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Thread: Salmon Smoking?

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Default Salmon Smoking?

    Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know any self-respecting Alaskan does it himself, but after a quick peek at some pricing, I got a bit of sticker shock! Anyone drop their salmon off before to get smoked? Just thinking of getting the '10 fillets smoked to make room for the '11 stuff...

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    Member 9601's Avatar
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    How many lbs. do you have left? There is usually a 10-20 lb. minimum @ $5-$7 per lb. depending on who you use. I tried some this past week out of curiosity and it was kind of rubbery with an average smoked taste. I've tried the canned smoked stuff before and it wasn't that good at all. I found out later on that they just add smoke flavoring to the fish when they can it.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I am very happy with my $153 digital masterbuilt smoker from sports authority. It looks like a mini fridge with four shelves and I had no problem smoking a pair of average kings in it at one time. It heats a but hotter on the back but I just flip the trays about 1/2 way through or put thicker slabs toward the back.

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    I have the Masterbuilt 40 inch smoker I bought at Sam's Club this past winter. The thing works like a champ even in freezing temps and puts out some great salmon as well as pulled pork and ribs. And I never thought I would say this about a smoker, but the remote control is nice to have.

    For the cost of one trip to a commercial smoker, you can get a nice unit that will last you years.

    Masterbuilt-smoker2.jpg
    Just a bitter Alaskan clinging to his guns and religion.....

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I got a Big Chief during a fall clearance sale a few years ago for about 50% off. Tough to beat that. It's not the best smoker in the world, but it does the job and I can do quite a bit at once. I think I've done about half-dozen reds at one time. One of these days I'll upgrade to a better smoker, but for a little over $50 it was a good investment.

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    Member 9601's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    I got a Big Chief during a fall clearance sale a few years ago for about 50% off. Tough to beat that. It's not the best smoker in the world, but it does the job and I can do quite a bit at once. I think I've done about half-dozen reds at one time. One of these days I'll upgrade to a better smoker, but for a little over $50 it was a good investment.
    I have the same thing, but I bought a thermal wrap-around blanket specifically made for it. It keeps the temperature up so the fish doesn't get mushy. It has worked great so far.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    these 2 guys!


    Got the front loading Big Chief on clearance at Home Depot a couple years ago, and as a matter of fact it was about half price. Picked up the insulating wrap for it at Fred Meyer. It's been a good smoker for me. My old man used a top-load little chief smoker for a couple decades. He installed it inside of a wood box which insulated and elevated it. I've been thinking about doing the same with this one.
    Winter is Coming...

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    I have the MasterBuilt also. I bought mine at Lowe's last year. The only problem I've had is the heating element is too far away, and separated by another aluminum sheet, from the chip pan, so I get more cooking than smoking. I've figured out how to work around that, and the things smokes the h**l out of some reds in the dead of winter!

    I was in Lowe's the other day and opened up the display model to take a peek. The problem I have has been eliminated. The chip pan sits very near the heating element. I'd recommend it. The digital controls is the way to go. Happy smoking!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    You should send Familyman a PM. He knows how to smoke salmon. Best I ever ate. He can tell you how to do it for sure. Will be putting his advice to use soon myself.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    So I'm guessing that since everyone does this that it cant be rocket science. Guess I'll have to start looking at brine recipes and wait for a deal on a smoker. Looks like masterbuilt or the little chief is the way to go. Do you need an auxiliary thermal wrap with the masterbuilt models? If not, I think I might go that route. How much cabbage are we talking for the units you guys are using?

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    My 40 inch model cost around 300 bucks and I do not need any kind of insulation when smoking in winter. The 30 inch masterbuilt can be found for well under 200 if you shop around.

    I used a big chief for years, but wanted something with better temp control, so after some looking around I settled on the Masterbuilt. Lots of guys use Bradley smokers, but I did not like having to buy the special pucks for them. You can use regular chips with the Masterbuilt.

    I did buy a smoke generator that keeps me from having to feed chips into the smoker every 90 minutes. Comes in handy for long smokes. Just light the sawdust and forget about it.

    http://www.amazenproducts.com/

    For recipes on smoked salmon, check out the Pantry section of the forum. Lots of methods and they all turn out some good salmon. Just find one that suits your tastes and you are set.
    Just a bitter Alaskan clinging to his guns and religion.....

