My Smoked Salmon recipe

My Smoked Salmon recipe

Joined: April 5th, 2008, 6:00 am

June 9th, 2009, 6:27 pm #1

When Paul (our illustrious leader and grand master flash of our forum) visited Seattle last month he made me promise to post my super secret salmon recipe to the forum... well here is is complete with pics:

A note about salmon:
I prefer smoking Chinook (King) salmon because the fillets are thicker and the meat is oilier which actually concentrates during the cooking process. The white stripes in the meat contain the omega 3 fatty oils that are high in calories but are good for you and lower bad cholesteral. Less oily salmon such as Silvers (coho) and sockeye (reds) have slightly different flavors but are not as oily and can dry a bit once smoked. Sockeye has a more intense flavor and if you can find copper river variety (usually pretty spendy $$) it does smoke up wonderfully but I prefer to grill copper river fish.

A note about smoke:
Any fruit or nut bearing wood is suitable for smoking food. Some have mild flavors like alder, apple or hickory while others are strongly in character like cherry or mesquite. ( Its really personal preference as I have used all of them with salmon and they all come out great.) My current favorite is actually mesquite (being a native born Texan) but you have to watch it to not over smoke the fish... measuring this comes with practice.



Ingredients:
2 cups sugar (white, brown, organic... brown preferred)
1 cup salt (non-iodized, preferably sea salt)
2 gallons water
2-8 fillets of Salmon
1 smoker

As you can see from the ingredients there is no Worcestershire sauce, no teriyaki, no garlic... none of that stuff for me. I like to try to enhance the salmon flavor and bring it out pure with only smoke flavoring added.


Steps
1. Cut your fillets into finished size (usually each fillet results in 4 pieces)
2. Mix the sugar, salt and cold water together with a whisk until everything is completely dissolved
3. Place the fish into the brine and fully submerge all pieces



4. Put the container into the fridge overnight
5. After 12-15 hours take it out and use paper towels to pat dry each fillet as dry as possible.
6. Slice off a small piece and sample it for salt concentration. (Its fully cured and is awesome just like sushi).
7. If its too salty to taste the VERY gently and briefly run it under cold water to take away some salt... usually just a few quick seconds is enough. This is the most important step... if you dont get the salt content right you can waste the entire batch. This comes with practice as I have messed up a few batches myself.
Too little salt just doesnt taste very well and may not last as long in the fridge once smoked.
8. MOST IMPORTANT STEP...Place fish in front of a fan for at least 2 hours. Believe it or not this is the most important step and is almost always omitted by the casual smoker. The fan will dry the surface until it forms a "pellicle" which is sticky like flypaper and allows the smoke to adhere. It also seals in the moisture into the fish. Hey if its got its own name then you know I am not making this stuff up. (Unless I made that up too I suppose )



9. Now grease your racks with olive or canola oil the place your fish in the smoker according to size. I have a new Bradley Digital smoker which does a great job and is fully automatic. I just load up the wood discs in the tube on the left and set the smoke duration and it does the rest... No changing saw dust out every 30 minutes for 6-8 hours for me anymore. (Though inexpensive smokers like the little chief (about $60) work just fine, they just take more diligence during the smoking process.)



10. Advice on smoke duration and temperature: I usually smoke my fish for 6-10 hours and bring the smaller fillets (by the tail area) out early since they are thinner and complete quicker than the thicker sections near the head of the fish. Sometimes the fish just takes on the smoke quicker than other times and this is something to keep an eye on. I think it depends on moisture and temperature. I stick a temperature probe into a fillet and usually call it done if the internal temperature reaches about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

I immediately remove the fish and vacuum seal them while still warm of course eating at least a full fillet during the process on simple saltine crackers along with an adult bevy or two as Paul would say.



I hope you take this on as its very rewarding... Most people who try my fish seem to absolutely devour it so it must be a decent recipe and I would recommend to give it a go and have some fun with it.

Jim
Seattle
74 36' TF
69 19' SS
75 23' Lancer
Last edited by 36TFisher on April 11th, 2014, 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Paul
Paul

June 9th, 2009, 8:26 pm #2

Brothers and sisters !

I've been to the mountaintop !

I've been swimming with the manatae!

I've seen thundering herds of wildebeest grow silent when the Great One speaks !

and........I've had Jim's smoked salmon, lol !





Guys, it's GOOD.

I was aboard GIGGITY when Jim offered a beer to an interested onlooker (and also to me) and then to our utter amazement, he said,
"would you guys like some smoked salmon to go along with that".

The two of us, standing there holding a beer, could hardly believe our eyes and ears, ha.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" I thought to myself, "SMOKED SALMON, well bring it on brother" !

