Authentic Irish Whiskey Irish Cold Smoked Irish Salmon.

Cold smoked salmon (6 of 6)What a mouthful of a headline. But, what a mouthful of delicious home smoked, Irish whiskey flavoured, Irish salmon. The words are carefully chosen to avoid ambiguity. I could go on a rant here about authenticity of food origins. But, there is little point. Food companies spend a lot of money to fool the unsuspecting consumer that their products are something other than as presented. In Ireland, one can buy ‘Irish’ salmon that has been reared in Scotland. The practice is totally legal. The food retailers and producers are just that bit smarter than the legislators. The average consumer doesn’t seem to care as long as the price is right. Anyway, I promised to not rant so, let me tell you about my salmon smoking experiment instead. 

Having temporarily got my hands on a Bradley digital smoker, I thought I should give smoking some salmon a go. I have previously hot smoked some salmon in a little camping smoker. It was delicious. Cold smoking is a bit more involved and takes longer. Here’s what I did.

A trip to the local fishmongers got me a nice piece of salmon. It also got me a second piece to smoke for the fishmonger too. Such is life. The process takes a few days to complete.

Friday evening: Arrived home with the two big pieces of salmon and a bag of salt. I sat the salmon, skin side down, on a bed of salt and generously sprinkled with more salt, adding more to the thicker end of the fillets.

If you have worries about too much salt in your diet, it's best to look away now.

If you have worries about too much salt in your diet, it’s best to look away now.

I covered these with cling film and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

Water out, salt in. That's the curing process.

Water out, salt in. That’s the curing process.

Saturday morning: A lot of water is pulled out of the salmon in the process. The meat is also cured by absorbing a deal of the salt in the osmosis. I then washed the salmon under the cold tap and patted them dry. I then placed them, uncovered, back in the fridge.

What better to paint on to a fish than Irish whiskey.

What better to paint on to a fish than Irish whiskey.

Saturday afternoon: I painted the salmon with a small amount of Kilbeggan Irish whiskey and returned it to the fridge. This process was repeated every three hours until I went to bed on Saturday night (three times in total).

The whiskey gives a lovely sheen that dulls a bit as the alcohol evaporates.

The whiskey gives a lovely sheen that dulls a bit as the alcohol evaporates.

Sunday morning: I fired up the smoker and put the salmon in to smoke for six hours.

A bit of a beast of a thing, the Bradley smoker.

A bit of a beast of a thing, the Bradley smoker.

The salmon has a lovely pellicle (thin film or skin) that formed overnight.

The salmon looks lovely before smoking.

The salmon looks lovely before smoking. That’s a whiskey pellicle that does that.

Sunday evening: I removed the salmon and return it to the fridge, uncovered.

The flavour is sealed in at this stage. Lots of flavour.

The flavour is sealed in at this stage. Lots of flavour.

Monday morning: I vacuum sealed the salmon and returned it to the fridge.

Tuesday evening: I unpacked the salmon, carved it and we tasted it. The anticipation had us giddy.

A really sharp knife is needed to get a nice thin slice. You want a nice thin slice.

A really sharp knife is needed to get a nice thin slice. You want a nice thin slice.

The salmon was a thing of beauty both in appearance and taste.

I was very happy with the texture and flavour of the salmon.

I was very happy with the texture and flavour of the salmon.

What better thing to serve with smoked salmon than brown bread and scrambled eggs. This lovely stuff was served with a wee drop of Kilbeggan Irish whiskey (what else?).

The whiskey goes very well with the delicious whiskey smoked salmon.

The whiskey goes very well with the delicious whiskey smoked salmon.

This was a triumph of patience and persistence. It is the truly genuine article. I used organic Irish salmon and Irish whiskey. I smoked it in Ireland. We ate it in Ireland and only Irish people ate it. It doesn’t get any more genuine Irish than that. I can’t recommend you to try it. It would take me four or five days to prepare it for you.

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  • oh my. This salmon looks so delectable. Love the idea of pairing the salmon with whiskey. Your smoker is such a behemoth of a machine!

    • It is a little over the top, for sure. However, I may now be giving smoked Christmas presents this year!

  • That looks delicious and what a fantastic smoker! You’ll have friends and family ringing you up and asking for smoked salmon for Christmas now 😉

    • They can ask. In fact, they already have and I now have a list…

      • It could get very long when they see your post!

        • Wait ’til I tell them the price. That will shorten the queue.

          • Ha ha – I imagine it’s not cheap before you spend all that time smoking it 🙂

  • Wow, I’m impressed. I could cold smoke Tasmanian salmon with Irish whiskey…better still I could drink the whiskey buy some cold smoked salmon. I’ve made gravlax with vodka, my friend uses whiskey, not much chance of such an elaborate smoker landing on my doorstep

    • I make gravlax as well sometimes with vodka and sometimes with whiskey – my smoker is a laugh!

      • I have a small spirit smoker too. It does hot smoking pretty well, if you keep a sharp eye on it.

      • Which do you prefer the vodka or the whiskey gravlax. My whiskey using friends uses too much salt so it colours my opinion. I should vary my recipe…

    • The Tasmanian salmon sounds intriguing. Probably because I am thinking of the Tasmanian Devil from the cartoons. I need to get out more.

      • There is a thriving Atlantic salmon farming industry in the cold southern waters of Tasmania, the fresh fish is as good as any I’ve ever eaten…

  • That looks and sounds delicious! I should give it a try one of these days. I am 1/4 Irish on my maternal grandmother’s side. She came from Cork.

    • Hi Lydia,
      Being 1/4 Irish is a lot better than being 100% something else. Thanks for visiting and for commenting. I had fun doing the salmon. I was in Cork only two weeks ago, talking to foodservice people about social media. I’ll bet your grandmother never had the opportunity to do that!

  • I just want to make sure that you sampled the whiskey at every painting to ensure that no random Scottishness, or God forbid, Englishness, had crept in while you weren’t watching…. You’ve got the slicing spot on. My father always says the slice is thin enough when you can read the Financial Times through it, but I feel that might be unnecessarily, well, *economical*. I like my slices a little thicker! Oh, and YUM!, by the way.

    • The sharper the knife, the thinner the slice. I love getting a good, thin, translucent slice. One can’t do that with inferior smoked salmon. It tends to go all gloopy and fall apart. I like your father’s approach. Though I can’t see myself reading the FT while scoffing this lot.

      • No, that would be sacrilegious – the dish is worthy of one’s full attention!

  • Wow that is one serious piece of equipment! That salmon looks delicious, the orange against the black background is such a striking picture. It must be so satisfying to make your own smoked produce. Impressive as always Conor!

    • Thanks Donna,
      This one took time but was great fun. I was like a schoolboy on his birthday when I got to slice it and taste it.

      • I’d love some of those gadgets to play with! I’m expecting a whole smoked turkey recipe over the coming weeks

        • The idea of smoking a turkey is interesting. However, I have some game on offer that will be getting the treatment as soon as it arrives.

          • Oh now that sounds good!
            I’m not actually a turkey fan – far too bland for my liking.

  • That is quite the undertaking! I’m afraid I’d have consumed the remainder of the Irish Whiskey and forgotten about the salmon! Looks delish, though!

    • Hi Deirdre,
      There was a pretty heavy temptation to take the bottle by the neck. Thankfully, I resisted. It uses only a tiny amount of whiskey to give a lovely mellow flavour. I look forward to further experimenting.

  • Any chance of a piece of your divine looking authentic Irish whiskey Irish cold smoked Irish salmon appearing on my doorstep soonish? (I am a big fan of a long blog title…)

    • Sorry, you will have to call around for it. Welcome any time!

  • Not for nothing, but the brown bread and the eggs look delicious too.

    Could this be the perfect breakfast or midnight snack?

    Thanks, Conor.


    • Thanks Glenn,
      It is a pretty good meal at any time of the day or night. I think it’s the little piece of parsley on the egg that got the photo into the acceptable. The bread was from Dunnes Stores. They do a pretty excellent brown of late.

  • Is it Irish by any chance? It looks and sounds wonderful. Can I put my Christmas order in now, please?

    • I will be doing a batch. Let’s negotiate!

      • Swapsies? What can I put on the table?

      • Membrillo??

        • You’ve talked me into it. I’ll put your name on the list!

          • What a pushover! It’s a deal. 🙂

          • I will revert when the smoking gets underway.

          • I’ll send you some membrillo to play with anyway. Can you message me a postal address?

          • Let’s swap. I’ll do that now.

  • Do you ship?!? 🙂

  • The salmon looks delicious! I think, I would need so much practice until I slice the salmon like you do! Very nicely done!

    • The trick is firm fleshed smoked fish (not the average lower priced smoked stuff from the stores) and a very, very sharp knife. Oh, a couple of decades practice helps too.
      It’s easy after that.

  • Interesting smoker. I’m not familiar with it, but I do hope you’ll keep smoking things with it, so I can learn more about it. The salmon looks amazing!

    • Hi Debbie,
      Yes indeed, I intend to keep it going. A friend has promised me some venison and another has promised me some pheasant (both can be hunted now that the season is open).

      • I look forward to it. Bow hunting season here in Virginia, USA. My husband’s first year hunting with a bow.

  • Now that’s good stuff, old chap! Quite the rig you have access to there, and yup, the salmon looks point on too. You form a nice pellicle, sir! Likewise, you sure know how to have fun over there. not to mention consuming thy whiskey!

