When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
food / travel

How A Russian Tsar's Secret Made Switzerland A Smoked Salmon Paradise

A Swiss mountaintop is not the place you'd expect the "world's best smoked salmon" to come from. But the Balik farm sends its perfectly sliced and salted catch around the world, thanks to a secret recipe handed down fro

Knife expert slice the salmon at Balik farm (maiak.info)
Knife expert slice the salmon at Balik farm (maiak.info)

EBERSOL - A narrow, winding road leads up to Ebersol, a hamlet lost in the eastern Swiss mountains some 920 meters above sea level. Norwegian deliverymen must be astonished to find a salmon farm so far away from the fish's natural environment…

The chalet of the Balik farm is enchanting. The air of the Toggenburg valley, always brisk. The water of the Thur river, clear and fresh. The calm, absolute.

Nothing here could suggest that 24 employees produce smoked salmon for European, American, Japanese and Middle Eastern clients. But it's in the Balik farm that the reputedly "best smoked salmon in the world" is produced, following an ancestral method that dates back to the last tsars of Russia.

Hans Gerd Kübel, the owner of the farm in Ebersol and founder of Balik, is also the man behind the secret recipe: back in 1978, on a trip to Berlin, he met Israel Kaplan, the Russian grandson of the last official salmon supplier of the Russian Court --the only living person to know the Russian method to smoke salmon. The two men got along so great that Kaplan shared with Kübel the time-honored secret to a refined, subtly salted and delicately smoked salmon.

In 1993, Hans Gerd Kübel rode to Geneva on his Harley-Davidson to meet up with Peter Rebeiz, head of Caviar House (today Caviar House & Prunier)... with smoked salmon in the side satchels of his motorbike. Although at first Kübel and Rebeiz seem to be on different wavelengths, their common love for arts finally sealed the deal.

The Russian method is unique in this business as it relies entirely on man's know-how and never resorts to machines. Salting, hand filleting, cold smoking following a closely guarded process, and finally skillfully cutting tranches. The "journey" takes four days for each of the 60,000 salmons that arrive each year to Ebersol, an eternity compared to other "smoked salmon factories ."

With a shelf life of less than three weeks, the product doesn't allow storage. Supply is thus closely linked to demand.

Ways of producing salmon have evolved over time, even for the Swiss farm -- but the method of smoking salmon is still the same. Balik's know-how is 100% traditional. The water of the Toggenburg valley does the rest.

Read the original article in French by Emmanuel Garessus

Photo – maiak.info

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Benefits Of "Buongiorno"

Our Naples-based psychiatrist reflects on her morning walk to work, as she passes by people who simply want to see a friendly smile.

Photograph of a woman looking down onto the street from her balcony in Naples

A woman looks down from her balcony in Naples

Ciro Pipoli/Instagram
Mariateresa Fichele

In Naples, lonely people leave their homes early in the morning. You can tell they're lonely by the look in their eyes. Mostly men, often walking a dog, typically mixed breeds that look as scruffy as their owners. You see them heading to the coffee bar, chatting with the newsstand owner, buying cigarettes, timidly interacting with each another.

This morning as I was going to work, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I woke up tired and moody, but as soon as I left the building, I felt compelled, like every day, to say to dozens of "buongiorno!" (good morning!) and smile in return just as many times.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest