Saturday, July 11, 2015

Smoked Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce

  • 5 pounds salmon, trout or char
  • 1 quart cool water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (the salt can not iodine in it)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoon molasses
Smoking is an art, not a Science!

Mix together ingredients and and wait about 10 minutes for salt to dissolve, place your fish in a non-reactive container ( must be plastic or glass), cover and put in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours. This curing process eliminates some of the moisture from the inside of the fish while at the same time infusing it with salt, which will help preserve the salmon.
Next take your fish out of the brine and pat it dry. Sit the fillets on  your cooling rack, skin side down for at least 2 hours. I didn't realize the importance of this step until I smoked my first batch without drying and the pellicle was not set and I didn't get a lot of smoke flavor in my fish. The pellicle is the thin, lacquer-like layer on top of the fish that seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. Don’t worry, the salt in the brine will protect your fish from spoilage. Once you have your pellicle, you can refrigerate your fish for a few hours and smoke it later if you’d like.
Now you are ready to smoke your fish. Even though this is hot smoking, you still do not want high temperatures. Start with a small fire and work your way up as you go. I start smoking at 140°F for the first 2 hours, then I raise the heat to 160°F for another 2 hours, then finish at 175°F for a final two hours. To keep temperatures mild, always put water in your drip pan to keep the temperature down. If your smoker is very hot, put ice in the tray. It is important to bring the temperature up gradually or you will get that white albumin “bleed” on our fish.

After an hour in the smoker, baste your fish with maple syrup; do this every hour. Once your fish is smoked, let it rest on the cooling rack for an hour before you put it in the fridge. Once refrigerated and wrapped in plastic, smoked fish will keep for 10 days. If you vacuum-seal it, the fish will keep for up to 3 weeks. Or freeze your fish for up to a year.

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