Friday, September 28, 2012

Smoked Salmon with Farfalle and Edamame

Smoked salmon is The Lawyer's signature dish so he gets full credit for this post (well, I made the farfalle and edamame part).  We served it once upon a time to our friends Ted and Judy not knowing that Judy barely tolerates salmon.  I think it was probably the highest praise ever when she said, "I like this salmon so much it doesn't even need tartar sauce!"  The wood smoke adds the same robust flavor to salmon that it does to turkey or ribs.  You can vary the intensity of the smokiness by using different types of wood:  apple or alder wood is more mild, mesquite is medium, and hickory is the most intense. For this particular recipe we used apple wood chips. Different varieties of wood chips are easily found in grocery stores or hardware stores. Whatever type of wood you choose, the smoke will turn the salmon a beautiful burnished mahogany color as it cooks and it's no more difficult than grilling or pan-roasting salmon in the normal way.

By the way, do you know the difference between hot-smoked salmon and cold-smoked salmon?  This recipe is an example of hot-smoked salmon:  typically a thicker fillet that's cooked and smoked over low heat.  In contrast, cold-smoked salmon is cured and smoked without any heat.  You'll usually find cold-smoked salmon in a plastic package as a fillet that's been very thinly sliced.  It's the type of salmon served with bagels.  Hot-smoked salmon is more robust in flavor and flakes easily with a fork; cold-smoked salmon is soft and mild and does not flake. 

Over the years we've serve smoked salmon many different ways: with mashed potatoes, or spaghetti and garlic olive oil, or  grilled vegetables.  This particular recipe for farfalle and edamame is delicious, light and nutritious, and the flavors are a great match for the salmon.  After serving the warm salmon on the warm pasta for dinner, refrigerate any leftovers (breaking the salmon into large chunks) and you have a fabulous cold salmon salad for the next day.

One last thought about smoking food:  The Lawyer has used both gas and charcoal grills for smoking.  In his opinion, kettle-style charcoal grills are better because the air comes from the bottom and causes the smoke to flow over the food before escaping out the top.  Gas grills have vents across the back that don't necessarily force the smoke across the food.  If you have a gas grill, just be sure to use plenty of wood chips and start them early before putting the food on the grill so you have smoke from the get-go. You may also want to use a more intense wood to help the smoky flavor.  Experiment and find out what works best for you.   (Of course, if you have a smoker you're golden.)

I'm listing the salmon recipe separately from the farfalle and edamame recipe because I wanted to emphasize that the salmon can be served with virtually anything.  Print them both to make them together.

* * click here for a printable version of the Smoked Salmon recipe * *

* * click here for a printable version of the Smoked Salmon with Farfalle and Edamame recipe * *

Smoked Salmon
Serves 4

Alder or apple wood will result in the mildest flavor, but mesquite or hickory chips are also excellent.

1 ¼ lb skin-on salmon fillet, preferably fresh and wild caught
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Ground pepper

4 cups of small wood chips, soaked in water at least two hours

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling by heating just one side to medium (gas) or by lighting and piling charcoal on one side 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Meanwhile, remove the pin bones from the salmon with tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels, then rub with vegetable oil on both sides (especially the skin side so it doesn’t stick). Dust the top of the salmon with paprika and pepper.

Remove the wood chips from water. If using a gas grill, put the chips in an aluminum foil pouch and pierce several times with a fork, then put the aluminum foil pouch on the heated briquettes. Alternately, put them in a smoker box if your grill has one. If using a charcoal grill, place the drained wood chips directly on the coals.

Put the grill rack in place and allow to heat for at least five minutes; then clean the rack thoroughly. Place the salmon skin side down on the unheated side of the grill and position the lid with vents opposite the wood chips to draw smoke through the grill (if possible). Grill the salmon without flipping until cooked through and temperature reaches about 145d, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the grill carefully using a large spatula or two smaller spatulas. Cut the fillet into individual portions without cutting though the skin, then slide the spatula between the flesh and the skin to remove individual pieces, leaving the skin behind.

Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

Smoked Salmon with Farfalle and Edamame
Serves 4

2 cups uncooked farfalle (about 6 ounces bow tie pasta)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (soy beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped red onion
4 ounces baby spinach
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
4 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Smoked Salmon (see separate recipe)

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Add edamame; cook additional 6 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and place in a large bowl, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat thoroughly.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; cook 2 minutes or until just wilted, stirring frequently. Add spinach mixture and dill to pasta mixture; toss gently to combine. Add mustard, salt and pepper, toss to combine thoroughly.

Serve on individual plates with smoked salmon piece on top. May be served warm, room temperature, or cold. (If served cold, you may want to moisten with a little additional olive oil prior to serving.)

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