Hot vs. Cold Smoked Salmon


What's the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon, anyway? Find out the difference and how to eat them both, plus get great recipes you can save to your free cookbook.

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The difference between hot and cold smoked salmon

A beautiful piece of smoked salmon is one of life’s luxuries, and the fantastic thing about it is that it’s available smoked in two different ways. But how do you know the difference and how to eat them?

The good news is that once you know the difference between hot and cold smoked salmon, it’s as obvious as the difference between a vibrant piece of sashimi and a flaky cooked salmon fillet, and there are so many ways to enjoy them both!

Cold smoked salmon

Cold smoking is the process of smoking food away from the heat source. The smoke is created in one chamber, then it’s pumped into a different chamber containing the food. It’s then smoked for 12- 48 hours, and the ambient temperature is kept at 25°C or lower.

Salmon is cured before cold smoking, giving it a salty flavour and dense texture. Curing helps to remove moisture, which allows for better smoke penetration and helps the fish to keep for longer.

This means cold smoked salmon looks translucent like an uncooked fillet. The fish has a smooth and silky texture, strong salty taste and it’s usually sold thinly sliced in vacuum packed packages.

How to eat cold smoked salmon

Most cold smoked foods are eaten cold, including salmon. Cold smoked salmon is quite salty due to the curing process, so it’s usually sliced thinly and eaten with other foods. Here are some recipe ideas for eating cold smoked salmon:

Get the recipe: Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Dill Creme Fraiche

Get the recipe: Smoked Salmon, Ricotta and Rocket Pita Pizza

See more recipes ideas for cold smoked salmon below!

Hot smoked salmon

Unlike cold smoked foods, hot smoked foods are smoked and cooked at the same time. The food is placed near the heat source in the cooking and smoking chamber and the ambient temperature is kept between 80°C-150°C, depending on what is being smoked.

This means that hot smoked salmon is cooked, opaque and flaky, and hot smoking gives it a stronger smoky flavour than cold smoked salmon.

Sometimes the salmon is brined in a weak salt and water solution (rather than cured) before smoking. This enhances the flavour, moisture and texture, but means hot smoked salmon much less salty than cold smoked. Hot smoked salmon is usually sold as fillets in vacuum packed packages.

How to eat hot smoked salmon

Hot smoked salmon can be eaten cold straight from the packaging or warmed and flaked to have in salads, frittatas and other dishes. Here are some recipe ideas for eating hot smoked salmon:

Get the recipe: Caesar Salad with Hot Smoked Salmon

Get the recipe: Pie Maker Salmon, Pea and Pesto Pies

See more cold and hot smoked salmon recipes below, or check out this collection of salmon fillet recipes.

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