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Thread: Smoked Salmon, Your Best Recipies

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    Default Smoked Salmon, Your Best Recipies

    Please.

    My fiance and I went dipnetting Hooligan last weekend for the first time. No more than 20 minutes and we had all we wanted, since we didn't know how they would be or how much enthusiasm we'd have for cleaning them.

    Anyway, she wanted to smoke the little buggers, so I picked up a smoker to give it a whirl. So far, so good. She found a recipe from no less than Alton Brown, for you Food Network fans, that imparts a bit of a pickled smokey flavor.

    Next up, Copper River Reds. So, what are your favorite recipes and favorite smoking methods, for those willing to share.

    Thanks.

    Wishing all strained nets and sore backs this dipnetting season.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Keep it basic, I layer the fillets in a 50# sausage tote and use ~1/2 c brown sugar and 1/4 c pickling salt per pair of fillets. Let them set at a cool room temp ~60F for 3 hours, then rinse off the excess salt and suger in cold clean water. Don't soak the fillets in water, and don't rinse them too long or you'll leach out the proteins from the meat and some of the salt.

    Cold or hot smoke, I prefer alder and a little bit of birch. Remove the bark from the alder as it makes for a metalic taste, and don't over-smoke the fish. Hickory is ok, but too much of it makes the fish taste like bacon, which isn't necesarily a bad thing.

    I also like smoked canned salmon, can be added to different dishes, and keeps for a long time. Just make sure you don't over-fill the cans or you'll find they go bad, I lost alot of cans my first season of canning this past year, a real shame as it was excellent fish.

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    Default Cold vs Hot Smoke

    I've heard the terms a lot, but don't really know the magnitude of the difference.

    Basically, I assume cold smoke is imparting more flavor than cooking and hot smoke is cooking more than imparting smoky flavor.

    But, what are some rules of thumb? Is a cold smoke like 100-140 and hot smoke 180-210? Or is not that drastic, and more of a personal preference?

    Thanks again

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I never measure anything, just eyeball it, so it's hard to give an exact recipe. Water, bbq sauce, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, and of course salt. Let sit for a couple of hours. Rinse in cold water, then dab dry and let sit for a couple of hours. Smoke hot, run 3 or 4 pans of chips, then just let the heat finish it off. Total time depends on thickness of fillets.

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    Cold smoking does not cook the fish, the salt provides some curing, and removes some of the water in the fish, the smoking provides additional drying of the fish. Cold smoking occurs at 100-110 F. Think in terms of squaw candy.

    Hot smoking actually cooks the fish, and temps are around 180-200F. If the fish produces a white fat then you've cooked it too hot/long. This is your typical kippered salmon.

    Both are good, just different processes.

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    I never let my cold smoke go above 90F. Fish will cook at 140F.

    As to peeling the alder? The jury is still out for me on this. I never had a problem with the bark on(I've been smoking around 25 years). I tried a batch saturday with peeled alder and cannot testify to any difference. To each his own.
    What I have experienced is with cherry getting bitter with aged product such as cheese. Alder just seems to improve with age and has a sweet taste.
    Pete

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    I cold smoke between 85-95 degrees for 12 hours. I use alder with bark. I think the biggest challenge is drying it properly. Not too much, not too little. I have a home made smoker. We smoke in early spring when the weather is cooler and is better for drying. Alder is a tarry wood with a heavy smoke. I go light on the the smoke so it does not over power the fish.


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    Southeast Alaska Traditional...

    make a brine of tap water and enough salt to float a potatoe.

    Put fillets into brine for 10-15 minutes... this removes the "fishiness"

    cut into strips or chunks and place in smoker

    I use freshly cut and green alder that grows by the rivers.

    Smoke for a day or so. At this point the fish is still uncooked

    then jar the fish and do the pressure cooker thing... viola tasty!

    Sobie2

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    Let's fire this thread up again!
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

    "People who drink light 'beer' don't like the taste of beer; they
    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

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    (Note **Traditional king strips, also chum strips are cold smoked, and rely on a totally different recipe than the one I'm posting now...)

    (Note **We leave the bellies on our fillets, as they result in a nice oily taste treat each time a smoked fillet is taken from the freezer..)


    Clean as many 5 or 6 gallon food-grade buckets as you'll need for 12-16 or so fillets of sockeye per bucket. Rinse well (Soapy flavor mucks up good fish...)

    Add 2 qts. clean H2O per bucket load of brine to a stock pot, and heat up to almost boiling. Dissolve into the hot water 1 to 1-1/8 lbs. salt per every 2 qts. H2O. Add 3 lbs. brown sugar per every 2 qts. H2O. If desired, add a tsp. or 2 of prague powder for every two qts of H2O.

    Mix well while water is still piping hot.

