First Nations are famed for their incredible smoked salmon and have exported the flavourful products of this tradition throughout the world. The Stó:lō have an exemplary tradition of smoked salmon, especially in areas that are less appropriate for drying. The fish is smoked in a smoke house-a structure which is enclosed on all sides and has small openings at the top to allow the smoke to slowly escape.

Smoking salmon usually involves a small amount of salt curing and a long stay in the smoke house prior to storage. First, the salmon is cut dorsally (along the back) about one centimetre from the spine on both sides. The spine and tail are removed, as well as the innards. Next, the fish is washed thoroughly and allowed to drain. The salmon is then salted and stacked, leaving the fish to sit for at least five hours to cure, or overnight for a saltier fish. After the salting, each fish is skewed horizontally and then hung from the poles of the smoke house. The length of time a fish is smoked depends a great deal on what the intended use of the fish will be. In the past, the salmon were kept over the fire to smoke for more than a week. This long smoking period allowed the fish to be stored without risk of spoilage. Today, the Stó:lō people will often smoke the fish for only 24 hours and then store it in a freezer.


(64.0 KB)The preparation of salmon for smoking.
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