Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smoked Salmon Revelations

New York City is famous for smoked salmon, and purveyors who are noted for selling great quality smoked salmons are known well throughout town.  I recently discussed my love for the amazing carb-centric creations at Amy's Bread in Chelsea Market.  My last notes mentioned pairing some of their wonderful bread with smoked salmon.  While bagels are a traditional vessel for enjoying smoked salmon, bread is also an excellent choice, and removing the cream cheese, and other bells and whistles allows one to focus completely on the flavor of the salmon.  I recently decided to form a marriage of Amy's bread creations with a few of the smoked salmon choices at another great Chelsea Market shop, The Lobster Place.  This great seafood shop is where my dad FINALLY, after all his years of hating on New York, learned to love a small part of it.  When I brought my parents to Chelsea Market to see where I'd be working, these seafood lovers stepped into The Lobster Place and simply melted at the incredible selection of seafood products.  They have a ridiculous variety of fresh and smoked fish, lobsters, crab meat, oysters, seafood-related dry goods (such as seasonings), a sushi station, and other prepared foods such as soups and sandwiches.  Last week I tried some of their sushi and lobster bisque at lunch.  Both were high quality and satisfying.  The sushi was very fresh, tasty, but not very spicy.  The soup was piping hot and incredibly flavorful, though I would have loved a few more lobster chunks in there :) Overall, a great seafood-based lunch!

Spicy Tuna Avocado Rolls $5.75

Medium Lobster Bisque $5

I selected three different smoked salmons for my tasting, and the employees were very helpful in packaging them up and giving me some bags of ice to take my smoked salmons on the go on an oh-so-very-warm New York City day.  Since I was heading home this weekend, I invited my mom to join me in my smoked salmon tasting adventure, because she loves smoked salmon as much as I do!  We started with the Norwegian, and then tasted the Nova and Irish smoked salmons, which just so happened to be in order of mildest to strongest!  It's funny though, that the mildest tasting smoked salmon had the strongest odor, and the stronger and saltier the flavors got, the less pronounced that odor was.  Here are some photos and notes from the tasting.

Norwegian Smoked Salmon

  • Color - pink, slightly iridescent, and dull
  • Odor - strong smell of fish and smoke
  • Flavor - mild, not too salty
  • Mouthfeel - very soft and velvety, melts in your mouth, bites into easily
  • Notes - largest actual slices
  • Price - $16.50/lb

Nova Smoked Salmon

  • Color - pinkish-orange with some shine
  • Odor - less odor than the Norwegian smoked salmon
  • Flavor - slightly saltier than the Norwegian, a bit more smoky, and a slightly stronger flavor
  • Mouthfeel - a bit oilier mouthfeel than the Norwegian
  • Price - $16.95/lb

Irish Smoked Salmon

  • Color - orange-red and very shiny
  • Odor - the least fishy/smoky odor, almost smelled sweet
  • Flavor - saltier, more smoke and flavor than the other two
  • Mouthfeel - oilier and unctuous, with more of a bite (slightly more firm)
  • Notes - raised in remote open-water pens off Irish coast, hand-fed an all-natural organic diet
  • Price - $23.50
I can't pick a favorite out of these three smoked salmons. I can easily say they were all very enjoyable in their own ways.  I loved how mild and melt-in-your-mouth tender the Norwegian was, while I loved the moderate saltiness and slightly oilier mouthfeel of the Nova.  The Irish was truly more decadent and had a stronger, but delicious flavor and a more unctuous, fatty characteristic than the first two.  I would love to extend this tasting for smoked salmons from other spots throughout the city that are famous for this specialty item.  Perhaps in the future instead of doing side-by-side comparisons from one shop, I will try and acquire some fish from different shops and make my own selection for best smoked salmon in New York!  It could happen :) Just you wait and see!


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