Is Smoked Salmon Cooked Or Raw (The Truth Unveiled)

With a subtle smoky aroma and soft creamy texture, smoked salmon is a chef-kissed, divine meal without a doubt. However, there is this question mostly asked about it. Is smoked salmon cooked or raw?

is smoked salmon cooked or raw

Both are correct (cooked and raw) for Salmon depending on how it’s smoked.

Salmon can be smoked in two ways. Hot smoked or cold smoked. When it is ‘hot smoked’, applying 120-225°F/49-82°C heat, without any doubt, you can consider it cooked. But, in the case of ‘cold smoked’ where only 75-90°F/24-32°C heat is used, it is still raw salmon. But it may have a prolonged shelf life. Yet, regardless of the smoking method, you can enjoy both hot and cold smoked salmon without any further cooking.

In today’s article, I’m going to answer any questions you might have about smoked salmon. This includes information on shelf life, smoking methods, and their health benefits.

A Word On Smoked Salmon

I’ve always loved eating smoked salmon. I feel like it enhances the taste of anything it’s paired with. Whether it’s about pairing it with potato cakes or enjoying it in sushi rolls, smoked salmon always does magic to our taste buds. Right? 

But this meal is not all about deliciousness. From its preparation to its preservation, everything about this fish is an art. 

So, what about having a look at this art? 

How to prepare smoked salmon

The preparation of smoked salmon involves three simple steps.

1. Removal Of Bones and Skin

It all starts with rinsing the fish with water, and after that, the fish is cut.

For cutting Salmon, Gordon Ramsay’s technique is my personal favorite, as he says ” Get comfortable with the fish and just let the knife do its work. ” 

He further adds “Don’t over hack the salmon otherwise you’re gonna bruise it”. 

Additional Tip To cut the salmon like a master chef, I’d recommend you to watch this video of Gordon Ramsay cutting salmon

Now comes the step when skin from salmon is removed. The reason behind removing the skin is that it can give a chewy texture while eating, which many people don’t find appetizing.

For removing the pin bones, one can use tweezers. If you are doing it at home, you can feel those protruding bones easily with your hands. After that, you can use tweezers to remove them.

One of the oldest cooking techniques is smoking, and it’s still used in modern cooking for a variety of purposes. It is a cooking process that exposes food to smoke coming from burning materials.

2. Salting Or Brining Salmon 

Once the bones and skin are removed, the salmon is ready to be brined. Brining is nothing but salting the fish to remove the moisture to prevent the growth of any micro-organisms. 

The brine mix is either straight up salt, or a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices. Salt and sugar kill germs, while spices such as cinnamon and pepper act as antiseptics.

There are two methods of brining, dry brining and liquid brining. In dry brine, only the mixture of sugar and salt is used. On the other hand, in liquid brine, the solution of water, salt, and sugar is used. 

There are two methods of brining, dry brining and liquid brining. In dry brine, only the mixture of sugar and salt is used. On the other hand, in liquid brine, the solution of water, salt, and sugar is used. Dry brining is a more traditional method.

3. Smoking

Smoking helps seal the outer layer of the food being cured, making it more difficult for bacteria to enter. It can be done in combination with other curing methods, such as salting. Smoking is used to cook and preserve the food, or to flavor it. The taste of smoked foods is pretty unique and pleasant.

Wood is the most popular material for smoking. Different flavored wood is used for smoking like oak, maple, pecan, or other fruit tree woods like cherry or apple sometimes beech. Nowadays, we have the option of using wood chips that are flavored.

Best Wood Chips for Electric Smoker 

There are 3 different smoking methods – hot smoking, cold smoking & liquid smoking.

They all affect the food in a different way. Some smoked foods include smoked meats like bacon, turkey, seafood, such as salmon or oysters. We can also smoke salt, spices and fruits too.

How to smoke salt at home

The two common ways to smoke salmon are cold smoke and hot smoke, and both produce different tastes. Let’s find out how these best practices differ below!

Hot Smoked Salmon

In hot smoking, the temperature of the smoker is set in between 140°F to 170° F. You can use any regular smoker like Traeger pellet smoker and any flavored wood chip for this purpose. After that, salmon is smoke for 6-12 hours until its temperature reaches 150°F.

Do You Soak Wood Chips For An Electric Smoker?

In hot smoking, salmon is in fairly close proximity to heat and fire. And that’s the reason why we believe that hot-smoked salmon isn’t raw.

To prevent drying out at high temperatures, salmon is pre-salted with a little salt dissolved in water. This will allow it to absorb some of the natural flavors of the wood as well as maintaining its moistness during the smoking process.

Hot smoking changes the texture, and most certainly kills the pathogens.

Cold Smoked Salmon

For cold smoking, the temperature of the smoker is kept under 80°F, and the salmon is smoked for at least 18 hours.

Unlike hot-smoked, cold-smoked salmon requires a completely different method (curing) called “dry curing” to remove all the moisture. The salmon might be “cured” for up to 24 hours before it is cold smoked.

