Seafood Charcuterie – a novel approach from Campsie Glen Smokehouse
Campsie Glen Smokehouse, a new venture set up just north of Glasgow, Scotland, is due to open in early May, producing a range of high quality seafood charcuterie. “This is a new concept for the U.K. seafood market and a definite first for Scotland,” said Managing Director Duncan Smith.
“To start with I will be producing an original range of smoked salmon, trout and halibut using three distinctive cures, named Island, Highland and Lowland. The tastes of these will represent the regions they come from. For instance, the Island cure uses Hebridean sea salt and seaweed, giving it a real tang of the sea.
“The next stage is to introduce a malt whisky-cured range using malt whiskies from the three regions, and a cured and dried unsmoked range,” he said.
Raw material is being sourced from reputable Scottish suppliers, who pay attention to animal welfare and use sustainably-sourced feed, which should satisfy the most discerning of customer.
Smith explained that he has placed the emphasis firmly on the curing and drying of his fish, using a new production process. “The smoking part is the easiest; 80 percent of the tasting experience comes from the cure, which makes it the hardest!” he said.
“To ensure it is just right, we cure for up to seven days, and this gives our products a noticeably different taste and texture. The process I have developed ensures a dry product, totally unlike the moist smoked salmon people are used to eating, but it is equally if not more delicious.”
“The new process also ensures a consistency that can be difficult to maintain with conventional production methods, and this is important to me because I want my product to be on the shelves for the long-term,” he said.
Smith has been working on the concept for the past two years, following 20 years in the smoked seafood business.
His inspiration comes both from a childhood spend in the Outer Hebrides before refrigeration, where dried and cured meat and fish was the norm, and from a love of air-dried ham such as Pata Negra and Iberico from Spain.
“I have seen seafood charcuterie in the United States, but no one was producing it in the U.K. and I thought why not? I think the market is ready for something different, as people get more and more interested in the provenance and production methods of the food they eat.”
Smith explained that developing the new products has involved a lot of trial and error but he is now certain that the three cures are just as he wants them.
“I have used a local farm shop to test out the finalized products and have been encouraged by the fact that everyone who has tried them likes all three cures equally,” he said.
The products are aimed at gourmet food delicatessens, high end retailers, and white tablecloth restaurants in the U.K. and overseas. Smith is heading to Seafood Expo Global (Brussels) next week, to start the process of talking to international buyers. An online retail facility will follow later in the year, in time for the Christmas market.
“I am not rushing these products onto the market but aim to build up slowly. I have put a lot of time and effort into this project and want to see it succeed,” he said.
As well as perfecting his product, Smith has put a great deal of thought into developing the Campsie Glen Smokehouse packaging. Product is displayed on a black board, with a clear front on which two distinctive brand labels are affixed. The back tells the story of the brand and the thinking behind the different cures. The result is striking to the eye and in keeping with Smith’s aim to market his products as a high quality offering.
“I joke to people that this project is the result of a 20-year gap analysis, but all the time I was in the commercial side of smoked salmon production, I dreamed of creating something different. It’s great to be able to take the opportunity to do so and I hope my future customers agree!”