    If you like, you may add a couple of cups of soy sauce to each 2 qt. of H2O, as well. You may find that you want to slightly decrease the salt for this, but that'll be up to you, and experimentation with your smoking.

    Allow concentrated brine to cool 'til it won't harm the integrity of your buckets. Divide your concentrated brine, placing 2 qts in each brine bucket. (**I employ lesser used chest freezer to cool the brine concentrate more quickly, turning it off and on, so as not to risk freezing it, which would simply take more time in the process.)

    To the 2 qts. of concentrated brine in each bucket, add 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 gallons H2O per bucket.

    If you want, this is the time to add any spices, etc. Some folks have recognized that the natural fat of the fish, coupled with the volume of H2O being used, often prevents the flavors of added spices from becoming well pronounced, and that application of any spices is best left until the fish are glazing (air-drying) before smoking.

    That said, to each bucket of brine I usually add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup granulated garlic, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup or so Thai pepper paste, (or other stout flavorful pepper paste) to each bucket of brine. Onion powder works well, too, but tend to clump up in liquid, so whisk it in. (**You may choose to baste some of your favorite spices on after/during glazing instead of adding to the brine itself, in which case you'll use a WHOLE LOT LESS. Two words: Buy wholesale...)

    You can also grind freshly ground black pepper onto the fillets as they're glazing.

    Soak fillets in brine for 8-12 hours. This too should be adjusted to taste over time as you experiment. (I maintain the buckets in the earlier-mentioned chest freezer during brine soaking as well, and, like with the cooling of the brine, I turn the freezer on and off in order to prevent it getting too cold or too warm.)

    After soaking fillets in brine, pull each fillet out of the buckets, slightly rinsing the slime off, 'sweeping' excess water off each fillet with your hands/fingers, and lay each fillet on racks or in pans, without over-lapping, and with no standing/excess liquid in the pan/tray to allow to glaze until the surface of the fillets looks 'waxy.' I find old clean stnls steel oven racks or my jerky racks work well for this phase.

    You may or may not want to air-dry/glaze the fillets in a temperature-controlled location as well, but open air helps expedite the process a bunch. When ever I can, I use my enclosed back porch for this process, as there are few bugs back there.

    Also, if you like, you can purchase veil material or fine bug screen at a fabric store, and place it over your fish for this process as well. (**I avoid having direct sun on the fish for this process, if possible.. Don't know why; I just do.)

    After air-drying/glazing, smoke fish in smoker for about 20-24 hours @ 130 degrees fahrenheit (shorter or longer, depending on your own personal preferences for your fish..) We use peeled, freshly cut green alder to smoke our fish, lighting it with dry wood initially.

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    Oooops! My mistake; change the amounts of granulated garlic, if adding directly to the brine, to between 1/3 and 2/3 cup.

    Also, we use either pickling and canning salt or dissolved rock salt (both of which are non-iodized), as opposed to regular table salt (which -is- iodized). Mostly we use pickling and canning salt.

    Sorry.

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    Default Smoked Salmon

    Well I do not have the amounts with me but here is what my brine is made up of.

    Brine:
    Aloha Barbeque Sauce
    White Suger
    Brown Suger
    Hot Sauce
    White Wine
    Smoke Sailey Salt
    Onion Powder
    Garlic

    I soak the salmon in the brine for 12-18 hours. Rince off excess and smoke with apple & Alder wood till done. Only problem I have with the recipies is trying to make sure that the family does not eat it all as it come out of the smoker.

    If you would like the measurement for this Brine just PM me and I will sent it to you when I am at home with the recipie in front of me.

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    Default Tacking up...

    I have a few brines that I use- one is a sweet hawaiin teriyaki brand with brown sugar, garlic, worchester (or however its spelled) and salt

    The other is a Bourbon brine (which does involve flavor testing).

    I have been smoking fish like crazy this summer so far, my 3 year old LOVES IT! Anyway, I am curious as to what you all think about the post brining process- I used to rinse the fish and begin smoking almost immediately, this year I started laying the fish out on racks and putting a fan on it for 4-8 hours to let it 'tack up'. The product has been amazing- it looks better, tastes better, and most importantly it seems like the glaze locks in the moisture so even smallish pieces don't dry out.

    Any other disciples of glazing fish before smoking...?

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    sockeye1,

    I believe that what I call glazing (the air-drying of the post-brined fillets you referred to) allows the meat to firm up a bit better and dry a bit more in the process. Smoking tends to create a 'skin' of sorts on the meat side of the fish (a lesser 'skin' also results from the glazing, but not as quickly, in my opinion).

    The skin amounts to closed pores, etc., in the meat, thus slowing the drying process. Air drying firms up the meat a bit better, as more moisture has escaped before the 'skin' on the meat becomes less penetrable.

    That's my understanding of the 'whys' of it.

