“Food is in the details,” says Craig Murray and, “good food puts a smile on the face.”
The meals shared at Nimmo Bay have always been a part of the adventure, while using fresh, locally sourced ingredients rooted in the region. Smoked wild Pacific salmon, or ‘Nimmo Bay Gold’ as Craig refers to it, has been served at the resort since the beginning and has become a time-tested custom. In 1981, Craig built a small wooden smokehouse just outside of the floating lodge. Smoke from an outdoor stove was piped into the smokehouse and the hot smoked salmon it yielded was “delicious and loved by all.” Here is Craig’s preferred method, although it has been said that it really is all about the size of the salmon, temperature of the day, and type of alder you use. There are varying factors and the whole process is very visual.
Craig’s Hot Smoked Wild Pacific Salmon
- Cleaned and filleted wild Pacific salmon
- Coarse salt
- Demerara sugar
On a baking sheet or shallow pan, lay the salmon skin-down. Start with a layer of course salt, take a spray bottle and mist with water, add a layer of demerara sugar, and mist with water. The moisture from the salmon, combined with the salt and sugar mixture will create a brine. If you have more than one fillet, layer them on top of each other and repeat the process, evenly and generously coating each piece with the salt and sugar mixture, ensuring that all are well packed with the brine. Cover the fish and let it sit for about 8 hours. At this stage, you will see that a glaze has formed over the salmon. Remove the fish from the brine and rinse under cold water. Dry the fish lightly with a cloth to remove any excess water and lay out on the racks in the smokehouse (or smoker). Do not turn the heat on just yet, as best to let the fish cure overnight, drying and absorbing the flavour from inside the smokehouse.
In the morning, fire up the smokehouse! Take alder branches, about 3 inches in diameter, and cut into rounds with the bark removed. “Alder is good smoking wood,” explains Craig, “with a light flavor that will not overpower the salmon and allow for a true smoke.” Depending on the thickness of the fillets, it will take between 6 to 10 hours to smoke the fish. To check if the salmon is ready, make a small cut in the middle and take a look at the colour and consistency. “It’s all about the visual,” reminds Craig. Once finished smoking, turn off the smoker and let the salmon sit in the smokehouse overnight, again, curing and absorbing even more of the wonderful flavour. The fish will feel firm to the touch when finished and will continue to harden up a bit overnight. In the morning, the beautiful smoked salmon will be ready to eat, package, freeze, and share with family and friends in true Nimmo Bay tradition.