"Fish is not part of the barbecue canon," says Oklahoma Joe's Director of Marketing Doug Worgul. "But I always say that [co-owner] Jeff [Stehney] is very much an innovative traditionalist."
The salmon, imported from Chile, is cured for 36 hours before a housemade dry rub is applied. It then marinates for 72 hours before being finished in the smoker.
"Curing and rubbing and smoking. It's the same process we use for meat," Worgul says. "This is Joe's Kansas City Smoked Salmon prepared in the Kansas City tradition."
After coming out of the smoker, the salmon is separated into chunks over a bed of mixed greens. Oklahoma Joe's then adds shredded carrots, pickled red onions, thinly sliced English cucumbers, creamy tomato dressing and a drizzle of tomato jam (created by new chef Robe Douglas and also used on the pulled chicken sandwich).
The smoked salmon salad ($9.99) will be available today for Ash Wednesday and then on subsequent Fridays for Lent (through the end of March). Today also marks the return of the soft-shell crab po'boy, a deep-fried soft-shell crab sandwich on a hoagie bun with barbecue remoulade, shredded cabbage and tomato.
"We want to talk to our customers and see what they like," Worgul says. "If the response is what we think it will be, I expect we might be rolling out a salmon platter or smoked salmon sandwich in the future."
The smoked salmon salad is not the first seafood dish prepared by Oklahoma Joe's. They sold a fish filet version of the Z-Man back in 2011 and a seafood jambalaya, shrimp and crawfish with a spicy Cajun rice, last year. Both dishes didn't sell well enough to stay on the menu.
"Those are both now in the history of Oklahoma Joe's," Worgul says. "Some people will miss the jambalaya, and I'm one of them."