    • High praise from the Pit! This has been one of the most enjoyable posts to do. The whiskey works really well with the salmon. The whiskey works really well anyway!

  • It sounds fantastic and what a labor of love!

    • Hi Bernice,
      There was a lot of love in it for sure. And everybody who ate it said they loved it too.
      Thanks be to goodness!

      • Oh I could image what a special treat!!

  • Great post, Conor. That salmon must have been fantastic. It couldn’t possibly be as Irish if I were to prepare and/or eat it. Recently I cold smoked some salmon for 24 hours (after curing), and it was phenomenal. So much better than store-bought smoked salmon. That smoker is a huge contraption by the way.

    • It’s big stuff indeed. I could smoke for the neighbourhood quite easily. In fact, I had to warn the neighbours that I was smoking and ask them to not call the fire brigade. It was very satisfying.

      • I remember the neighbours of my friend in Australia actually did call the fire brigade when we were BBQing in the patio 🙂

  • I expect to see you at the People’s Market next Sunday selling this by the bucket full – incredible looking salmon boyo!

    • If only I could get a return on my time. I would be there, for sure.

      • Yeah – I reckon a pitch there C-Bap would be fairly costly these days?

        • I could get a poachers coat and wander through the crowd of hipsters offering it on the sly. No rent and hopefully a rep as a poacher in the know. Not that I deserve that kind of accolade.

  • Way out of my league, but I can certainly appreciate it from cross country. Sadly I haven’t eaten salmon in quite some time for all the obvious reasons. Anything acceptable is out of the price range for my large family. Yours looks gorgeous btw. Xx

  • Love the racist salmon, Conor. Paired with the sci-fi smoker, it is indeed a mirror to current society. I’m very impressed with the whole thing.

    • If I can hold up a side of smoked salmon and have society reflect from its scales, I have succeeded.

      • Many have tried, granted. But I have high hopes for you.

    • The smoker is pretty Dr. Who, now that you mention it.

  • Well. What can I say Conor? Your smoking contraption outbeats ours by any stretch of the imagination. Although fresh-caught wild Chinook Salmon in the PNW might rival yours. Perhaps our Pendleton Whiskey could too. But hey, this isn’t a competition, right? 😉

    • Of course not! The best way for me to confirm what you claim is to sample some. So send it!

      • Umm I guess we better catch one this weekend as we are pulling our RV out for the season, lol! But I have many friends that caught a bunch of PNW salmon we can probably barter for to smoke to send you (and keep some for ourselves, of course).

  • Marvelous plate of food!

    • Thanks Rosemary. Thankfully, we managed a few plates from it.

  • Your smoking and slicing abilities are to be commended. I’m sure every morsel was delectable.

    • Thank you Karen. I learned the slicing from my father. He was a pathologist and good with a knife.

  • Oh this looks heavenly. I wish my husband didn’t mind the smell of seafood. Having fish uncovered in the fridge would be too much for him. I’ll have to figure a way round that. And it’s so annoying in this day and age we can’t trust labels. Why would they label it Irish if it is from Scotland? It’s not like the salmon there is subpar. I hate we have to be so vigilant.

    • Firstly Virginia, you need to trade that husband for a more open minded model. The food regulations are as leaky as a sieve. The fish is farmed elsewhere then shipped to Ireland for cutting and packing. That makes it Irish. Add an Irish sounding brand name and the deception is complete.

      • No way am I trading him in! Took me too long to find him. 😊. I don’t like farmed fish either. Ick.

  • Such a beautiful post! I love the shot of the knife slicing and held against the salmon. I’ve had a home smoked salmon from the Hebrides and that was beyond description. We knew the fisherman/diver as he was our neighbour of our holiday home and we had the best wild atlantic salmon and scallops ever! Your pictures brought back all those memories. Thank you!

    • Excellent. The thought of those scallops has me thinking that I need to get some very soon. I love them but eat them rarely.

  • Wow this looks amazing!

    • Thank you for the kind comment. Getting it allowed me visit your site and see some lovely stuff over there.

  • This Irish whiskey salmon recipe is the best. It looks fantastic. And such a beautiful color. A masterpiece.

    • That is the kindest comment I have received. Thank you Chef.

  • Greetings from Brighton Vale – just wondering where you got the smoker ?

    • Hi Willie,
      Great to hear from you. I have not heard the Pepper surname in many years. It’s a while since I’ve been in Brighton Vale too.

      A friend of mine imported it from the UK. He found that he hadn’t a use for it. So, now, I smoke various things in it. Lovely flavours.

  • A Bradley Smoker – wow, that is a serious bit of kit. I am very envious. The smoked salmon looks amazing as well 🙂

    • Thanks. It is and it was. I’m looking forward to more smoking so very soon.

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