February 19, 2011

Traditional Food and Culture of Pacific Northwest

Smoked salmon


First Nation on Chinese New Year parade








Pepper smoked
Double smoked



I've made many posts about the world's ethnic foods and designs, and now  it is time to say something about the Pacific Northwest's ethno culture.
Pacific Northwest aboriginal customs and culture are somewhat different from others that I've mentioned before, because of the big emphasis on spirituality.
The Native people of British Columbia truly live with nature in every aspect of their life. To them, salmon is very sacred. Special and unique native art is very colorful and layered, the food is wholesome, simple and wood-smoked. Besides many special varieties of smoked and cured salmon and wild meat, I was the most impressed by real Salish smoked salt that has since become integral part of my everyday cooking.

Salish smoked salt
There are many legends about animals and fish, especialy salmon and its spirit. Salmon is one of the rare and really unique and melancolic fish that after birth in a river goes to live all its life in an ocean and for its final moments, comes backs to its place of birth, gives birth and dies. The return of the salmon is celebrated every season. There is an aboriginal legend and custom that after eating a salmon, it's important to throw the bones back to the ocean, so that the salmon can come back again next year!
Different species of Pacific salmon are: Pink, Chum, Coho, Sockeye or Chinook (also known as Spring in BC or King in USA). They are different in taste and colour. Some people would say that sockeye is the best, some prefer chinook,  pink usually doesn't have that much flavour. The beauty of salmon is that it can be easily combined and cooked with other food. I already have many recipes using salmon on my blog. Because this post is about original/native food from the Pacific Northwest, I was happy to find and post below the recipe for Salmon candy, something that my kids are big fans of. We're lucky, to find this type of smoked salmon along with other kinds in almost every grocery store here. Since this type of salmon is rarely available anywhere else outside of British Columbia, I wanted to give a chance to other people in a world to try to make it at home. The only problem is smoking the fish if you don't have a smoker; however a few tips from the internet, will help.
A few photos that I posted above show varieties of hot and cold smoked salmon. Smoked salmon can be combined with garlic or lemon pepper; it can also be double smoked or have an Indian candy taste. With some good creme cheese on a piece of rye, pumpernickel bread, or on a bagel, you'll have a simple and great lunch!


Candied wild salmon (Salmon candy)

1 large fresh wild salmon fillet – skin on, pin bones out
2/3 cup natural brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
1/3 tbsp ground pepper
1/3 tbsp unpasteurized honey
1/3 tbsp natural brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground pepper

With the salmon fillet, carefully make vertical slices about the width of your thumb through the meat, but do not cut through the skin. Once the slices are complete, grasp each end of the fillet and stretch the skin so that the portions of fish separate at each cut.
Place prepared salmon on a large cookie sheet.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, salt, and ground pepper until uniformly distributed. Carefully and evenly pack the mixture over each fillet by hand, making sure to get between the gapped slices.
Place in refrigerator overnight to cure. The dry cure will begin to turn liquid as the salt removes moisture from the fillets.
Once cured (12-18 hours), rinse excess curing mixture off of the fillets and allow to air dry for an hour.
Smoke fillets for 30 minutes at 100°F. Use the top three racks of the smoker, placing two fillets on each rack. On the bottom rack, place an insert full of ice to ensure the heat stays cool for the cold smoke. Create the finishing glaze by combining the remaining ingredients of honey, brown sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Add a few tablespoons of boiling water to help melt the ingredients and stir into a sticky sauce.
Brush the sauce over the fillets once they are smoked.
Place the fillets in the oven on the “cooling” setting for two-to-three hours to dry the meat to the desired consistency.

Production schedule
Salmon thawing: 30 minutes
Fillet and curing prep: 15 minutes
Curing: overnight
Cure rinse and dry: 1 hour
Smoking: 30 minutes 
Glazing: 15 minutes
Fan drying: 2-3 hours
Total time: 4.5 hours

Recipe courtesy of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, British Columbia.


Salmon could also be made into a pate and here is how:

Salmon Pate

250g smoked salmon chopped (hot smoked preferably)
1 tsp horseradish cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
1tbsp chopped chive

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients and transfer to the smaller bowl and cover with plastic. Let set for about an hour.

2 comments:

Reverend S said...

I found this post very interesting. Our Sami culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_people is an important part of the Finnish lifestyle so I really see the similarity between the two nations.

Zexxy's wife said...

I guess it's similar with other aboriginal cultures around the world. We should learn more from their spirituality and meanings in life.