How to slice salmon and how to stop pizza dough shrinking

If you can't see the knife through the fish flesh, you're cutting it too thickly.
If you can't see the knife through the fish flesh, you're cutting it too thickly. Photo: Georgina Palmer

I am buying a side of smoked salmon for Christmas. How should I slice it? L. Ling

Freshly sliced smoked salmon tastes better than the pre-cut stuff. When you cut the flesh, the smoke aroma has time to dissipate and the fat in the salmon starts to oxidise. To slice a side of salmon, place it on a board. Assuming you're right-handed, place the head end or thick end to your right, skin side down. Remove any small bones by feeling along the flesh for bones and gently pulling them out with fish tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Take a very sharp, long knife and, starting near the tail, cut along the flesh with the knife held almost horizontal, sawing gradually down towards the skin at an angle. Cut away the slice of flesh just before you reach the skin. Remember if you can't see the knife through the fish flesh, you're cutting it too thickly. You can hold the fish steady by gently placing your left hand on the thick end. It feels clumsy but it is safe. The first slice is generally not served as it is toughened by the smoke. Continue to slice towards the head end using short knife strokes and very little pressure. Some prefer to trim the dark flesh from the bottom of the slices. Arrange slices on a plate and serve with horseradish, perhaps some small capers and a little very finely chopped onion.

What is kosher salt? H. Wild

You have to read the Old Testament. It makes Game of Thrones look like Neighbours in fur. There is so much carnage, vengeance and smiting. Leviticus is really cool. It even tells you what to eat. One verse reads, "Morever, ye shall eat no manner of blood whether it be of fowl, or of beast, in any of your dwellings." It also says that you can't eat meat from animals that "dieth themselves" or "any flesh that is torn by beasts of the fields". "Kosher" describes the foods that satisfy Jewish food laws derived from Leviticus as found in the Torah and Old Testament. Coarse-grained salt is used to draw blood from meat to make it kosher – fine salt would dissolve and overly large grains would not stay on the meat. The salt itself is not kosher but a kosher food processing aid. When a recipe calls for kosher salt, I use the grey, slightly damp coarse Celtic sea salt or similar.

Restaurant review Pizza margarita at Social & Co. Photo Jay Cronan

Be careful not to overwork pizza dough. Photo: Jay Cronan

When I roll out my pizza dough it shrinks back to its original size. How do I prevent this? V. Moss

Shrinkage happens to us all at some time in our lives and is nothing to be embarrassed about. To help you out I called in one of the big guns, the pizza-focused dough master from Melbourne's SPQR Pizzeria, Ettore Bertonati. He said, in his beautifully accented Italian, "This happen when dough turn too much in machine. Or dough machine turn too fast. Or you use too much olive oil and dough become too elastic. Or use too much flour in recipe or you use cold dough to stretch." He suggests you use only type 00 flour and allow the dough to come to room temperature from the fridge at least three hours before rolling out. Be careful not to overwork the dough or the gluten will become too strong and pull back when stretched.