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How To Make Smoked Salmon – Easier Then You Think!

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Growing up in the Northwest, Salmon has always been a big part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are getting up while it was still dark to go salmon fishing with my family. We lived on Whidbey Island and the Puget Sound was my front yard. I don’t think I ever bought a salmon from a store until I was well into adulthood. I even lived across the street from one of the families for the show “Deadliest Catch” and played with their daughter often during elementary school. As a result, I love the small of salt water, the sound of the water and even seeing the grey clouds and mist that often drift over the water during the colder seasons.

We visited Tillicum Village and enjoyed this salmon bake over the fire. If you do not have this beautiful set up in your house or yard to slow cook your salmon over a fire, consider smoking your salmon. The flavor is more intense and it is preserved longer.

Salmon

Fortunately for my salmon loving self, I grew up and married a man who loves to fish too! The only “catch” is – he does not like to eat alot of salmon. However, he does love to make and eat smoked salmon. As a result we have been smoking our own salmon and making other recipes from the Smoked Salmon for years now.

During the Fall, my husband and other friends and family will often go on a fishing trip for a weekend or two. They will bring back their haul and we prep much of it for the freezer to get us through the year and share with family and friends, and then we also use a good share of it for smoked salmon. Not only do we love to eat smoked salmon but you can also store it in vacuum sealed bags for quite awhile. It makes great gifts too if you have family and friends

Smoked Salmon 2

My husbands family has been smoking their own salmon for years. Our favorite is a basic brine, but there are fancier versions you can use. Another thing you can use to add flavor is try different types of smoking chips (alder, apple wood, etc.).

We smoke our salmon with the skin on it, but you could do it without the skin too (here is good info on filleting a salmon if you prefer to go that route)

How to make smoked Salmon

There are a couple of basic steps used to smoke salmon:

  1. Clean and brine your fish (brining is essentially a salt based marinade that will cure your fish)
  2. Pat Dry, and let air dry
  3. Smoke your fish

That’s it. Its really that simple.

 

Here is what you will need to smoke a salmon:

  • Salmon (remove small pin bones if you see any)
  • Brine (recipe below)
  • Smoker
  • Wood Chips
  • Water

Smoke Salmon Brine For Your Fish:

A Smoke Salmon Brine is basically a marinade for the fish that will cure it. We like a simple brine, and this is how we make ours.

  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 1 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • Crushed black peppercorns
  • Salmon (this much brine should work for a medium size salmon (approx. 4 fillets)

Mix all the ingredients together in a container large enough to hold the liquid and the salmon. Mix until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

Submerge the salmon in the brine, skin side up, and put it in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours (we brine it overnight at our house). After you brine it, take the fish out and rinse brine off in cold water.

Pat dry your fish with paper towels, and then once its dry let it sit and air dry for 1- 2 hours (this step is optional, but results in a more flavorful smoked salmon, as it prepares the meat to let the smoke adhere better for that great flavor).  This is a good time to check again for any small pin bones, and remove those if you find them. You can add some pepper if you like a bit of heat.

Prepare your smoker while the fish is drying, according to your smokers direction (we use the Little Chief smoker that requires a small fire and water soaked wood chips).  There are many flavors of wood chips you can use, but we love the alder chips for great flavor for the salmon.

Once you have air dried the salmon, spray the wire racks of your smoker, and put the salmon skin side down on the racks. We like to add cracked black pepper to the top of the salmon before smoking it, but that is optional based on your tastes.

Smoking is complete when the fish reaches 140°F at its thickest point. This generally takes around 2 to 4 hours (we sometimes smoke ours overnight but you do want to be careful about overcooking it, and we prefer ours smoked a bit longer then the professional chefs probably do).

Once your salmon is smoked, I prefer to cool it down and add to the fridge (I like mine cold).  It is also a good idea to store it in an air tight container.

How to make Smoked Salmon

 

Printable Recipe for Smoked Salmon:

Here’s a printable version of the Smoked Salmon recipe for you to print off to put in your recipe binder or notebook.
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How To Make Smoked Salmon – Easier Then You Think!

This recipe for smoked salmon gives delicious flavors and it is so easy to make!

  • Author: Alex

Ingredients

Scale
  • Salmon (remove small pin bones if you see any)
  • Brine (recipe below)
  • Smoker
  • Wood Chips
  • Water

Smoke Salmon Brine:

  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 1 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • Crushed black peppercorns
  • Salmon (this much brine should work for a medium size salmon (approx. 4 fillets)

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together in a container large enough to hold the liquid and the salmon. Mix until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Submerge the salmon in the brine, skin side up, and put it in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours (we brine it overnight at our house). After you brine it, take the fish out and rinse brine off in cold water.Pat dry your fish with paper towels, and then once its dry let it sit and air dry for 1- 2 hours (this step is optional, but results in a more flavorful smoked salmon, as it prepares the meat to let the smoke adhere better for that great flavor).  This is a good time to check again for any small pin bones. Prepare your smoker while the fish is drying, according to your smokers direction. Once your salmon is smoked, I prefer to cool it down and add to the fridge (I like mine cold).  It is also a good idea to store it in an air tight container.

Once you have air dried the salmon, spray the wire racks of your smoker, and put the salmon skin side down on the racks. We like to add cracked black pepper to the top of the salmon before smoking it, but that is optional based on your tastes. Smoking is complete when the fish reaches 140°F at its thickest point. This generally takes around 2 to 4 hours.

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