Salmon smoked in the hotel’s kitchen
Chef prepares breakfast treat freshly each day, writes Tracey Chè King
IF you’ve ever toyed with the idea of smoking your own salmon, it really is surprisingly easy to do – and Bay chef Julia van der Westhuizen is happy to share her tips and tricks. The Radisson Blu hotel on the beachfront decided last year ago to do away with store-bought strips of salmon as part of their breakfast buffet, and treat guests and visitors to a whole fillet of in-house smoked salmon instead.
“We wanted something unique for the Radisson, and so we tried it and it worked,” senior sous chef Julia said before taking Weekend Post through the steps.
“People fell in love with it – they not only taste the difference, they see the difference, because it’s a whole salmon.”
Every day at 5.10am Julia smokes fresh Norwegian salmon for guests enjoying the hotel’s “Super Breakfast” buffet.
Her method is simple enough to be recreated by home cooks. She begins by filleting the whole salmon, but says home cooks could simply buy a fillet of salmon or trout at the harbour.
The actual smoking is preceded by curing the salmon.
To begin the curing process, she coats it in a combination of brown sugar, coarse sea salt, pepper, and the juice of one lemon and one orange. The lemon and orange juice give the fish a tangy taste that balances out the sugar.
The salmon is then placed in the fridge to cure overnight.
In the morning Julia removes the cured fish and begins the smoking process on the gas stove.
She places an oblong tray, containing wine barrel smoking chips, directly onto the burner. She then sets the chips alight and waits a minute before dousing the fire using the lid of the tray.
Once the flames are doused and the smoke is a clear grey, she places a perforated tray coated in oil spray on top of the lower tray.
The salmon is placed on top of the perforated tray and the lid goes on top to allow the fish to smoke.
For home smoking you could use a kettle braai and a smoking tray or smoke box if you don’t have a gas stove, Julia suggests.
“You start your coals, then place the tray onto the direct heat of the braai. It’ll only take 10 to 15 minutes to ‘cook’,” she said. “You’ll know it’s done when it feels firm, and it has a pinkish colour with a [dark brown veneer] on the top.”
Once cooked the salmon can go into the fridge until cool and ready to be served.
Julia serves her whole smoked salmon with capers and lemon wedges at breakfast. However, smoked salmon can be used in other ways.
“You can turn it into a hot smoked salmon salad – just add melon balls and citrus slices to it.
“You could put it into a croissant with capers, cream cheese and a squeeze of lemon, or serve it as a snack on crackers with cream cheese, paired with a white wine,” she said.
The Radisson breakfast buffet with show-stopping smoked salmon is served from 6.30 to 10.30am on weekdays, and 6.30 to 11am on weekends. Bookings are on (041) 509-5000.
BUFFET PRIDE: Julia van der Westhuizen