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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:38 PM   #1
IbrahimSS
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Default Cold Smoked Salmon: Am I doing this right?

Hello

I'm at the end of the curing and drying process for my salmon and I'm totally unsure if I'm doing this right. Can you experts comment if this looks good or if it's under cured or under dried?

I used a simple 4:1 brown sugar to kosher salt cure.

Thanks
Sam

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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:48 PM   #2
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I love smoked Salmon, but I have never made it. Sorry I can't help, I am sure someone will chime in and let you know how to check it.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:04 PM   #3
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Can't really tell by looks as all salmon are different and color varies greatly. It should be noticeably darker than it was before the cure and it should be much stiffer and sticky, rather than slimy -- you should be able to pick it up and it not seem like a raw fish (slippery, slimy and floppy). The amount of cure is highly variable. I've had it range from very salty to almost no salt. We have refrigeration now, so it's not used purely for safety, but for taste preference. Many, many cultures have different methods for curing/smoking salmon. I've done it more times than I care to count and it always turns out great.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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It definitely doesn't look or feel like fresh salmon. The skin is also rather stiff. It's not as dark as I thought it would be and there is a fair color variation between the tail and the thickest end near where the head was.

Any woo it's on the smoker now...
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Unread 01-14-2013, 10:04 PM   #5
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Your 4:1 mix is perfect. I add 10-15 cloves crushed garlic also. Brine for 6 hours or overnight. Rinse and let sit at room temp. for a couple hours. Smoke for 6 - 12 hours to achieve desired result. Trust me. I am from British Columbia, Canada and fishing is my life! Pacific Salmon and BC rainbow trout in the smoker can't be beat.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 10:25 PM   #6
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Yeah salmon vary in color so dont go by that... Like Gore said go more on the feel of the fish. Now this is personal preference but I got for a 2:1 sugar to salt with additional seasonings. I find more sugar and its too sweet for me... it's just my sweet spot. Waht you didnt mention though was how long did you cure it for? It certainly looks ready though. I'm sure it'll come out great.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 10:46 PM   #7
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I cured it for about 12-14 hours. I was little worried that 4:1 might be too sweet for me but I figured it seemed like a typical starting point for my first go. I will adjust for next time.

I just pulled it off the UDS. I smoked it for about 4 hrs.


I used the poor mans technique ie a few briquettes of charcoal lined up and slightly overlapped then lit the first one and put some wood on top. I'm not sure if that's the greatest way to do it. I don't want to get a AMNS because I don't want to be stuck ordering dust particularly because I have plenty of wood.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 06:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IbrahimSS View Post

I used the poor mans technique ie a few briquettes of charcoal lined up and slightly overlapped then lit the first one and put some wood on top. I'm not sure if that's the greatest way to do it.
That's worked for thousands of people for centuries. It's only recently that we've had the new gadgets to spend money on.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IbrahimSS View Post
Hello

I'm at the end of the curing and drying process for my salmon and I'm totally unsure if I'm doing this right. Can you experts comment if this looks good or if it's under cured or under dried?

I used a simple 4:1 brown sugar to kosher salt cure.

Thanks
Sam

Your color looks just fine.....Like the others mentioned, the color will vary from species to species, and also vary between wild caught and farm raised. In fact many farm raised fillets have color added. All the descriptions of texture and feel were better than I could have described them, so I think you are good there too. Your fillet does look a hair dry down toward the tail, but you will figure this out when eating (and it might just be the light in the photo).

Here is some cured steelhead drying so you can see the color of some of mine... I season them before the drying step because it anchors better, and seasoning is optional on cold smoked salmon.



A couple of tips,... I usually cut off the belly strip and the tail. The belly is really fatty and the tail dries easily... plus they are of different thickness than the main body, so they take more smoke. Trimming the fillets also makes the fillets easier to slice.



Here is some of my cold smoked Nova lox so you can see the finished look. Just be sure to slice it really thin and enjoy...

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Unread 01-15-2013, 11:46 AM   #10
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One thing I would mention is the last half hour turn up the temp to at least 150 degrees to kill any remaining bacteria. You can set your oven at 150 and finish for a half hour.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 12:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestsmokeboy View Post
One thing I would mention is the last half hour turn up the temp to at least 150 degrees to kill any remaining bacteria. You can set your oven at 150 and finish for a half hour.
That's interesting, does the 30 minutes do any actually cooking to the surface of the fish?

Often food safety experts will recommend fish which has been commercially frozen when making lox. The quick freezing and well below zero temperatures will kill any baddies associated with uncooked fish you may worry about. That said, I prefer using extremely fresh fish which has not been frozen, and have not had any problems. Sushi grades of fish don't have the benefit of curing salts or exposure to smoke, however they are kept really cold, instead of the 50° to 80° temps inside a cold smoker.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 12:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestsmokeboy View Post
One thing I would mention is the last half hour turn up the temp to at least 150 degrees to kill any remaining bacteria. You can set your oven at 150 and finish for a half hour.
I never heard of that before. Does that actually work? I'd think doing that would actually cause more bacteria to grow as the surface temp of the fish would not warm up but the warm air might spur the bacterial growth.
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Unread 01-16-2013, 11:25 AM   #13
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I just wanted to update the thread.

Thanks everyone for your help. It came out awesome. I'm amazed at how simple it was to produce such an outstanding product. I think the only thing I would tinker with next time is seasonings, ie add garlic or whatever I'd like, and the brown sugar to salt ratio. The wife would like it a bit more salty so I'll probably go 3:1.

Thanks again
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Unread 01-16-2013, 11:33 AM   #14
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One last thing: if you have any storage advice I'm happy to hear it!
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Unread 01-16-2013, 02:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
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if you have any storage advice I'm happy to hear it!
I cut mine into small sections (an amount I'd eat in one sitting) and then vacuum seal. Keep it in the fridge.
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