Things You Need to Know About Raw Smoked Salmon

Raw smoked salmon is a beloved seafood with a unique smoking process, offering cold-smoked and hot-smoked varieties for diverse culinary uses like bagel toppings and pasta additions.

what is raw smoked salmon called

Raw smoked salmon, enjoyed worldwide, combines preservation and flavor enhancement. It’s a staple in various dishes, from bagels to sushi. But how is it unique from other salmon varieties? This blog post will explore the nuances of this beloved seafood. So relax, perhaps with some tea and salmon-topped bagel, as we explore further.

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What is raw smoked salmon?

Fresh raw salmon fillets on a wooden board with lemon and fish net background.

Raw smoked salmon is a type of salmon preparation where the fish undergoes a smoking process without being fully cooked. The process involves exposing the fish to smoke from burning wood chips, a method that infuses the salmon with a distinctive smoky flavor while preserving it. There are two primary types of smoked salmon – cold-smoked and hot-smoked.

Cold-smoked salmon is smoked at a temperature below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping the fish in a raw state with a smooth and silky texture. Hot-smoked salmon, on the other hand, is smoked at temperatures around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which cooks the fish, resulting in a flakier texture.

various types of smoked salmon and their uses

There are several types of smoked salmon, each with its unique flavor profile, texture, and culinary uses. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

Cold Smoked Salmon

"A slice of smoked salmon with dill, lemons in the background"

Cold smoked salmon has a glossy appearance and a soft, silky texture. It is served thinly sliced and can be eaten right out of the package. This type of salmon is perfect for garnishing bagels, salads, or as an accompaniment to crackers and cheese.

Hot Smoked Salmon

homemade hot smoked salmon fillet on a cutting Board. trout. Gray background, top view

Hot-smoked salmon has a meaty texture and a more robust flavor than its cold-smoked counterpart. It can be eaten right out of the package, reheated, or incorporated into hot dishes like pasta, quiche, or chowder.


Homemade Bagel and Lox with Cream Cheese Capers  and Dill

Lox is a type of salmon fillet that has been cured with salt. The curing process involves packing the salmon in salt (often mixed with sugar, herbs, or spices) for several days before rinsing. Lox usually has a salty and sometimes herbaceous flavor and is often used as a topping for bagels.


Gravadlax, Scandinavian-style smoked salmon with dill,  and serve with a mustard sauce

Gravlax is a type of salmon that is cured using a mixture of salt, sugar, and dill. The name ‘gravlax’ comes from the Swedish word ‘grav’, which means ‘grave’, hinting at the traditional method of burying the salmon in salt to cure it. Nowadays, gravlax is typically cured in the refrigerator rather than being buried.

Nova Lox

Half a Nova lox bagel with hashbrowns

Nova lox is a type of salmon that is both cured and cold-smoked. It is named after Nova Scotia, a region famous for its wild Atlantic salmon. Nova lox has a robust flavor that is both salty and smoky and is a popular topping for bagels.

Things You Need to Know About Raw Smoked Salmon

The lexicon surrounding smoked salmon can be perplexing, with terms like lox, gravlax, and cured salmon denoting distinct preparation methods. ‘Lox’ historically pertained to salmon fillets brined in saltwater, but it now commonly equates to smoked salmon, especially as a favored bagel topping.

‘Gravlax’ and ‘cured salmon’ usually refer to salmon that has been cured through a process of coating the fish in a mixture of salt, sugar, and other flavorings like dill or beetroot, then leaving it to cure over several days.

traditional smoking and curing techniques used for salmon

The art of smoking and curing salmon is a time-honored tradition rooted in necessity. Before the advent of refrigeration, these techniques were vital for preserving food, particularly proteins like meat and fish. Over time, these preservation methods evolved into culinary techniques appreciated for the unique flavors they imparted to the food.

Traditional smoking involves exposing the fish to smoke from burning wood chips. The process can be done either in a hot or cold environment, which results in different textures and flavors. Curing, on the other hand, involves treating the fish with salt (and sometimes sugar and other flavorings) to draw out moisture, thereby preserving the fish and enhancing its flavor.

different ways to use raw smoked salmon in recipes

Toasted bread with mashed avocado, cucumber and smoked salmon on grey plate

Raw smoked salmon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a myriad of dishes. It can be served simply on a piece of toast or a bagel with cream cheese, or used in more complex recipes. For instance, it’s a common ingredient in sushi and sashimi.

Smoked salmon can also be incorporated into pasta dishes, used as a topping for pizza, or added to salads for a protein boost. Its smoky flavor adds depth to any dish it’s included in, making it a valuable addition to any home cook’s repertoire.

How to Tell If Raw Smoked Salmon Is Spoiled

Despite the extended shelf life provided by smoking and curing, raw smoked salmon can still spoil. To ensure you’re consuming fresh and safe-to-eat salmon, it’s important to know how to identify signs of spoilage. There are several indicators that your salmon may have gone bad.

First, verify the expiration date on the packaging. Regardless of the salmon’s appearance and odor, avoid consuming it once expired. Next, assess the salmon’s appearance: fresh salmon boasts a bright, vibrant hue and a moist texture, whereas dullness, discoloration, or dryness can indicate spoilage. Lastly, trust your sense of smell; a potent, off-putting scent is a clear sign of spoilage.

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