Sometimes it can be a little intimidating using seafood, knowing exactly how to cook each product, from cooking times to flavour pairings. However two relatively simple seafood products to use are halibut and ready-made cold smoked fish. Halibut is a very forgiving fish when cooked, and cold smoked fish is ready to eat but can also be used in a variety of dishes to add smokiness and delicious flavour.
Wild pacific halibut has long been a vital pillar in the culture, cuisine, and economy of British Columbia, with commercial harvesting practices dating back as far as the 18th century. In modern times, the halibut fishery is mostly composed of smaller family owned businesses, as well as a growing proportion of Indigenous representation, which accounts for around a quarter of the commercial halibut fishing licenses in the province.
In terms of location, the actual area where you can catch halibut is small, which means that continued access to and preservation of this area is vital. Over 90% of Canada’s harvest is located between the northern tip of Vancouver Island and Alaska, and overall BC accounts for 15% of the total harvest in North America.
Halibut is a vital resource and one of the best examples of a fish that can be caught, sourced, and replenished in a sustainable manner, with benefits for both people and the environment.
Not only is it a tremendous source of job creation, but it’s also globally recognized by the Marine Stewardship Council as one of only approximately 10% of fisheries as being worthy of their sustainable accreditation, as well as being recognized by leading bodies such as Ocean Watch.
Of course, none of this would matter if Halibut wasn’t delicious! It is a versatile and forgiving fish with a fantastic texture that makes it ideal for a wide range of dishes. With a mild, almost sweet, taste, it’s a fantastic compliment for sharp citrus sauces, strong pestos, or a plethora of spices.
The firmness of the flesh means halibut can be cooked in a variety of methods, such as frying, grilling, roasting or poaching. When cooking halibut, make sure to utilize recipes that cook the fish quickly or use plenty of oil, as halibut can dry out easily due to its low oil content.
Halibut can also be found cold smoked, something that works fantastically due to the thick texture and subtle flavour.
Cold Smoking Fish
Of course, halibut is not the typical fish thought of when talking about cold smoking. Smoked fish is a delicacy that I’m sure we’re all familiar with, especially living in a place as famed for its salmon as the Pacific Northwest, but there’s a lot of nuance and variation within the realm of smoked fish.
What began as a necessity in the early days of seafaring and fishing to preserve and flavour the fish, has evolved into a culinary staple across the world. And here we take a closer look at cold smoking, how it works, and some of the ways you can use these fine delights.
As the name suggests, cold smoking simply refers to fish that has been treated at a lower temperature than hot smoked.
One of the key ways you can identify the difference is that hot smoked products will be ready to eat or be good to heat up. Cold smoked fish is usually smoked at a temperature lower than 32 degrees (90F) with the length varying depending on the recipe and technique used.
Key to the whole process though is the curing stage that happens beforehand; this is the magic alchemy of cold smoking and can impart a wide variety of flavours, depending on which herbs, spices, or other substances such as maple syrup, are used. This process also helps draw the moisture out of the flesh, improving the texture and making it easier for the smoky flavours to be absorbed later on in the process.
When it comes to the type of fish used, especially for cold smoking, it’s ideal to get a fish with a firmer flesh and high fat content. This creates that silky texture and is why smoked salmon in particular is so highly prized. Trout is also an excellent fish too to smoke, as its rich flavour pairs exceptionally well with the smoke.
Smoking is a great process to use with oiler, stronger flavoured fish, such as mackerel. However, this tends to be a more popular choice with hot smoking, where the fish is required to be able to stand up to the more intense flavours imparted by the process.
A more unusual fish to cold smoke but one that is very decadent, is sablefish. Also known as “black cod” or “butterfish” this is a silky rich fish that is full of omega 3 fats that is a great addition to almost any dish.
There are a wide range of dishes you can use cold smoked fish in, including everything from extravagant brunches to rustic mains.
Some of our favorite ways to use cold smoked fish include
Blending smoked salmon or trout with cream cheese and green onion to create a savoury fish dip. For an extra bit of zing try drizzling it with an orange vinaigrette. Serve with some bread or crackers for an appetizer
Serving slices of smoked fish with creamy scrambled eggs. Garnish with chives for a fancy but super easy breakfast
Adding smoked fish to a green salad with dill vinaigrette for some extra protein and smokiness, ideal for a light lunch
And of course, there is the delicious classic of a toasted sesame seed bagel slathered in cream cheese, covered in smoked salmon or trout
We’re always excited to be able to offer up our fresh and carefully sourced catch to our customers through our restaurant, and we think the best way to do that is with simple yet carefully composed dishes that highlight the flavours of the ingredients.
A perfect example of this is our salmon burgers, which you can come in and try for yourself! With the flavour of this magnificent fish front and centre, and served alongside fries and your choice of dip, it’s a can’t miss menu option that everyone loves.
Whether it’s providing great food at our restaurant, or great ingredients for our customers to cook at home, we’re always delivering for you no matter what your needs.