It's been a while since I last used my smoker to smoke up some salmon. But I recently found a great deal on some commercially caught salmon from the local Lummi indian tribe. A local fish market had some pink salmon on sale for just a buck and a half a pound. It was already cleaned, filleted and cut up into chunk sizes perfect for smoking. It had already been frozen as well which is my preference for fish I want to smoke.
So, after a recent run over to their shop to pick up about 20 pounds of fish, I brought it home and put it in our freezer waiting for a time when I could do the deed. Yesterday was the day.
I knew I wanted to back off the saltiness of the brine I use so I looked for a new recipe. This one is a 4 to 1 brown sugar to kosher salt ratio and includes some fresh garlic. I mixed the combination into a bowl adding the minced garlic as I stirred it together. Then laying each piece of thawed out fish skin side down in the bottom of a plastic tub, I poured in enough of the brine mix to cover the filets. Another layer, skin side up this time, went in on top of the brine mix. And so it went until all the brine mix and filets were in the tub and covered with the mix.
A placed a lid over the tub and placed it into the fridge out in the garage which has the space to hold the tub. It sits in there for about 6 hours. When it comes out there is a lot of liquid which has come out of the fish as it absorbs the salt and sugar flavors.
Next, rinse off the brine mix by washing the filets under the fawcett. Then, lay out the filets on the racks which will go into the smoker. Let the fish sit out to air dry for up to 4 hours. Then they are ready to head into the smoker.
Preparing the smoker means to clean it and all the parts that go into it carefully. Mine is an old electric model made by Masterbuilt. Interesting story as to how I came to own this smoker. I think I told it in a pervious blog entry. Anyway, I am careful to keep the elctrical parts away from the cleaning process. Once done, I place a cup of wood chips in the pan. I use a variety of wood types--apple, hickory, cherry, there are lots to chose from and they all impart their own special flavors to the fish. My favorite is alder which is the traditional wood around here.
How long to keep the fish in the smoker depends on your personal taste in the donenessof the filets. Some like them more and others less cooked. Whatever your choice, set the smoker at about 225 to 250 degrees and keep an eye on it.
Generally, about 2-4 hours will get it done. Practice will let you know what works best for your particular taste.
In the end, pull the racks and set them on a counter to cool. When cool, they are best sealed in air tight Seal-A-Meal type plastic. They will last much longer when you put the filets back in the freezer.
When serving the filets I like to set them out which crackers, cream cheese, capers and minced red onion. But it is fabulous just on top of a cracker by itself. Enjoy!