Just after noon on Wednesday, the aroma of smoked salmon filled the main foyer of the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. Lining the countertops was a plethora of salmon species and fillets, all smoked to varying degrees, using different recipes – ready for lunch time sampling. The fish was the result of a three day seafood smoking workshop, hosted by KSMSC and put on through the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs has more.
This was the fifth time the smoked seafood course was offered in Kodiak. The workshop allows anyone interested in smoking or processing fish a hands-on experience in fish smoking, using different recipes and methods. Alexandra Oliveira is an associate professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and helped teach parts of the workshop.
Oliveira said the course focuses on a variety of aspects of fish smoking, including filleting, curing, cold smoking, hot-smoking, processing fish sausage, sanitation and chemical analysis of salt content.
“And that’s part of regulatory process. We have several people from Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation here. They’re all inspectors or managers and so it’s an important step for them to learn first hand the technique.”
After three days of learning, the students, who come from all over the state, country and world, the students were able to sample all of their creations.
“So this is some salmon sausage, there’s two recipes here. This is a recipe we developed the students made a variation of it with a higher kick – more spices. Here is an assortment of hot-smoked products. Students have a lot of flexibility to develop their recipes in groups and try new things or put to work things they learn at home.”
Four different species of salmon are used, which Oliveira said were purchased locally from Ocean Beauty Seafoods.
“The salmon sausage is made with pink salmon, we have here hot-smoked chums, hot-smoked cohos, cold smoked sockeye, hot-smoked sockeye and cold smoked cohos.”
Jim Moore works for the Alaska Department of Conservation and took the course last year. This year he said he returned to help teach portions of the workshop, specifically dealing with safety and sanitation of seafood handling.
“From bringing the fish and making sure the fish are fresh and not in any kind of decomposition and that they’re handled correctly and they’re rinsed and ready to be filleted and everything and everybody is using clean, sanitized utensils. Making sure the water is good and the temperatures are correct and everybody is doing all the good sanitation – hair nets, gloves, hand washing – everything that goes with keeping the product wholesome throughout the whole process.”
Moore said he’s always impressed by the variety of folks that make the trek to Kodiak for the workshop.
“You kind of get an array of everybody. There’s the regulators like ourself and also the FDA, we have one person from the FDA here this year who’s taking the class. Some people are in the industry already and they’re just looking for different processes and other people, yeah, they’re kind of mom and pop start ups that want to get into the business and get the techniques down, they want to know what’s really involved. And I believe the class even kind of helps them with marketing and kind of what’s the cost going to be – bringing raw material in and then smoking it, because smoking fish is very labor intensive.”
Jenny Petersen was one of 10 participants in this year’s workshop and came from Nak Nek.
“I’m considering starting up a small processing facility in Bristol Bay and so I just thought I would come and learn from the best here and see what the food scientists had to say about smoking salmon and just learn as much as I could about it before I jumped in.” Petersen said it was an awesome course, and definitely worth the trip to Kodiak.
“It was a good mix of education, hands on activities and then also just getting to meet people who are involved in the industry or the process of it all. This class in particular had a lot of the DEC inspectors so getting to see it from a regulatory stand point was really interesting and probably also very beneficial for someone who is just starting up.”
The course is offered throughout the year, but typically limited to 15 people – which is the about how many can comfortably fit and work in the marine science center’s pilot plant.