I spent a week in the fishing hamlet of Petersburg in Southeast Alaska a few years ago. Every day that I was in town for breakfast, I stopped by Coastal Cold Storage for a smoked-salmon breakfast sandwich on an English muffin.
This sandwich is made with hot-smoked wild Alaska salmon, a home-pack specialty item for many Alaskans that carries a smoky flavor and makes it a perfect substitute for ham or bacon. You can buy it nationwide at Trader Joe’s or well-stocked fish markets.
There are a few styles of smoked salmon, but they are not to be confused with lox, which is not smoked at all.
• Hot-smoked salmon is cooked through and has a distinct smoky flavor, more like bacon or ham, because it is smoked with heat. This is how smoked bluefish, smoked mussels or smoked scallops are prepared.
• Cold-smoked salmon (exposed to smoke in an 80-degree environment, so the salmon isn’t cooked during the process) includes Nova-style, which is cold-smoked after it’s brined. It was so named because Nova Scotia once supplied much of the Northeast with prepared salmon; Scotch or Scottish-style salmon is dry-brined with spices, sugars and other seasonings, which are rinsed off before cold-smoking; Nordic-style is typically salt cured, rinsed and cold-smoked.
• Lox comes from the Yiddish word for salmon, laks. It is traditionally made from salmon belly and brined (but not smoked or cooked). Gravlax or gravad lax is the Scandinavian preparation of salmon that includes spices, herbs and sugars but no smoking.
4 English muffins (recipe below)
4 ounces sharp cheddar, sliced
8 ounces hot-smoked salmon
Butter for frying the eggs
Hot sauce (optional)
Fork-split the English muffins, cover half with the cheddar and broil until the cheese is melted.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Crack four eggs into the pan, turn heat down to medium and use a spatula or pancake rings to keep the eggs from spreading too much in the pan. You want them to be the right size for your English muffins. When the whites are cooked through, turn the eggs over in the pan. Add the hot-smoked salmon to the pan, and turn off the heat.
Remove the English muffins from the toaster, dot the plain half with butter and stack with your over-medium egg and skillet-warmed hot-smoked salmon. Add a few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot, Cholula or Tabasco and enjoy.
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread flour or white whole wheat flour (for the best results, measure by weight, 23-27.5 ounces)
2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine or quick yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal for dusting
In a small saucepan, warm the milk and honey over low heat until it reaches 110 degrees F. Set aside for 5 minutes, then whisk in the egg and melted butter.
Add 5 cups (23 ounces) of flour, the yeast and the salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the milk mixture. Continue to beat on low until the flour is incorporated, stop and scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, slowly add up to another half cup (4.5 ounces) of flour until it is smooth but not dry. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for 4 minutes.
Scrape the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Brush a little over the top of the dough. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently, adding just enough flour to make it easy to handle. Divide the dough in half, putting one half back into the oiled bowl. Roll out the first half to about a half-inch thickness and cut with a round biscuit cutter or glass the size you prefer for your English muffins. Roll out the remaining dough and repeat.
Place the disks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat that has been dusted with cornmeal. Baste the tops with oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Remove the plastic wrap and dust the tops with more cornmeal.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat a griddle over medium-low heat. Gently lift each disk with a spatula and place it on the griddle, being careful not to deflate the dough. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Place the muffins back on the cookie sheet and bake them for 8 minutes.
Split the English muffins with a fork and serve warm or toasted. These can be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in a zip-top bag, and frozen for up to 3 months.
(Based on a recipe from Baked by an Introvert)