The Raw Material
Atlantic salmon accounts for the majority of farmed salmon produced in the world, mostly coming from Norway, Canada, and Chile. Salmon farming goes to great lengths to protect the natural ecosystem from any impacts of farming. Salmon farming plays an important role for developing under-developed economies around the globe. This salmon is one of the most consistent fish types with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The higher fat content makes this fish a perfect choice for hot or cold smoking.
King salmon, also referred to as Chinook salmon, is wild-caught in Alaska by trolling and gill nets. Kings are most abundant between May and August, but are available year round. This salmon is also the least abundant from the salmon wild fisheries. King salmon stays at sea much longer than its wild-salmon counterparts, up to five years, before returning to their native streams to spawn. King salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids with similar contents as Atlantic salmon. The pronounced sweet, buttery taste of Kings make it an ideal candidate for cold or hot smoking.
Coho salmon, also referred to as Silvers, are wild-caught in the coastal waters of Alaska mostly by the troll fishery or by the net fishery. Trolling is a method of fishing where the boat drags one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish. Traditionally, coho has been part of indigenous people's diets and their sustenance for generations. Coho salmon are relatively small, averaging 5 pounds. The soft pinkish-reddish flesh of coho is leaner and softer than other species of salmon. Coho salmon is generally dry cured and cold smoked.
Sockeye salmon are one of the smallest species of Pacific salmon. Sockeye salmon is also known as red and blueback salmon. Most sockeye salmon are harvested in Alaska with gillnets either drifted from a vessel or set with one end at the shore. The flesh of sockeye salmon is known for its firm, lean, bright-orange color. Sockeye salmon that is smoked is generally dry cured and cold smoked.
Steelheads are sea-run Rainbow Trout belonging to the salmonoid family. Steelheads are both wild-caught and farmed-raised. The tender, dark/red orange flesh of Steelheads are similar to Atlantic Salmon. The nutty flavor of Steelhead is derived from its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids making this product an ideal candidate for cold smoking.
Lake whitefish, a distant member of the trout/salmon family Salmonidae, is wild-caught in Canada and parts of the northern United States, including all of the Great Lakes. Lake whitefish can range in weight from 2-4 pounds. Their flesh is typically silver to white with a tender and moist texture, which makes it an ideal fish for hot smoking. Whitefish eggs are also considered a delicacy and typically sold as caviar. Lake whitefish has played an important role in supporting the small, family-based fisheries for several generations.
Bluefish is wild-caught in a range of temperature and semi-tropical waters worldwide. Most commercial fisherman use gillnets to catch Bluefish. Sixty five percent of the allowable catch is allocated to the recreational sector. Acme's bluefish comes from near Long Island when the fish arrives during summer months after spawining in offshore waters. The firm-brownish fatty flesh is ideal for hot smoking.
Atlantic herring is wild-caught in the cold waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada and in the Gulf of Maine. This species of fish is the most abundant fish on the planet and can be found on both sides of the North Atlantic ocean. Atlantic herring is mostly harvested by purse seiners and mid-water trawlers. This bright-silvery small fish has an off-white firm flesh rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Pickled herring is a delicacy in many cuisines around the globe, especially in Scandinavian countries.
Atlantic mackerel, sometimes referred to as Boston Mackerel is wild-caught in the northeast waters of the Atlantic ocean. Mackerels are caught in a variety of ways, including mid-water trawls, gillnets, cast nets, and hook-line fishing methods. Higher quality Atlantic mackerel are landed in the fall after the fish has spent the summer months feeding. The fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The moist, light red flesh has a strong taste that is enhanced by grilling and hot smoking.
Sablefish / Black Cod
Sablefish or commonly referred to as Black Cod by gourmet chefs are found off the North Pacific coast. This deep water fish is heavily protected in the US to ensure a sustainable harvest. The white flesh of sablefish is soft with a buttery texture and a mild flavor. The omega-3 fatty acid content is as high as wild salmon. Sablefish is commonly cold smoked to a slightly higher temperature than salmon.
Farm-raised sturgeon has become an important alternative in the efforts to protect wild sturgeon. This fish is raised in isolated tanks or ponds taking the pressure off wild fisheries and the ecosystem. Sturgeon is farm raised in California. The firm, mild, mossy, buttery, steak-like flesh is one of the unique characteristics of this fish that make it perfect for hot smoking. Sturgeon is not considered Kosher because it has skin instead of scales.
Argentine hake or also referred to as merluccid hake is a fish that is wild-caught in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. Argentine hake is a bottom-trawling fishery, which is abundant in fish stocks and sustainably sourced. The mild-tasting, white-tender flesh of whiting favorably retains the smoky aromas during hot smoking.