Here is a step-by-step article on How to Cold Smoke Salmon in an Electric Smoker

How To Smoke Cheese In An Electric Smoker

Cold smoking doesn’t cook the salmon, but gives it a glossy finish and mild smoky flavor. After smoking, the fish goes into the freezer and rests there for a couple of hours.

Cold smoked salmon is a much milder rendition of the classic smoked salmon, as it’s not as smoky as hot-smoked. It also has a much smoother consistency and raw salmon-like appearance, which is perfect for eating raw sushi.

The sort of pink, flexible slices of smoked salmon one usually eats on bagels are cold smoked and therefore raw.

Cold-Smoked Salmon Vs Hot-Smoked Salmon

Both cold and hot smoked salmon taste delicious and are packed with numerous nutritional benefits. To help you differentiate between both of these, here is a comparison table for you.

Comparison FactorsCold Smoked SalmonHot Smoked Salmon
TextureSilky smooth Flaky
ColorA mix of Translucent Pink and orange  Dark orange 
TasteSaltishSmoky BBQ like

Is Smoked Salmon Safe To Eat Without Cooking?

According to Wikipedia:

Cold smoking does not cook the flesh, coagulate the proteins, inactivate food spoilage enzymes, or eliminate the food pathogens, and hence refrigerated storage is necessary until consumption.

However, it then goes on to say:

Traditionally, in the US, cold-smoked fish, other than salmon, is considered “raw” and thus unsafe to consume without cooking.

Personally, I would consider smoked salmon to be uncooked. I think the distinction Wikipedia is making between salmon and other smoked fish is that salmon is the only one that is generally considered safe to eat in the US without cooking.

I’d guess that the reason for this is that salmon is so often prepared this way that the fishing and storage methods involve keeping the fish fresh enough to eat safely without cooking – I’m sure that other fish would be just as safe if it was stored in the same way as salmon.

How to Store Smoked Salmon

So you don’t want to have salmon right after you bought it? Don’t worry, you can easily store it for up to a week after opening it in your refrigerator, and if frozen, it can last for up to 3 months easily. 

Generally, hot smoked salmon lasts longer than cold smoked one.

Health Benefits Of Smoked Salmon

Along with its mouth-watering aroma and delightful taste, salmon is an excellent source of many basic nutrients that a human body needs. 

Consuming salmon every other day can help you combat heart and liver diseases. 

It is the best meal for women going through PCOS as it helps in lowering testosterone in their bodies. 

Following are some health benefits associated with smoked salmon. 

  • Rich In Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that help in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiac disease like a heart attack. Not only this, but salmon also improves the skin texture and makes it look more lustrous. 

  • Full Of Protein

Salmon is full of protein, which is why it is an anti-inflammatory food, great for boosting metabolic activities, and helps in increasing muscle mass. 

So if you are on a diet or doing weight training then Smoked-salmon should be your go-to meal. 

  • Iron-Rich Food

100 g of smoked salmon contains 0.9 mg of Iron which fulfills the 10 percent need of iron of a healthy male adult and 6 percent of a female adult. 

Here’s some Good news If you are consuming Smoked salmon regularly then it’s time to say goodbye to your iron supplements.

Is Cold Smoked Salmon Cooked?

Precisely No, Cold smoked salmon is not cooked, it is raw and only smoked, unlike hot-smoked salmon which is not only smoked but cooked too. 

That’s why you should be careful while consuming cold-smoked salmon to stay away from any sort of foodborne diseases. 

How One Should Eat Smoked Salmon (Cold or Hot)

Well, ideally you should eat hot-smoked salmon hot, and cold-smoked one when it’s cold. 

But again, that depends on taste buds. Some people like hot-smoked salmon in their cold salads, and some prefer to have it in their pasta after warming it up a little bit. 

However, regardless of the smoking method, you can enjoy both varieties right after opening the package with some soy sauce, and it will make you feel as if your taste buds are dancing inside your mouth. 

Is Smoked Salmon Cooked In Sushi

Most of the time, salmon used in sushi is not cooked and it is raw. Most chefs like Hung Huynh prefer using cold-smoked salmon in their sushi rolls, as you can see him making smoked-salmon sushi in this video.

Remember, if your sushi contains hot smoked salmon, then it is cooked and not raw. 

Final Verdict

I hope that now you have got the answer to your query “Is smoked salmon cooked or raw“. To put it simply, one can say that cold-smoked salmon is raw, and hot-smoked salmon is cooked. Smoke salmon is one of the simplest fridge staples to have in for a meal. It can be taken as a snack or used in other dishes and is definitely worth trying.

What is the difference between Gravlax, Lox, and Smoked Salmon?

Lox is brined, gravlax is cured in a sugar and salt mix, while smoked salmon is smoked.
Three nice ways of stretching the edibility of fresh salmon. Or indeed other fish. If you ever happen to have fresh tuna, try the gravlax.

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