Since I treat Q-Talk like my own personal recipe library, I'm updating a recipe I added here some time ago, my "So-I-don't-forget smoked salmon" posted here:
I realized that I don't follow the recipe very well, and although the results largely look the same, we have trimmed down a bit on the technique and it is a bit simplified. This is a warm-smoked salmon (if you like that sort of thing). It is meant to be served next day, cold, and is good on bagels, toast, (with or without cream cheese), or just by itself. My girls like to eat it for breakfast. So here is the revised technique.
The first thing is preparing: 3:1, sugar:salt:
Although we've tinkered with this, it seems pretty standard. At present we use about 1/3 cup of salt (you can figure out the sugar from that
). This normally does about one side of salmon that we pick up at Costco. Sometimes we are lucky and they have the salmon halves cut in half. We picked up two of the bigger halves (not the tail part that is thinner):
This is sliced up into manageable portions. Lately, we've been using a lot of cling wrap. We place a bit of the dry brine mixture on the wrap, place the salmon on top and then wrap up:
Then we put all these back into the plastic bag that we put our package of fish in at the store and lay them all together in a cake pan:
This is critical: make sure the bag opening is up high! That way the liquid (and there will be a cup or two) will not leak all over (don't ask me how I know). Now you might ask yourself, "why bother using the cling wrap?" I asked myself the same question and tried it without. The reason I use it is that I saw everyone else doing it that way.
I tried it once without and it was still fine, but I don't think it was brined as uniformly. I'm willing to try it again without the cling wrap as it did save time (and cling wrap). Oh, did I mention I do this about 12-18 hours before I smoke them? Probably not, well, I'm telling myself now. I usually do this prep the night before. So, the salmon is in the cake pan. I now put some weight on top of it. I like to use the brown sugar bags because they mold around the salmon, and also because they wash off pretty easily when you forget to put the opening of the salmon bag up high and all the brine leaks all over. I've also tried milk cartons, but I have to lay those on their sides and sometimes they leak also, making cream of smoked salmon, which is not what we're going for.
I then put the whole thing in the fridge and wait until about 2-3 hours before I plan on smoking the salmon. Here is what it looks like then:
Yeah, pretty juicy! Well, we rinse off each of those pieces and lay them out to dry. I've used cookie racks, but I like the frogmat best. It's easy to clean and I can carry it right out to the smoker:
I let these dry out for a few hours and build a fire. I like a chunk of cherry in there and I'm trying for a temperature of about 175* or so.
For some I coat both sides in real maple syrup and then coat with pepper (on one side):
For others I rub both sides in sesame oil and coat one side with sesame seeds:
I toss these on the Oval and smoke until IT of 145*. This can take from 1.5 hours to 4 hours depending on the temp I could get the Oval to settle at. I generally try for about 175*, but there's not a lot of control in this range and sometimes I end up playing temperature tag. Here is the finished product:
That's what it looks like when I take it off. Again, I put these in the fridge and eat them next day, but they're pretty good as is (I usually get a few hearty nibbles in).