Posted on

5 Fish Sandwiches That Are Making Waves——5 Things: 9/20/19)

This week has been quite a ride, with Eric and a handful of others attending the Fortune Fish and Gourmet Expo on Monday, bringing back a whole heck of a lot of chocolate “samples,” which made a great Tuesday morning “breakfast”; a ton of huge delivery and pickup orders throughout the week (on Thursday, they made 130 box lunches by 11am in the basement); and a number of us took sick days this week—hopefully the days off do the trick and the illness ends there—so we were playing with a smaller team this week. And the ride isn’t over. This weekend, we’ll be catering the wedding of a beloved former coworker. Who says all the fun has to stay in Summer?

Last week, I mentioned that five of the top seven bestselling sandwiches at our deli are fish sandwiches, and since I’m approaching this week’s blog somewhat fatigued from making dozens of each of those fish sandwiches respectively this workweek, I have opted to tell you a little bit about each of them, in no particular order.

The Cajun Finn

The sandwich: Haus-baked ciabatta roll, scallion cream cheese, Cajun Smoked Atlantic Salmon, pepperoncini, roasted red pepper, lettuce.

There is not much to say about the Cajun Finn that hasn’t already been said. As a sandwich that easily outpaces the combined sales of half of the other sandwiches on our menu, it doesn’t really need any further advertising. I mean, our marketing department still occasionally invests some time into telling you about it—heck, I’m doing it right now—but the rolling snowball that became an avalanche that is this sandwich became that way primarily through word-of-mouth, both literally, and via its generous inclusion in peoples’ blog posts and social media chatter. A large percentage of our online reviews contain its name, sometimes even the negative reviews leave space for a caveat about the Cajun Finn being our saving grace (apologies to those reviewers for whatever happened to go wrong—likely our wait time on a busy day—but we’re glad you enjoyed the sandwich nonetheless).

The Cajun Finn is available as a sandwich kit.

The Sitka Sushi

The sandwich: Hero roll, wasabi mayo, sriracha, sliced cabbage, cucumber, gravlax, pickled ginger, cilantro, sesame oil & rice vinegar.

The Sitka Sushi: my first favorite Smokehaus sandwich and number-one recommendation. The name and contents are a nod to Eric’s time in Sitka, Alaska. Formerly, we made it with ginger- and lemon-cured Alaskan Sockeye gravlax, which was deeply flavorful, but a little tough and unwieldy. Recently we have switched over to a softer, more buttery, traditional Scandinavian style of gravlax, made with Atlantic salmon, but the sandwich still packs a punch.

Imagine a rich musical chord, composed of interwoven consonances (cabbage and gravlax, bread and oil, cucumber) and dissonances (wasabi mayo and sriracha, cilantro and pickled ginger), rolled from the bass up the highest note, then sustained, with hidden, aleatoric melodies discovering themselves and chiming out all the while. Then, transpose that chord into a flavor pallet, and imagine every bite—thoroughly savored—as a new re-rolling of that chord.

That’s how the Sitka Sushi hits.

The Slammin’ Gordon

The sandwich: Naan, Smoked Salmon Pâté, diced tomatoes & cucumbers, cilantro, lettuce, olive oil & rice vinegar.

When I began working at Northern Waters Smokehaus, there was a sandwich called the Salmon Garden. Within days (it seemed), the sign for that sandwich had two vowels scribbled over, and became the Salmon Gordon. A few months passed, and then we had the Slammin’ Gordon on our hands, and everyone just pretended like nothing happened. Here ends the very incomplete, abridged history of the sandwich formerly known as the Salmon Garden.

Smoked Salmon Pâté is delightful, due in part to the blend of our haus Salmon seasonings—dill, cajun, black pepper & coriander—working as a team to bring you this flavor, which is rounded out with garlic, lemon juice and horseradish. So if you spread it on our most decadent bread option—not only is the naan incredibly soft and pillowy, but also quite buttery—something good is bound to happen. The veggies and greens give enough of a nod to health-consciousness that it doesn’t just feel like dessert.

The Northern Bagel

The sandwich: Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, scallion cream cheese, Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon or gravlax.

This sandwich is great because it its simplicity of form belies its complexity of flavor. Lake Superior Bakehouse Bagels are so good you could probably just take a bite out of an uncut, un-toasted one and have a decent time. Add to that the sweetness and pungency of Traditional Smoked Atlantic Salmon, or buttery, spice-infused gravlax, and round it off with the earthy umami of scallion cream cheese, and your mouth and olfactory system have some serious flavors to sort out. Furthermore, it reads as a breakfast sandwich, eats like lunch, and isn’t half bad at the end of the day either.

The Northern Bagel is also available as a Sandwich Kit.

The Great Summer Caper

The sandwich: Lake Superior Bakehouse bagel, scallion cream cheese, capers, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Atlantic Salmon, red onion, tomato, lettuce.

I have to say—delicious as this sandwich is, I still remain skeptical of it. For starters, it’s a very seasonal name, and yet—it persists on our board, due to sales. Secondly, it is a very tall stack of ingredients, which are very delicious together, but once stacked and cut in half, like to fall over—which is fine if presentation is unimportant, but ultimately a challenge in the middle of a rush. Still, this is a fantastic stack of ingredients. It’s the mature version of the Northern Bagel.

A final note:

Tomorrow (Saturday, September 21st) at the Friends of the Boundary Waters Fundraiser, they’ll be auctioning off a special NWS prize: the rights to name a new smoked salmon sandwich on our menu, which will run through Spring 2020. I can’t wait to see Fishy McFishface on the menu.

Posted on

5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
Posted on

A New Bearing: Smokehaus Smoked Atlantic Salmon and True North

a piece of smoked Atlanitc salmon cut into slices on a wooden board

By Fiona O’Halloran-Johnson, NWSH Sustainability Chief and smoked Atlantic Salmon lover

Here at the Smokehaus we go through a lot of fish, specifically smoked Atlantic salmon. It goes on our sandwiches both at the deli and the restaurant, on catering platters, it’s shipped straight to your door, or goes home in your bag on your way out of Duluth.

For many years we have been committed to providing you with delicious smoked fish and smoked meats, while adhering to sustainable practices throughout the business – from composting to bike delivery. We have been working on creating programs to decrease our overall waste and impact here at home, but that’s not enough. We have a responsibility to know about our meat and fish, not just the process of how we make it so tasty, but where it comes from.

We are one of the largest buyers of Atlantic salmon in the United States. Yes, our humble little shop buys more Atlantic salmon than restaurants in New York, or huge resorts in California. With this, we have felt a responsibility to look for a sustainable source of salmon that could keep up with our high demands. Prior to the switch, we have been getting Atlantic salmon off the coast of Chile.  While there were many positive attributes to this salmon, simply the length of travel was enough for us to realize we needed a more sustainable source.

We began to look for an option closer to home, but we were not willing to compromise our commitment to sustainable aquatic farming. There is so much that can go wrong when farming fish, from assuring water is not permanently polluted, to making sure the fish are not carrying disease, such as sea lice, that can be transferred to the native populations of aquatic life. We also wanted product that was not full of chemicals, dyes and hormones. We had set our standards pretty high.

And then we found True North.

We are thrilled to announce that we are now selling  Smoked Atlantic Salmon made from True North Salmon Company, a family owned company based out of New Brunswick, Canada. This is exciting for us because we have been concerned about our environmental impact on aquatic life for some time now.   

True North is certified to the Best Aquaculture Practices and the British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety.

True North is the quintessential sustainable fish farm.

True North uses ocean pens, but rotates crops regularly and uses a fallowing system to ensure that the water and ocean floor rest in between crops. They also stock their salmon in pens at a rate of less than 2% percent of the volume of the pen, which means these salmon have plenty of room to swim around freely and develop healthy muscle tissues naturally.  Their fish also grow on a natural cycle, with no growth hormones, taking two years for the fish to make it to market.

True North is committed to finding fish food that is made sustainably. They use fish meal and oil that are byproducts of fish that is harvested for human consumption, maintaining equilibrium in the local aquatic life. True North has decreased its carbon footprint by using fuel-efficient trucks, and driving a little slower to reduce their carbon emissions when transporting their fish. With their commitment to preserving fresh water they also have a water recycling and filtration system at their freshwater hatcheries. They have also invested in shipping boxes that are made from 100% recycled material.

We are excited about our new Atlantic salmon provider, and we’re excited about taking another big step towards consuming smoked Atlantic  salmon responsibly so we can keep making all your delicious snacks for years to come.

For more information, please peruse:

True North Atlantic Salmon

BAP