Decent smoked salmon is a thing of beauty, or used to be. With its silken texture and delicate flavor, a good piece of wild lox is one of my favorite foods. Sadly, most smoked salmon is now farmed, the hallmark of which is a disturbingly orange hue and, let's face it, not all that much flavor. The very pinnacle of lox--the wild north Atlantic variety--is now almost impossible to find. (Curious as to whether it still exists in Norway and Sweden.) I still pine for the mouthwatering north Atlantic lox I sampled in Stockholm several years ago whenever I pass the fish section of my local market.
Owing to this dismal state of affairs, I was pleased to discover a delightful wild smoked salmon sold by Coastside Farms and Specialties (the Fish Brothers) at the Jack London Square farmers' market. Although prepared differently from your typical lox, the Alaskan sockeye salmon sold here is cut into small steaks and then hot-smoked, creating a meatier product that can be crumbled or flaked. I found the texture of this particular style of smoked salmon is perfect for a delicate risotto punctuated by smoky morsels of wild salmon.
Smoked wild sockeye salmon risotto
Coastside Farms and Specialties offers a few types of flavored hot-smoked salmon. Among these, I prefer the black pepper variety.
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 cup carnaroli rice
1 quart stock
4oz/125ml white wine
1 small Meyer lemon, zested
1.5oz/40gr grated pecorino
4.5oz/125gr hot-smoked wild salmon
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
salt and white pepper
- Place a medium-sized, heavy pot on a low flame and melt the butter.
- Saute the shallots and fennel, adding the rice once the vegetables are translucent. Stir.
- Add the stock half a cup at a time while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. When the liquid is nearly absorbed, add the next half cup. Add the wine towards the end of cooking.
- Continue cooking until the rice is nearly al dente. Then add the zest, cheese, salmon, and thyme. Stop cooking when rice is al dente.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Plate and garnish with fennel fronds.