Letang, New Brunswick, just north of Grand Manan Island on the Bay of Fundy is the home of Wolfhead Smokers, purveyors of fine smoked salmon products. So we called them up, ordered some fish, and set a date with a couple of our “foodie” friends for a maritime feast.
In 1981 George (Skip) and Karen Wolf started Jail Island Salmon, one of the first Atlantic salmon farms in North America. This company was the first Canadian salmon producer to market its fresh salmon under its own brand. In 1985 George and Karen started smoking some of their own salmon as a value added product. In 1998 they sold their shares in the farming operation, but retained the growing smoking division and renamed it Wolfhead Smokers.
The smokehouse is in the original Jail Island processing plant, located on a secluded cove off the Bay of Fundy in southwest New Brunswick. The salmon is cold smoked according to a traditional Scottish recipe. Taking their time, they start with premium fresh fillets which are dry salted and cured, then smoked very slowly at a low temperature before further curing. The result is a rich, buttery texture on the tongue and no strong salty or fishy flavours.
We also tried the “hot smoked” salmon, which is double smoked. Cracked pepper is sprinkled on the salt cured fillets before they are cold smoked. Then the temperature is turned up so that the fish is actually cooked as it is being smoked. The texture is firm, and the fish is moist, smoky and rich tasting. I took a private moment to savour this one and to recover from the exquisite sensory experience!
Wolfhead Smokers has been accused of adding a secret ingredient to make their products addictive. We were unable to confirm these assertions.
Most of the smoked salmon is shipped to fish markets and distributors in New Brunswick, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Toronto and can be found in specialty shops and fine restaurants. In 2007, NB Premier Shawn Graham hosted the Canadian Premiers’ Conference. He sent his invitations to each Canadian Premier inside a Wolfhead cedar gift box along with packages of smoked salmon.
For the past ten years, Wolfhead has participated in the annual World Wine & Food Expo in Moncton, NB, and 2011 will be their ninth straight year as the official smoked salmon supplier at the NB Spirit Festival in Fredericton.
Our delivery arrived by FedEx in an insulated box with frozen gel packs. Karen told us on the phone to try pairing the salmon with Glen Breton single malt whisky from Nova Scotia, so that’s what we did. She said that after they toured the distillery they tried Glen Breton with their smoked salmon and loved it. At our dinner, one of our dinner mates also brought a Cave de Hoen Heimberger Crémant d’Alsace, a French Brut Rosé which was very good, but you could just as easily pair it with a Niagara or British Columbia Brut if you wanted to go all-Canadian. As I expected, whether it was washed down with wine or whisky, there wasn’t a single morsel of salmon left when we were done.
If you order from Wolfhead, be sure to leave at least a week for delivery, more in the busy holiday season. They can be reached toll-free at 877-965-3432 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the good folks at Tourism New Brunswick.