Smoked Salmon for Snacking
I did this one awhile back, but I think it's a good "Step by Step", and I never showed it on this forum, so I figured I'd put it here for anyone who can use it. Everyone who has followed this has loved it.
The following is my results from smoking 8 batches of Salmon caught in Upstate New York. I experimented with many different ways to see what worked best for me. My variations included cold smoking for 3 hours before putting them in my MES 30, smoking with & without skin on, with & without water in pan, with apple juice in pan, with apple wood, with cherry wood, with hickory wood. I tried going hot right away, and I tried taking heat up gradually. I tried a few different mixtures in my brine.
I have also read that there are two ways to eliminate parasites that are said to be in nearly all fish. You must either cook the fish to over 160 degrees, or freeze it for at least 30 days at Zero degrees or below (Or other temps for other lengths of time). Since I only want to smoke my Salmon & not cook them, I chose to freeze mine to 0 degrees for 30 days or more before smoking.
The following is what seemed to be the best of my first 7 batches, and my eighth batch was a duplicate of the best of the first 7 batches to confirm that it was indeed the best. It was!
The Salmon I smoked were caught in Upstate New York, in a tributary of the Salmon River, near Pulaski, NY. They were all from Salmon approximately 30" to 36" long. The fillets at their thickest point were about 1 1/2" thick.
This will be the recipe and instructions I will follow for smoking Salmon from this day forward:
Note: This amount of Salmon was to fill 3 grill racks of an MES 30. Other smokers can fit more or less.
I discarded all other notes, because this was the best:
Thaw fillets, remove skin, cut the fillets lengthwise right down the middle and cut these strips into 7" or 8" lengths (usually 1/3 of the length of the fillet).
Put these pieces into the following brine:
Put 1/2 quart of apple juice in a pot on the stove, bringing to low boil & then down to simmer.
Add to this;
6 ounces of soy sauce
1/2 cup of non-iodized salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of Garlic powder
1/2 tsp of Onion powder
1/2 tsp of Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp of Dried Bay Leaf Flakes (or 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves)
Stir until salt is dissolved. Then add 1 1/2 quarts of water & ice to cool quickly.
This brine works for most fish. Just be sure to follow the brining times below.
Leave the Salmon pieces submerged in this brine for the following times:
Pieces Thicker than 1/2" --------------6 hours.
Pieces 1/2" Thick or less---------------4 hours
After removing from brine, rinse each piece well, pat dry, and lay on paper towels.
Get however many smoker racks you will need. My batches just fit on three racks (MES 30). Spray each rack with Pam to limit the amount the fish will stick to the racks. Dry the thickest pieces one at a time again with paper towels, and put these pieces on one rack. Dry the thinnest pieces, and put them on a different rack. Dry the rest of the pieces, and put them on a third rack. I put the three racks in my extra fridge overnight (uncovered) to dry & form pellicle.
The next day: (Time to smoke the Salmon)
Put the rack with thinnest pieces on top position of your smoker, medium on next position, and thickest on third position.
NO water in water pan.
Exhaust vent fully opened.
Put meat probe in center of thickest piece of fish.
Set smoker to 120 degrees.
If the pellicle is not completely formed, do not put smoke on for the first hour or two in the smoker.
Put hickory chips & a couple chunks of Hickory in smoking pan.
During smoking, when smoke stops, add Apple chips & chunks.
Use Hickory only for first couple hours.
I try for a light to medium smoke with my MES.
A little burst of heavy smoke doesn't seem to hurt.
Or if you have an AMNPS, fill it with pellets (I like Hickory).
Light one end real good, and put it on the bars, to the left of the chip burner.
Keep smoker at 120˚ for about two hours.
Bump temp to 140˚
Two hours later, bump to 180˚
Remove pieces as they go above 140˚ internal.
How long this takes doesn't matter, just so they go over 140˚.
Some of mine have gone up to over 160˚, and it didn't hurt.
Let the pieces cool for an hour or more in an open top plastic bowl.
Put the bowl in a fridge overnight (uncovered) to cool & air out.
Next day, dump pieces out on paper towels, wipe surface moisture off of each piece, and vacuum pack a couple pieces in each pack. Mark date & freeze packs.
Thawing before eating:
After freezing & thawing, the pieces have a lot of moisture on their surfaces. I found that the best thing to do is rinse each piece quickly, and wipe each piece dry with paper towels. Any piece from that pack that isn’t eaten immediately should be wrapped loosely in a paper towel, and stored in the refrigerator. After the first day or two, you can put the leftover thawed pieces in a baggie to keep from getting too dry. These pieces should keep in the refrigerator for at least 4 or 5 days. I never had any left thawed out longer than that, so I don’t know how much longer they’ll keep in the fridge.
Thanks For Looking,
Three fresh NY Salmon fillets:
Fillets split in half lengthwise:
Salmon cut in pieces, and put in brine:
Pieces rinsed, dried, and laid out:
Pieces on racks ready for overnight pellicle forming:
Completed Smoked Salmon:
That's all I could think of. Any questions, let me know.