Jim gave every impression of having done this before.
He reached into the refrigerator conveniently concealed on board, pulled out a slab of the salmon, slit it open, popped it onto a tray, and the guy even handed out forks!

Man that stuff is GOOD with a beer, and of course, being a board a Commander in the Pacific Northwest sure slams the dunk on that one.

Guess I'm now in the market for a smoker !

Regards,

Paul

Quote
Share

Al
Al

July 3rd, 2009, 4:18 pm #3

Hey Jim,
Giving your formula a whirl today. Wild Sock-eye is in at Costco...had some for dinner last night, pretty tasty! Gotta have good fish to have good smoked fish. I'm in the fan the fish phase right now. Headed to the smoker in about an hour.

Cheers!
-Al
Quote
Share

Joined: April 5th, 2008, 6:00 am

July 3rd, 2009, 9:57 pm #4

Besides making sure its not too salty you just want to watch to not "cook" the meat in the smoker. Its been cured with the salt brine and the smoke process is also a preservative so just let the smoker do its thing and you will have great results. If you have a probe thermometer just keep an eye on it and it should eventually hit about 140 farenheit at the end of a 6 to 8 hour smoke. Don't let the meat get hotter than that or it will firm up.

Best of luck and let us know howe it turns out!

HAPPY 4TH EVERYONE!

Jim
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: April 5th, 2008, 6:00 am

July 7th, 2009, 12:28 am #5

Hey Jim,
Giving your formula a whirl today. Wild Sock-eye is in at Costco...had some for dinner last night, pretty tasty! Gotta have good fish to have good smoked fish. I'm in the fan the fish phase right now. Headed to the smoker in about an hour.

Cheers!
-Al
Salmon report needed... How did your first batch turn out?
Quote
Like
Share

James Brunette
James Brunette

July 7th, 2009, 1:10 am #6

Jim,

Let's hope his recent absence on the forum is not a result of the salmon, ha.

JB
Quote
Share

Al Callan
Al Callan

July 10th, 2009, 6:34 pm #7

Hey Jim,
It's me (Al Callan). The critical difference between the way I used to smoke fish and your recipe is creating the pellicle (SP) with the fan. WOW! What a difference it made. THe fish turned out "Fan"-tastic due to the fan creating the pellicle etc.

I don't have a fancy-pants bradley smoker, so I did have challenges with the temp control. Had a hot-smoke that lasted 3 hours. That's it!
Quote
Share

Al Callan
Al Callan

March 19th, 2010, 2:31 pm #8

One updated change to the process...
Thanks to Jim for teaching me about "Belly Candy." No, this has nothing to do with the spare tire around my mid-section, this is about how you filet the Salmon, and save the two strips at the bottom of each side of the fish for a special fatty treat known as "Belly Candy."

I processed my first batch of Belly Candy just like all the other fish last time, it wasn't bad.

At any rate, I'll try and post some pictures, and comments on the way to filet for this. I'll be cleaning some fish tonight, and headed for the smoker this weekend.

Cheers~!

-Al
Quote
Share

Al Callan
Al Callan

July 10th, 2011, 1:23 am #9

Time again to smoke some salmon using Jim's famous recipe. This year, I've got a new rig for smoking. I have a Traeger pellet BBQ. They recalled the unit and I got to keep the barrel part from my old one. So, I bolted it to the new one, creating a two-chamber BBQ. The secondary chamber is coming in right at 90 degrees! Perfect for Cold Smoking! This is a dramatic improvement, as the coldest I could get the primary is around 180.

The fish is brining tonight, hitting the smoker in the morning.
Quote
Share

Al Callan
Al Callan

January 29th, 2012, 2:17 am #10

Like a spawning King, I return to this page each time I decide to smoke some salmon. The ritual is wonderful, from beginning to end, it involves thinking of my friend Jim, of conversing about the art and the science of smoking salmon. It involves fish of course, and this week, the previously frozen wild sockeye is 3.99 per pound at Safeway. For those of you that are greenhorns to this wonderful page of Jim's, keep in mind, that previously frozen fish is optimal for smoking. The freezing kills the evil stuff/parasites that make you sick, and bursts the cells so that you get an increased smoke flavor.

All of that being said. Tonight, I've just finished putting a batch in to brine over night. I'll begin the next phase bright and early tomorrow.

This is a great time of year to smoke salmon. The ambient temp. being so cold, it keeps the smoking chamber temp really down there! Optimal for a long smoke to get that flavor all the way through.

If you're wondering about my double chamber smoking rig I mentioned last time, go look at youtube and just search for "double Traeger" you'll see it right on top.

Cheers, and as always, god bless Jim Peters for putting this recipe page out here.

-Callan
Quote
Share