Amazing––delicious––fantastic! These are the words that come to mind whenever smoked salmon is injected into a conversation. To produce this intensely flavorful product, fresh salmon fillets are soaked in a salty, slightly-sweet brine overnight and smoked with alder or apple wood for 6 to 8 hours.
Smoked Salmon Recipe
4 lbs salmon fillets, skin on (1.8 kg)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (4.65 g)
1 1/2 tsp onion powder (5.4 g)
1 1/2 tsp white pepper (4.1 g)
2 tbsp pink curing salt#1 (34.2 g)
2 tbsp lemon juice (30 ml)
1/2 cup pickling salt (154 g)
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed (463 g)
2 quarts ice cold distilled water (1.9 L)
1. Rinse salmon fillets under cold water to remove slime and other impurities.
2. Combine remaining ingredients together in brine pan, stir well until brown sugar and salt is dissolved.
3. Immerse fillets in the brine solution, refrigerate 24 hours, stir brine solution one time.
4. Next day, remove fillets from the brine solution; rinse briefly under cold water.
5. Place fish skin-side down on oiled racks; dry 2 hours in a cool, breezy area while pellicle forms on surface of fish.*
6. Place fillets skin-side down in 90°F (32°C) smoker (vents wide open), hold for 2 hours to finish pellicle formation.
7. After 2 hours, raise smoker temperature to 150°F (66°C), turn vents to 1/4 open; apply light smoke for 1-2 hours.
8. Gradually raise smoker temperature to 170°F (77°C), hold until salmon's internal temperature is 145°F (63°C).
9. Smoked salmon can be refrigerated up to 7 days or vacuum sealed and frozen up to 6 months.
The length of time it takes to hot smoke a salt cured salmon depends on the thickness of the fish and not the weight as one might expect. For example, a 1/2-inch (1.27 cm) thick fillet takes about 4 hours to smoke/cook, a 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick fillet takes 6 hours and a 1 1/2” (3.8 cm) takes about 8 hours.
*The pellicle (shiny skin) that forms on the surface of the fish as it drys is essential because it helps to prevent the loss of the salmon's natural juices during the smoke/cooking process. A fan positioned so the resulting air blows across the fillets is helpful as well.
For more smoked fish recipes and fish smoking information go to Sausage And Jerky Maker's Bible.