Is it a selfie if I’m taking a photo of my own smoked salmon, bearing my name? Certainly I’m a big fan of a trout pout – but preferably on a fish. Instagram is many things to different people, but for The Pished Fish it’s a way of sharing our booze infused products, smokehouse processes and pictures of fish that makes this our preferred social medium.
It was over this crowded platform that our posts met, and it is always flattering when a fellow fish smoker comments on your products despite how dubious the quality of the picture may be. @nycmastersmoker (or Pete) is not as his name suggests based in New York City, but has relocated to Los Angeles to spread his skills to another audience on a different coast line. He is the resident fish smoker at Wexler's Deli (@wexlersdeli) based out of Santa Monica. We had exchanged a few messages of support for each other’s smokey salmon when it transpired that Mrs Pished Fish and myself would be passing through LA on our honeymoon, so we said we’d try and meet up. Quite what Pete thought about a salmon smoker travelling several thousand miles to say “hi”, I’m not sure, but we made some loose plans to get together. We happened to end up staying in Santa Monica, an unplanned convenience as LA is not the kind of city you want to have to travel from one side to another.
We met Pete at Wexler’s Deli on Santa Monica Boulevard, the day before we were due to head back home from our indulgent month away from the smokehouse. I’m no interior designer, all I know is I’d like my house to look like Wexler’s. Pete, an ex – New Yorker was of course super cool and gave us a tour of his kitchen as we discussed the merits of different smokers and got to see how his process worked. The thing that is amazing about smoked salmon is that there are so many different ways to get to your end result, and no two peoples’ are the same. Most are very closely guarded secrets as well. Pete has way more experience than me, and so it was great to see a true experts’ system in progress.
We ain’t just talkin’ salmon either.
Wexler’s have a full menu of smoked fish - with trout, white fish and sturgeon all making an appearance.
Pete smokes just about everything, and after we had sampled some private stock I was generously treated to a smorgasbord from the menu. Wow! The food in the States is pretty epic, but this, along with some ribs in Memphis, was hands down the best food I had all trip.
It’s not often I’m defeated by a plate of fine smoked fish, but in this instance Pete got me. A real highlight was the pastrami lox, not just because we’re fans of messing around with other flavours with our salmon, but because it was truly awesome, just the right balance of salt, fat and spices for my taste – I’ll have to find a way to add booze to the mix, maybe a pepper vodka…? It was also so refreshing to have it served properly with red onion and capers rather than the generic lemon and black pepper that we’re so used to in the UK.
The real pleasure was meeting Pete and the team at Wexler’s, what a welcoming and hospitable bunch. We’re looking forward to comparing notes on smokehouses over the coming months, and maybe I should try and find room for some Booze Infused Smoked Sturgeon on our roster as well.
Cheers for having us guys!
Wexler’s Deli is at: 616 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 or 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Follow Pete @nycmastersmoker
Follow Wexler’s Deli @wexlersdeli