a delicate juniper and beech wood aroma, hardly detectable at times, so that it could almost be mistaken for Japanese sashimi. Because another amazing characteristic of this salmon is the way it’s cut: not the traditional thin slices, but thick vertical ones, very much like sashimi.
This cut, like everything else in the preparation of this salmon, follows a century old tradition which Ole Hansen inherited from his great grandfather. In an old warehouse in Stoke Newington he sought to recreate the same conditions they had in Norway, down to the temperature and gentle breeze that moves the salmon while it is hung to smoke.The fish – always smoked within 48 hours of being caught – is never vacuum packed or wrapped in plastic. It is sold, to some of the best restaurants in London and abroad too, in an innovative packaging made of wood, which absorbs the natural oils of the fish.
I came across this gem of a smokehouse by complete chance. One late morning I went to my local bakery and saw a group of people sat at the tables outside with some white wine in a quirky cooler, intent in places the thick delicious slices of salmon on some fresh seeded rye bread from the bakery. I was intrigued, stopped to watch them and one of them offered me a slice. This is how I was immediately hooked.
And this is also how I generally have it at home, with a slice of rye bread and some poached eggs and avocado for a classy breakfast. Or, as shown in this last picture, complemented by some sharp mustard leaves, perfect to offset the fish’s oiliness. At Christmas I brought a whole side to my family, and we regaled it with a special treatment: home made blinis, Beluga caviar and sour cream. What a find!!!