Being married to a commercial fisherman has its downsides for the wife who stays home to look after the house and pets. Spending long summers alone takes getting used to. I read a lot in the evenings.
All the yardwork is my very own to deal with. No help from the absentee man of the house.
I’ve learned to do a lot of jobs that are usually considered the man’s responsibility — jobs most women don’t ever have to deal with (like changing the electrical switch for the burner on the cooktop when it starts coming on by itself and it’s Sunday and there’s no repairman available).
I stay home a lot because there’s no one to look after the pets if I were to leave town for a day or so. Sure, there’s always the kennels, but the dogs have asked me please not to leave them again.
But when the fisherman comes home, all of the above has been worth it.
Among other things, it’s the fisherman’s duty to bring home a few of the salmon he’s caught so the poor deprived fishwife can have a taste of seafood. It just happens that the fisherman has learned how to make an excellent cold-smoked salmon product. Some people like smoked salmon done in a hot smoke so the fish is cooked as well as smoked. Some people like it done “lox” style, where it is cured with salt and sugar and then lightly smoked while cool air is blown over it with a fan. We like both, but prefer the cold smoke.
The preparation is a huge amount of work. The salmon has to be filleted, and alternately salted, sugared, air dried, oiled, and “rummed,” The fisherman enjoys the last part best where the oil is removed by wiping the fish down with rum. Sometimes the air is a bit nippy, so what else can you do but have a nip of rum to keep the chill off? If it’s good for the fish, it’s probably good for the fisherman too.
The sides of salmon are hung in the smoker. Underneath is a hot plate where woodchips dampened with water are set to smoke. A fan blows the air around so the smoke tars don’t settle on the fish. You can see the fan hiding in the center of the smoker behind and below the two door latches. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, it can take up to 20 – 22 hours of smoking to cure the fish. When it is done and chilled, the bulk of the fish is cut into smaller pieces to be vacuum packed and frozen for use throughout the year.
Of course we always save a piece for the test kitchen. We have to be sure it’s okay to eat.Thinly sliced, it is put on a piece of bagel with cream cheese and red onion slices. Nothing tastes quite so good.