Smokers make a popular gift for men at Christmas, and you will find plenty of them on sale this Christmas season. Whether you plan to give your favorite guy a smoker, or you are hoping to add it to your list of cooking tools this year, there are plenty of great recipes you can use to get the most from your new smoker. Skip buying the expensive smoked salmon at the mall kiosks and for a real treat make your own.
Choose small pieces of fresh salmon for this recipe. The type of salmon you use does not matter, you can use, king, sockeye, pink, or coho salmon.
Salmon Brine (makes enough for 5 pounds of salmon)
- 1 Quart of water
- 1/3 cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons minced onion
To Smoke the Salmon
- 5 Pounds fresh salmon (trout also works for this recipe)
- Extra maple syrup for basting
- Alder wood, or apple, cherry, oak, or hickory will also work well.
Mix the brine ingredients together in a plastic or glass container. Cut fish into small pieces leaving the skin on. Place fish in container and cover. Refrigerate salmon in brine for at least 8 hours and up to 24 to 30 hours for best results. Brining infuses the salmon with salt, and pulls much of the moisture out of the fish. At the same time it bring up the flavors from the brine into the fish.
When the brining period is complete remove salmon from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Let the fillets sit for two to four hours on a wire rack to dry. Make sure to dry the fish in a cool, breezy place. You can use a fan to circulate the air under and around the fish. The surface of the fish will become shiny when it is ready to go into the smoker.
It is important not to let the smoker get too hot, fish is delicate and should be smoked at very low temperatures. Heat smoker to 100 degrees to start your fish. Place fish in the smoker skin side down and smoke for approximately 2 hours. Turn up the temperature of your smoker to 140 degrees and smoke for another 2 hours. A final increase in temperature to 175 degrees will finish off the smoking in approximately 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 140 degrees.
Salmon should be basted once an hour with the maple syrup during the smoking process.
Let salmon cool for an hour after the smoking process is complete. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic or vacuum seal. Wrapped salmon will keep up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Vacuum sealed it will last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Vacuum seal and freeze for longer storage of up to six months.