There’s nothing quite like the taste of nova salmon- when made properly it starts with a fresh salmon taste, then slightly salty, finished with a nice, but not overpowering smoky flavor..pure heaven! I hadn’t always been a fan of smoked salmon, but owning a bagel shop will turn ya into a fanatic. There’s something about a NY style bagel (preferably an everything bagel) with that crunchy shell, then spread with a thin layer of cream cheese, stacked with smoked salmon, and topped with tomatoes, red onions, and capers that sends my pallet through the roof. The texture of the crunchy bagel and cream cheese, mixed with the smokiness of the salmon, and the saltiness of the capers do it for me every time.
However, I couldn’t help but think what could make this sandwich even better…I started thinking about the taste difference between our bagels which are made from scratch, then boiled and baked compared to other bagels which aren’t made the same way, and how much of a difference it makes in the taste. So naturally, we decided to start making our nova from scratch as well!
At Bagel Boyz, we understand the importance of freshly smoked nova salmon, but couldn’t seem to find it in any of the store bought products we tasted. We tried every brand we could get our hands on, but none of them gave us the flavor we experienced that first time we smoked it ourselves. Our dilemma, which I’ve heard from countless of others as well, is that once you smoke salmon fresh for the first time you can never go back to store bought salmon!
Alas, this is the method we settled on, and led us to the product that our catering clients have been raving about.
- Purchase your salmon filet- make sure it’s fresh, and that you trust the source. It should not smell fishy.
- Rinse your filet with very cold water, then pat dry.
- Prepare plastic wrap in a pan and layer with about 1/4 of an inch of sea salt.
- Place your filet skin side down on the plastic wrap; then coat the top of the filet with 1/4 inch of sea salt, and we add brown sugar as well for flavor.
Wrap your filet tightly, and place something on top to weigh it down, and help the salmon absorb the salt.
- Now place in your refrigerator and let sit for 16-20 hours depending on the thickness of your filet.
- Remove your filet the next day and rinse it with cold water.
- Fill your pan with cold water, and place salmon back in the pan, then into the refrigerator for about one hour (the longer you leave your salmon in the water, the less salty it will taste). The water helps remove some of the saltiness from the outer layer of the salmon while driving the salt deeper into the filet to help cure the center, and provide the right texture.
- Remove your fish from the cooler, and drain the water. Then, place the salmon on an oven rack and back into the cooler for at least 12 hours (do not cover!)- this will help develop a skin on the outer layer of your salmon which is great for absorbing the smoke, and also allow your salmon to rid itself of the rest of the moisture.
- Remove your salmon, and set your cold smoker to 70 degrees. Use a mild wood for the smoking such as alder (our preferred), or cherry.
- Smoke your salmon for around 4-6 hours, and make sure your temperature never goes about 80 degrees or you’ll start to partially cook the salmon.
- Remove from your smoker, and wrap in plastic tightly overnight to mellow out the smoky flavor.
- Slice as thinly as possible, and serve on a Bagel Boyz bagel 🙂 with cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, capers, and dill if you’d like.
Voila, you have your perfectly smoked nova salmon! The process is tedious, and the wait can sometimes feel like an eternity, but the finished product is well worth the wait.
We hope you enjoy our nova salmon recipe as much as we do, and remember, as with any raw fish consumption, be sure to follow all of the health and safety protocols. Check out this if you’d like to learn more information about cold smoking.