Ole Hansen is a ‘Fish Alchemist’, pure and simple. If you’ve had the pleasure of tasting his smoked salmon then you’ll wholeheartedly agree. An intensely delicious, strong-coloured and smooth textured fish. If you haven’t then may I suggest you get yourself down to Maltby Street or Broadway Market, pronto.
Ole has adopted his grandfather’s trade and replicated the smokehouse he established in Norway in 1923. So, in a cul-de-sac in Stoke Newington he turned the boiler room of a former printing works into a salmon smoker.
It’s here he hangs salmon and slowly cold-smokes it in the brick-kiln for 12 hours. Inside this chamber he has recreated the humidity and temperature of Kirkenes and the hanging fish is subjected to a strong “wind” (speed-controlled motor driven fans) which helps the flavour migrate through the entire flesh. He uses a unique blend of 100% pure juniper and beech wood – sourced from his brother’s farm back in Norway – and it’s this blend that gives the salmon its unique flavour. You won’t find an electric fire in here it’s wood and that is what makes the fish taste as good as it does.
The salmon is sent overnight from Scotland and each fish is hand filleted and de-boned first thing in the morning. After the fish is salted and cured for 6-7 hours, the smoking process begins.
The fish is never frozen or allowed anywhere near plastic, fact it’s banned. Obviously unopened vacuum packed fish lasts a lot longer, but once opened will last three days at best. Ole packs his in greaseproof paper and will keep for about ten days.
The other thing about Ole’s signature salmon is that he doesn’t razor cut it and after tasting many samples of fish I now understand why. It’s how it’s served in Norway and thick cut means that you really get to sample all the flavours from the smokey surface layer to the flesh nearest the skin.
Ole is absolutely the most passionate artisan fish smoker I have had the pleasure to meet and he’s happy to pass that on to anyone who wants to come and see the smokehouse. He’ll even organise for you to visit if you email him firstname.lastname@example.org
His fish is beyond delicious but don’t take my word for it why not that of Kopappa’s Peter Gordon who is a regular and the restaurants Nopi, Viajante and Season to name but a few.
You can even hire Ole to entertain your dinner guests. He’ll hand carve from whole sides of smoked salmon, and will give you a colourful potted history of the art of H&L.
Sustainable, smoked, salmon made with love and handled with care.
Hansen & Lydersen Ltd, 3-5 Shelford Place, London N16 9HS
07411 693 712