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The 30" that I got from the Wasilla Sports Authority for $153 seems to smoke just fine. The digital temp does a great job, just set it and go. The unit is insulated very well and requires no extra insulation. My FIL has a big chief and he was more than a little jealous of the Masterbuilt. The only additional thing I purchased other than wood chips of course is a smoke vault cover from Sportsmans Warehouse which is very sturdy and fit my Masterbuilt smoker perfectly.


    add: I do line the bottom and the water tray with aluminum foil and I DON'T use water when smoking fish though I do leave the water tray in to keep the drippings off of the chip tray and heater element. It would be handy for chicken or other meats when I want it to stay moist. With salmon I want it to be drier and flakier.

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    Member c6 batmobile's Avatar
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    What temp and how many hours does the smoking process typically take for salmon? Im assuming its less than regular type meats like chicken or ribs.
    Makin fur fins and feathers fly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c6 batmobile View Post
    What temp and how many hours does the smoking process typically take for salmon? Im assuming its less than regular type meats like chicken or ribs.
    Smoking salmon for me is a 24 hour process.

    Minimum 12 hours of dry brine time to get all the extra liquid out of the fish.

    Then 2-4 hours of pellicle forming. I like to do this by putting the fish in a warm place with fan blowing directly on the racks. During the summer I place the racks in the greenhouse and put a fan on the "high" setting directed right at the fish. This causes a nice gloss to show up on the fish and really helps to keep the fat from bubbling out which has been my biggest problem when learning how to smoke.

    During the last 30 minutes of drying time I'll start the smoker and get it to about 100 degrees then put the fish in, without chips for a half hour at 100 deg to finish of the pellicle.

    After all that it is a slow task for me to start bringing the heat up. As mentioned previously my biggest fear is the temp rising to fast and the fat bubbling out of the fish. This can happen pretty quickly and you'll get the tell tale whitish covering on the top of all your fillets. This does not ruin the fish by any means but, at least for me, really impacts the flavor as it seems to become dry and not hold the brine as well.

    As a general rule of thumb I will do an hour at 100, 2 hours at 130, 2 hours at 150 and then finish at 180 for 1-2 hours. FAT king pieces need more time at the higher temps but once I can feel the hard crust beginning to form on the outside of the fillets I turn up the temp faster as I am past the fat bubbling stage.

    It seems like there are 100 different ways to do fish and you need to find what works. It has taken me quite a few batches to get some consistency but I am to the point now where I can name my price in trade for my salmon with my friends and co-workers.

    Here are some pics showing how the meat color changes from fillet to pre-smoke if you get your pellicle right.

    Grip and grin of a lucky day



    Meat color right off the fish



    Post brine but pre-pellicle


  15. #15

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    Post pellicle but pre-smoke. Notice the much darker red color and waxy coating. This DRASTICALLY reduces fat bubble out.



    Close up of a pre-smoke piece. With proper brining and drying the meat has cured to the point where it will be hard to mess up during smoking and all you really have to do is add the smoke flavor and let it cook to your desired level of moistness.


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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    now i am hungry

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    This will be my first year to give smoking a try. Anyone willing To share a good smoke recipe?

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    Member SwansonSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peaceman View Post
    This will be my first year to give smoking a try. Anyone willing To share a good smoke recipe?

    Check out the "alaska pantry" section on this forum. I stumbled upon a great brine recipe there last year. I believe it was just pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce, then an alder smoke.Very good, Got eatin quick.

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armo_Ak View Post
    Smoking salmon for me is a 24 hour process.

    Minimum 12 hours of dry brine time to get all the extra liquid out of the fish.
    What exactly is a "dry brine?" That sounds oxymoronic, but I've heard of others using this method. I've always used a saltwater-base brine for mine...what makes up a dry brine?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    What exactly is a "dry brine?" That sounds oxymoronic, but I've heard of others using this method. I've always used a saltwater-base brine for mine...what makes up a dry brine?
    I rub the fish with a coarse salt/brown sugar mixture and then place it flesh to flesh in casserole dishes to cure.

    Others make up a saltwater mixture in 5 gallon buckets and soak the fillets completely submerged for a period of time.

    I'm not sure on the benefits of one vs. the other but when I have tried the saltwater/bucket approach my fish has come out too salty for my taste.

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