I have been smoking salmon about 40 years now. I've owned and built several cookers but all I use for salmon is a Luhr Jensen Little Chief smoker. Standard price is $20 at a yard sale around Seattle. In the Pacific Northwest the only proper wood to smoke salmon with is alder. You can buy alder chips at any hardware store. Following is the only recipe I've ever used, from the LJ Little Chief recipe book:
"Little Chief" Smoked Salmon Deluxe
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-iodized salt
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 tsp granulated onion (don't EVER buy "onion powder"!)
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup dry white wine
Mix thoroughly. Brine salmon chunks 8 or more hours, keeping refrigerated. Rinse thoroughly after brining. Pat dry with a paper towel and allow to air dry for at least one hour prior to smoking.
- end of recipe -
I lay out the grates from the LC and put the dried-off brined chunks on the grates. I group all the largest pieces on one grate. I bring in the rack the grates go on, set it up on my counter over a few paper towels to catch drips, and put the grates on the rack, thickest pieces at the bottom nearest the heat. I generally let them air dry for several hours to form a pellicle. Gives the smoke something to stick to. Then into the smoker. In winter you will definitely need the cardboard box around the smoker for insulation. I smoke for about 8 hours, taking the thinnest pieces off earlier than the latest.
Actually, it's very important also to pull the pin bones from your fillets before you brine them. To do that, I use a needle driver which was inexpensive and made in Pakistan but which works great.
I use cheap white wine in half-gallon bottles from Cash'N'Carry. I use Kikkoman soy sauce, no substitution there. I use a small Cambro plastic food container with lid to hold the brine and the fish chunks in my back refrigerator.
Nobody has ever dissed my smoked salmon. I simply *love* this recipe!