Mamaroneck Chef Brett Portier’s Smoked Salmon

How The Smokehouse of NY’s smokes the competition

When two editors were piling smoked salmon onto their appetizer plates recently at an event at Tarry Market in Port Chester, they had what we like to call at Westchester Magazine a “BOW moment.”

What’s that, you ask? It’s when you happen upon something Best of Westchester-worthy. It usually happens when you least expect it. Your car is fixed correctly with shockingly good service at a fair price. You have a lobster roll that tops the one you had in New England in July. Your hair comes out better than even you had envisioned—halfway decent.

In any case, it turns out the smoked salmon was from The Smokehouse of NY, which happens to have already won a BOW in 2012. So even if the BOW moment was somewhat null and void (hey, at least it affirmed our past picks), the fish was so good that we figured we’d at least find out why it’s so good.

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Turns out the Mamaroneck smokehouse has been open for 34 years, and is now in the hands of the second-generation owner (it’s a family biz), Brett Portier. The techniques he uses to source and smoke are old fashioned and well honed.

“The most important element is the ingredients,” says Portier. “We import all of our salmon from Norway and Scotland. They have a lot better methods for raising the fish. It’s 100 percent all-natural, and fish raised in Europe uses low-density pen counts, meaning there are fewer salmon in one space.” That means the fish are healthier when they’re harvested, so they have lower mercury/toxin levels, and are less disease prone. Portier says that with the recent rise in prices for salmon, many smokers have resorted to corner cutting, ordering pre-cut filets from Scotland, or in some cases diseased fish from the west coast. Many are artificially flavoring the fish with liquid smokes or smoke salts.

“We have it flown into New York,” he says. “We get the fish fresh and whole so we can see the quality by checking their gills, their eyes, etc.” Then it’s brought to Mamaroneck, where it’s smoked using real hickory wood chips. All the fish is then hand sliced—there’s no machinery involved. This is practically unheard of nowadays. And probably why Smokehouse’s smoked salmon is so unquestionably delicious.

Smokehouse supplies about 75 percent of country clubs in the metropolitan area, along with DeCicco’s and Fairway Markets. But you can also check out their retail store in Mamaroneck. It’s worth a visit.

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