Home Oak Smoked Salmon, Watercress & Herby Feta Salad….& The Incredible journey……

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Before I share the journey, it’s important right now to shout out a few important words to honour the amazing salmon…..Respect, love, endurance, nature, strength, honour……These are a few words that I embody and claim for myself…………………. The journey….. The salmon’s journey from the sea to freshwater is unusual, epic and fraught with danger. Salmon spend their adult life in the sea. When they are ready to breed, salmon can travel up to an amazing 1000 miles to fresh water.  That’s like us walking from Paris to John O’Groats! Fresh water is where salmon reproduce. In a stream or pond high in oxygen, the female salmon digs a nest with her tail. She pushes thousands of eggs into the nest for the chosen male to fertilise. Then, most salmon die. Young salmon, or alevins, hatch after around one month. Alevins are tiny with huge eyes and attached to bright orange food sacs, which are a bit like egg yolks. They hide in the nest, under the surface of the stream bed, until they are bigger and stronger.   After a few months, the young salmon – known as fry – emerge from the nest and feed on small insects. The young salmon stay for several years in fresh water, feeding and growing stronger. When they are strong enough, the teenagers of the salmon world – known as smolts, swim downstream to salt water. This is a dangerous trip.  Lots of predators are out to get the salmon! At the estuary, where the river meets the sea, the salmon undergo smoltification. This is a complex internal change that allows their bodies to adapt to salt water. If this didn’t happen, the salmon would become dehydrated and die in salt water.   The salmon live in the sea until they mature – between 1 and 7 years, depending on the species. When they are ready to breed they return to where they hatched. No one knows how salmon return home. Perhaps they use their sense of smell.  Or maybe they use the Earth’s magnetic fields to navigate. It’s a fascinating mystery for scientists! Today our beautiful salmon, a springer first time back up stream, 11lbs in weight caught on the fly on the famous Scottish River Tey…… To cure the salmon: Lay a bed of rock salt and sugar mixed together on a large non metallic tray, gently place the fillets, skin down onto the bed.   Simply spoon over the remaining mix of salt & sugar, cover with cling film and leave in a chiller for around 4 hours.  This method is simply extracting moisture ready for a the next step…. Hot smoking: Light a small fire at the bottom of your smoker, a mixture of slow burning charcoal & oak wood chips is ideal.  Place a heatproof vessel filled with a little water over the fire, this will need topping up now and then as it evaporates.  Place a grill over the vessel about 300cm and remove your salmon from the chiller.   Dispose of all the salt & sugar, it’s done its job, drain off the liquid & place the fillets under a gentle stream of fresh water to clean them then pat them dry.  Place the fillets onto the grill, close the lid and let the smoking begin.  The ideal temperature for hot smoking is between 100-125 degrees centigrade and for this size salmon a smoking time of 1.5 – 2hours is required. Heap the watercress and herby leaves into a large bowl, crumble in the beautiful salty feta, drizzle with herb infused oil, gently tease the salmon from its skin and break moist pieces of salmon into the salad, giving it a gentle toss and mix together.  Season with black pepper and serve with lemon drizzled creme fraise. Gotta love the Salmon……….            

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Author: Simon

My early memories of food stem from visits to my Grampy's allotment, six years old, digging, weeding and planting these tiny seeds and tender plants...Wow what an intro…taking this bounty back to Gran, who would make the most delicious meals for us to share…..most of the stuff I had no idea what it was called……but it smelt and tasted delicious….so the journey began…..cooking by aged eight, anything I could get my hands on….trained at catering college, a complete waste of time as I already knew all these techniques. Then came girls, a change of career, my wife and children….but I still cooked, learning, watching, practicing my hobby…..never really following a recipe!!! just trusting my hands …. the feel, the aromas, the look and, of course, the taste….re-trained at the tender age of 49 as a Heart IQ Coach…and this is it! Bosh!….got passionate about my passion in life, totally off the richter scale…..inspired by food….all of it….so, 2013 Heart Kitchen is born to share with the world …….sourcing, honouring, preparing, sharing and connecting …..I love it!!!! - Simon