Smoking -101.5, Salmon

I love smoked salmon in all of its variety and couldn’t pass up the chance to try out some of the many recipes at home.

The first recipe had an interesting twist as you created a marinade of vodka, brown sugar and salt. It said that using the vodka would takeout or neutralize some of the fishy flavour in the salmon. I did have a bit of trouble with the marinade though as it called for 1 cup vodka, 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup coarse salt. I mixed everything together but had a hard time getting everything to dissolve even after whisking for a good 15 minutes. I finally gave up and strained out the extra chunks of salt so that I could start the marinading process.

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I put the fresh filet of wild salmon (bought from Costco for $15) in a large zip lock bag, poured in the marinade, gently massaged the mixture into the salmon and left it to marinate for 2 hours. With the salmon ready I heated up the smoker and put the salmon directly on the grill skin side down for its 30 minute smoke. After the initial smoke the temperature gets turned up and it happily finishes its cook for another 45 minutes.

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This recipe had a nice light smoke flavour in the fish but had a bit of a boozy flavour at the thinner edges. I was hoping for a stronger smoke and a bit more sweetness but overall it was not bad for a first try. As a quick side note, I was feeling like it needed a little something to boost up the flavour so I whipped up a quick jar of home made pickled onion (I didn’t have any red onion so I used a sweet white onion that I had in the pantry). The pickled onion combined with a few capers made this a great dish that I will be making in the future for any events that we might have.

A few weeks later I also decided to try my hand at candied salmon. Again the recipe calls for a good dosing of liquor but this time it was for Gin.

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Again I purchased a large fillet of wild salmon from the local Costco, I sliced it into what I though twas about 1 inch pieces as the recipe calls for 2oz chunks. Interestingly enough the recipe didn’t call for me to take the skin off so I followed along and left it on which most likely aided in keeping the salmon chunks from falling apart.

I mixed up the brine of gin, maple syrup, kosher salt, brown sugar and pepper and dropped in the salmon. It needs to soak in the brine for at least 24 hours before you start the cooking process so make sure to plan for this well in advance.

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After a 24 hour soak in the brine I laid the salmon chunks out on a sheet of foil and set in on the smoker for a long slow 4 hour smoke. Something to note here is how the texture of the salmon had changed quite a bit after its overnight bath, becoming much firmer kind of like the difference between squeezing fresh bread and english muffins.

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After a long 4 hour smoke on the lowest setting and using maple wood pellets I pulled the salmon off the smoker and set it to cool. I was pleasantly surprised when the chunks didn’t stick to the foil even after I had forgotten to spray it with oil.

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After cooling the end product was slightly chewy with a great smoky flavour. I was surprised that it wasn’t as candied as I had hoped and it as a bit satlty but I think just a few tweaks to the brine recipe and we will be able to create exactly what we are looking for!

I will continue to try to find the perfect smoked salmon recipes so follow along in the upcoming smoking diaries!

Smoking a bit of everything, I am Your Everyday Foodie.

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Will Volunteer for Food

Have you ever wanted to attend a food event in your area but just weren’t able to find the funds for the tickets? Well in this economy that may be happening more and more so here’s a little twist that we came across the other day.

The Brewery and the Beast meat festival was coming to Calgary and had sold out but was looking for volunteers. I excitedly signed us up for a shift that ran the morning of the festival where we were able to help load in all of the vendors that were going to be participating in this amazing event.

This was a great chance to see how an event comes together as well as an opportunity to see how everything happens behind the scenes. Not only did we get to “meat” all of the chefs and their teams as they entered the site but we had an early chance to peruse all of the food offerings that were going to be presented.

With a little bit of sweat equity we bought ourselves full entry to the festival including all the food and drinks we could handle, some great relationships and even each scored a festival shirt.

I think that after this kind of behind the scenes experience I will be looking for more volunteer opportunities like this. After all, everything tastes a little better when you know you have worked off all the calories prior to enjoying all the indulgences. Your wallet will also appreciate the break!

Searching out foodie volunteer experiences everywhere, I am Your Everyday Foodie!

 

 

A PERi-PERi Adventure

Everyone has a favourite chicken joint be it take out or dine in, fried, baked, rotisserie, BBQ, smoked….the options go on and on.

The other day we were invited to attend the pre-opening, sneak-peek of a restaurant that is not only fairly new to many in Calgary, but was opening a brand new location on the famed 17th Avenue this weekend. I had heard of Nando’s in passing and had even come across the one location in the NE end of the city recently but since I didn’t know a lot about it I passed on by.

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As I now know, Nando’s is a mix of a take out and eat in, partial table service restaurant that offers a unique blend of african spices mixed with Portuguese style open flame grilling. Having originally started in South Africa in 1987 they now have over 1200 locations through out the world. Peri-Peri means African Bird’s Eye Chili which is the exact thing that gives Nando’s its special flavour. After sourcing their authentic Peri-Peri chili’s, Nando’s now has a breed of the chili that is specifically theirs (which is why they spell theirs PERi-PERi instead of the traditional way) and they continue to support its sustainable growth and harvest in South Africa. The chicken is marinated for a minimum of 24 hours then grilled to perfection over open flame with your choice of spicy heat creating a unique Afro-Portugese flavour.

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As we arrived, the line up of invited guests gathering on the street and the live DJ on the small patio pumping out the tunes was inviting a lot of buzz and attention. As soon as you enter you can see that this location will be a star on the famous 17th avenue strip. From the beautiful artwork above the bar commissioned and completed by a South African artist (as is all of the art in the Nando’s locations)

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to the clean lines, great lighting and open patio.

We snagged a table and were introduced to the PERi-PERi experience by one of the staff.

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We explored the sauce bar (an amazing selection of sauces of varying heats that you can take to your table to add any sort of spice you like),

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the futuristic looking pop machine that has a choice of over 100 drinks to choose from and the rest of the restaurant that includes an upstairs seating section and a hand washing station right in the main dining room to avoid any possible accidental spicy eye rubbing incidents!

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Shortly there after, with a glass of sangria in hand (by they way they have sangria on tap, we were already off to a great start) the food started to arrive.

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We had hummus with PERi-PERi drizzle and roasted red pepper dip with pita slices,

 

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marinated mixed olives and PERi-PERi nuts,

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Portugese garlic bread (that I could eat order after order of), and PERi-PERi sliders which were amazing with a sweet tasting sauce that mixed great with a bit of the spicy sauce.

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All of that was followed with PERi-PERi fries (with a spicy salt and aioli), chicken skewers

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and finally the amazing chicken. The chicken lived up to every thing we had expected and more. Perfectly grilled it was the juiciest and most flavourful chicken we have had anywhere.

With just a little room left we indulged in dessert, a Natas which is a Portuguese custard tart. The pastry was amazing, crunchy and chewy and the filling was thick, creamy and not too sweet. It held up beautifully to being eaten by hand and I had to give my husband the stink eye to keep him away from mine.

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Overall I think that we have found a new favourite chicken joint. Not only is it a healthier grilled version instead of fried but we can’t wait to try the multitude of spices and flavours from mild to super spicy that you can add to any chicken. A quick look at the menu shows prices that will be hard to beat anywhere else and we are already planning our next trip back. If you have a Nando’s in your city and you have been avoiding it because you were not sure what it was I highly suggest you visit soon!

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Exploring a new addiction to PERi-PERi, I am Your Everyday Foodie!

Just a note, although we were invited to attend this event all comments and reviews are my own and have not been solicited.