Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Hanging salmon fillets to smoke

  1. #1
    Member trochilids's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
    Posts
    143

    Default Hanging salmon fillets to smoke

    I have a 4-rack gas smoker -- tall -- and have usually smoked salmon by laying a couple fillets on each rack. If the fillets are too large, I'm forced to cut the tails off or something similar.

    The results have always been very pleasing, but I do get a white curd that forms on each fillet, regardless of duration of drying pre-smoke or setting the temp at the lowest setting, etc... SO... I was wondering if hanging the fillets would reduce this curd formation, and allow me to (perhaps) get more fillets in the smoker. Perhaps a couple layers of vertical oriented fish versus a couple fillets on horizontal racks.

    Has anyone done this in a small smoker before? Do you think the "integrity" of the skin would be such to allow a coat-hanger-sized wire to be pierced through it and looped over the top rack in a smoker? And have the fish "hold" during the time?

    I know natives smoke strips vertically in large smokehouses -- the ones I've seen are tied with string, but I'm talking about a whole fillet in a smaller smoker.

    Curious...!
    Palmer, Alaska
    "There are some things money can buy. For everything else, there's ALASKA!"

  2. #2
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Southwest Alaska
    Posts
    985

    Default

    Salmon skin is pretty strong, even more so as it is drying. Are you planning on filleting your salmon with the tail remaining attached or just cutting your fillets off each side? If you leave the tail attached you can trim it right down to the base, the base area is all you really need since it is the strongest point when you are hanging your fish. Another method to consider is to do a butterfly fillet leaving the belly area attached, makes a nice big fillet of salmon. Also to keep your single fillet or butterfly fillet spread out as it is hanging vertically/drying/smoking use the native method which is to cut slim straight pieces of willow the width of the fillet and cut a small hole on each side (outside edge) of the fillet and stick the end of the willow stick into each hole, this is done on the skin side. Two sticks spaced evenly at the widest part of the fillet would work best. If you are gonna hang a butterfly fillet definitely use two sticks.

  3. #3
    Member AKGUPPY's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    S.E. AK
    Posts
    176

    Default

    The curdding is caused by heating too fast. You might try to put some heat diffuser in the bottom of the gas smoker. Try some "chipped/cracked" ceramic floor tiles from a building supply store. They usually have some tiles that are not saleable. These are also good to put in the bottom of a gas oven in your house/RV.

  4. #4

    Default

    if you want to smoke the whole salmon by hanging it, don't run your knife through the last bit of the tail when you fillet the first side. flip it over and do the same again. now cut through the vertabrae right at the end of the tail. the 2 sides should be joined by the tail. after salting and rinsing it you hang it over a dowel or stick. some people hang it with the skin side out for the first 12 hours to condition, then flip it to meat out and start cold smoking. i always hung it meat side out right away to condition and then started smoking later [less work]. make sure no sides of fish are touching each other. if your smoker is too warm the fish will start to kipper and fall of the skin. this is a real mess that i unfortunately learned the hard way. if you are getting white curds on your fish i think your smoker is too hot and i would not hang fish in there. remember that you should be 85 farenheit at the most to cold smoke like this.

  5. #5
    Member trochilids's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Palmer, Alaska
    Posts
    143

    Default

    Is it possible, then, to "hot smoke" salmon in a little-chief, or similar gas smoker, and NOT get the white curds? I turn the gas flame below the cast iron chip basket as low as possible, and place water in the container above it, and place the fish on the racks above it -- with the vent on top wide open, I still get curds quickly. What sort of venting might I add to cool down the smoker but still keep the smoke in? Or is "holding" the smoke really a big deal? Would the ceramic plates (above the wood chip basket, I assume) mentioned above solve this?

    I appreciate your insights. This is very educational.
    Palmer, Alaska
    "There are some things money can buy. For everything else, there's ALASKA!"

  6. #6
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Palmer, AK.
    Posts
    4,121

    Default Use a fan to circulate air 1st....

    To stop the curding, you need to cool your smoker down to 120-150* as others have mentioned. Do not wrap your smoker or cover it with the box to cold smoke.
    BUT, you real problem is caused by a lack of air circulation PRIOR to smoking.
    Once your fish are brined, put them on a rack and circulate air across them for a couple hours using a fan.They will be ready to smoke when a shiny glaze crusts over the meat.
    It will look like they were sprayed with a shellac as they will be shiny but dry.
    Often, I will brine my fish in the evening, then put the fan on them overnight in the shop.
    Keep the temp down, (use a thermometer to check temp), and smoke a couple pans of chips keeping them changed every 45 mins or so.
    I do all mine in a little chief with excellent results.
    If you ever want to hot smoke (200* +/-) in the little chief, wrap the box in duct tape and put on the smoker. To bump it up even more wrap with a quilted packing blanket also. Works great for making briskets.
    BK

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •