Smoked salmon is typically a fillet that has been cured and then hot or cold smoked. Due to its moderately high price, smoked salmon is considered a delicacy. Since salmon is a large and fatty fish, it’s an excellent fish for smoking, which gives it a very distinct, smoky flavor and light texture. There are two ways to prepare smoked salmon, either cold-smoked or hot-smoked, which are very different.
Cold-smoked salmon is usually frozen first to kill parasites and is not cooked, but salt cured, usually in a flavored brine, then air-dried in a cool place to allow the smoke to penetrate. It’s then smoked at a very low heat to lend a smoky flavor and a silken texture best for salads, appetizers, on bagels and other cold preparations.
Hot-smoked salmon can be served hot or cold because it’s actually slow-cooked and is best in such things as eggs, pastas, and potato dishes. The process of hot smoking salmon is similar to cold-smoked, cured or not, but it is slowly cooked in a smoker, making it similar to cooked fresh salmon.