Smoking is one of the oldest methods of preserving fish. Long before there were refrigerators and freezers, our fishing ancestors learned to use a combination of salt and smoke to keep fish from spoiling. Today, smoking is no longer necessary but it remains popular for the flavor it gives to such fish as salmon.
Smoking methods vary but all are based on a few common principles. First, the fish is treated with salt, either in the form of a strong brine or a surface coating of dry salt. During this curing stage (which can last for anywhere from a few minutes to many hours depending on the size and density of the fish), a two-way exchange takes place, with much of the moisture drawn out of the fish and some salt soaking in.This combination of reduced moisture and salt inhibits the growth of spoilage bacteria, a basic principle of all cured meats.
After curing, the fish is rinsed to remove the salt and other curing ingredients from the surface,then allowed to dry in cool flowing air until a shiny, slightly tacky skin (pellicle) forms on the surface. The actual smoking takes place inside a chamber filled with smoke from smoldering hardwood. Cheena uses Alder wood chips. During the cold-smoking, the fish is slowly smoked for several hours at low temperatures so it remains especially moist and tender.
For retort smoked salmon, after the same preparation as cold smoking, the fillets are placed in gold pouches and hot smoked or "cooked" at high temperature in its own juice.
Cheena Smoked Salmon uses no additives, preservatives or coloring agents.