Smoked Salmon is one of the tastiest, healthiest, and belive it or not, easiest things to make at home, so long as you have a little patience. The process is cakework, and the time it sits makes it taste great.
There is basically only 4 totally “needed” ingredients, and only a 4 easy steps between you and Salmon Heaven. My recipe is for a dry brined salmon, which is then hot smoked, which I feel is simple, easy, and imparts a beautiful flavor to the fish.
Ingredients you will need.
Salmon (I prefer Coho, King, or Sockeye, but Pink, and Chum Salmon also smoke well. Even Steelhead Trout can work great).
Dark Brown Sugar
Spices (garlic is the only “NEEDED” spice, but you could add others according to taste).
Ok here we go.
Prepare the fish… This is easy, just filet the fish, cut some long slits into, but NOT through, the meat every inch or so, and then cut into portion size peices (about 4 ounces each). You could also use salmon steaks, but I feel that filets allow more brine and smoke flavor to get into the meat.
Brine the fish… Mix 5 parts brown sugar with 1 part sea salt. Then add in spices to taste. The ratios need to stay the same, but the quantity will change depending on how much fish you have to smoke. If I use 5 cups of brown sugar and one cup of salt I might add in 10 cloves of chopped garlic, and maybe a little fresh ground black pepper.
Ok you have the dry brine… now just put your filets in a glass or plastic contaner and cover them completely with the brine… thats it… stick it in the fridge overnight. In the morning the dry brine will have turned to liquid… thats awesome.
Dry the fish… Take the fish out of the refridgerator and rinse it off in the sink. Now lay the filets on a rack and allow them so sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours, less if its really warm in the room. This will dry the fish and will allow it to form a tacky shiny surface… this is called a pellicle. This step is crucial… do not skip it or worry about the fish spoiling by sitting out for a few hours. the salt from the brine that soaked into the meat will impede bacteria growth. The pellicle keeps the remaining moisture in the fish during smoking and allows the smoke to properly permeate it.
Smoke the fish… Put in a grill, smoker, or smokehouse and smoke the fish until finished (5 hours or so varible depending on the temperature of your smoker). Hard woods such as alder wood are most common and give a great flavor to the salmon. Fruit woods like cherry or apple also work very well.
Now Eat and Enjoy.
Feel free to share your own recipes for smoked salmon in the comments section, or let me know how this turned out.