    I also have gone directly from the brine to the smoker without rinsing -or- glazing, and, in a pinch, could do it again. But I think the rinsing and glazing (air-drying before smoking) provides a better product.

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    I just made some of the best smoked salmon I've ever had. And now my family loves me even more.

    I used a small cooler for the brine. I don't ever measure exact portions, I'm just like that. But this is my current brine:

    -Rock salt
    -About a pound of brown sugar.
    -Couple cups of granulated sugar
    -Roughly 5-6 cups of bbq sauce
    -Black pepper
    -Garlic salt
    -A fairly heft dose of McCormick's Grill Mates Roasted Garlic and Herbs seasoning
    -About 1 1/2 gallons water

    Normally, I add soy sauce, but we didn't have any and I didn't feel like going to the store, so I skipped it.

    I let it sit in the brine for what I thought was too long. I got wrapped up in work and it was a couple of days before I got to it. Thankfully I put plenty of salt in there to keep things from going bad.

    I pulled the salmon, rinsed, patted dry, and put on racks. Again deviating from my norm, I let it sit over-night on the counter drying. Normally I just give it a couple of hours, but this dried for a good 10 hours.

    Finally got it in the smoker, using a mix of hickory and alder chips. Gave it five pans of chips and another couple hours in the smoker. Pulled it out, let it cool to room temperature, and put in the refrigerator. I am convinced that refrigerating for a day or two puts the final "cure" onto it. Man, it's good. I did some thin strips this year, and those came out awesome...it's liked smoked salmon jerky. Definitely doing that more if I can get some more salmon soon. I may do up an entire smoker full like that. They would make great snacks.

    So...the lessons learned:

    -Longer drying time shortens smoker time and resulted in more consistent firmness in different thicknesses of fillets.

    -Refrigeration before final packaging really seems to help seal in the flavor.

    -Thin strips are even better then thin fillets

    -Soy sauce is not necessary, which goes against what my father-in-law would ever tell you about smoking salmon right

    -Good smoked salmon is as good as money to some people. I've already swapped some for some help on my truck.

    -I need to catch about 30 more sockeye.

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    Lemme just add a disclaimer to my last post. I stated I swapped some smoked salmon for help on my truck.

    This isn't entirely true. A friend of mine helped me with my truck, and as a thank you I gave him some smoked salmon. It was never meant as "payment" for services, just a little something to show him I appreciated his help. It was also coho salmon caught in Valdez last fall. I give away a lot of smoked salmon throughout the year, bring it to potlucks, share at the office, use it for Christmas gifts for my family, etc.

    Sometimes it's hard to figure out the blurry line of legality in how I use my fish. The truth is, once it hits my freezer, it's hard to distinguish between sport caught and personal use fish. If I smoke a PU fish can I give it to someone? Does my family then have to eat it? What if a batch contains some sport caught and some PU fish? How do you tell the difference?

    I'm not intending to bend any rules, but I don't know anyone that seperates out their fish by method caught.

  17. #17
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    curious as to how long you guys are smoking salmon that is to be canned.

    I have never had any luck making those nice tender smoked salmons like you can buy in the package and 1/2 pints... it either turns to jerky or is way over cooked in the canner....
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Some of the folks I was with on the Yukon River years ago used to smoke their fish and then put the kippered salmon in jars, Vince, but I never paid enough attention to it to get their process committed to memory. I -did- enjoy eating some of their end results, though, and recall that we took some of the jars home in the final divvying up of the communal proceeds! ;^>)

    Our household either smoked it and then froze the final product, or just plain old canned/jarred the stuff unsmoked.

    I -still- don't do any plain ol' canned salmon any more.. I thoroughly exhausted the 101 ways to use cooked/jarred subsistence salmon, about two dozen times each, and for a few years during the later 80s and early 90s, have to admit that the thought of eating another canned river salmon (unsmoked) brought an unsettling sensation to my tummy...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    curious as to how long you guys are smoking salmon that is to be canned.
    I've typically done a low temp smoke (100-120) for 3-4 hours (one pan of chips per hour) before canning/jarring. Jars seem to keep things a little moister (and lowers the risk of overcooking) as you don't need to heat them up to 170 before sealing them and then throwing them in the canner for the 100+ minutes. Just be extra careful about pressure fluctuations if using jars.

  20. #20

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    I brine my fish in 1 part salt and 3 parts brown sugar for about 8 hours. Then, I rinse them with cold water and let them air dry for about 2 hours. After that, I smoke them for at least 12 hours with alder. On fresh fish, like the reds I caught this year, I will trim off the belly meat and rather than freeze it for dinner later, I smoke it. The bellies seem to have lots of oil, and being a little thinner, they smoke all the way through. It turns out candy apple red and greasy as a bacon cheeseburger...only it's omega three grease.

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