Pellicle (cooking)

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A pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meat, fish or poultry, which allow smoke to better adhere the surface of the meat during the smoking process. Useful in all smoking applications and with any kind of animal protein, it is best used with fish where the flesh of, say, salmon, forms a pellicle, the surface that will attract more smoke to adhere to it than would be the case if you had not used it. Without a pellicle; the fish would be inedibly dry from enough smoking to produce a tasty finished product. It is the pellicle which permits the transformation creating delectable smoked salmon.

Pellicle formation[edit]

Before cured foods are smoked, they should be allowed to air-dry long enough to form a tacky skin, known as a pellicle. The pellicle plays a key role in producing excellent smoked items. It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food, and also plays an important role in capturing the smoke’s flavor and color.

Most foods can be properly dried by placing them on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks. It is important that air be able to flow around all sides. They should be air-dried uncovered, in the refrigerator or a cool room. To encourage pellicle formation, you can place the foods so that a fan blows air over them. The exterior of the item must be sufficiently dry if the smoke is to adhere.

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