My 2nd salmon smoke--amazing results (with QView)

Discussion in 'Fish' started by kgb1, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    This last weekend I finally did my second hot smoked salmon.  I used AKHap's method again and got amazing results (again).  Here's a few pics (QView)...

    These aren't the best fillets of Steelhead I've ever seen, but they were the best I found on short notice:

    90 minutes in the brine (no more, no less):

    A very nice pellicle after a 3-hour, fan-blasted drying:

    Looking mighty good after 5 hours of smoking with Cherry wood.  Reached IT of 140*...  time to eat!!!

    We got so excited to sit down with our dinner guests to eat, that I forgot to take a pic of the pieces on the platter or on a plate.

    It was great to get amazing results the second time around.  Looks like this is a very nice, repeatable process that I will enjoy for years to come.

    Happy Smoking.
  2. Beautiful! Just beautiful! Cheers! - Leah
  3. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks Leah.  And they tasted beautiful too.  [​IMG]
  4. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Please tell me what 'AKHap's method' is...?  I want to smoke some salmon tomorrow, and yours looks beautiful, and delicious!

    Also, what is pellicle?  ...and how does one make this happen?


    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  5. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Hello Katie.  I'd be glad to share with you what I have learned from this very forum.  I learned what I know from some great folks who have posted before me.  AKhap is a member of smokingmeatforums.  After doing a bunch of research on this site, I decided to give his method a try.  You can find his original (and full) post here...

    "Hot Smoking Salmon—Throwing Down the Gauntlet" (by AKhap).

    You can also take a look at my post from my first salmon smoke here:

    (it's got a few more pics than this post).

    The pellicle is a tacky surface produced on the flesh after drying.  This is an important step in allowing the smoke to "stick" to the flesh.  The pellicle is critical.

    For my own use, I took the liberty of condensing AKhap's original post (and all the comments) into a shortened version with just the key points.  (I hope AKhap doesn't mind).  I have pasted this "For Dummies", "Reader's Digest" version here...  

    Preparing the Salmon

    Start with good salmon, fillets, skin-on, and previously frozen.  Fresh salmon may take up the brine unevenly and this never happens with previously frozen fish, so I always use fish that has been previously frozen.  Never use Farmed Atlantic salmon. 

    Brining the Salmon

    The Brine Recipe:  For each gallon of water (brine) add one cup non-iodized salt and two cups brown sugar.  Bring to a boil while mixing, then cool.

    I use food grade five-gallon buckets and cut the salmon in chunks of about a half pound.  Cover with the cooled hypertonic brine and soak fish for exactly 90 minutes (no more, no less).  Then rinse well with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and place on the racks for pellicle formation.

    Drying the Salmon—The Pellicle

    “The pellicle is critical”

    Put fans on your fish on high speed; hit it with everything you have to produce a beautiful, glassy surface.  It is the single most important step in the entire process and cannot be ignored or worked around.  The surface is critical, but the depth is also an important element.  If it is very dry out and the surface glazes beautifully in 15 minutes it might make you think the pellicle is ready, but unfortunately it is not.  The pellicle is well formed when it is solid, glassy, continuous, does not give much when pressed, and looks and feels substantial.

    Smoking the Salmon

    Put the fish in the smoker and start the smoke running heavy.  This is the most important smoke as the fish is wetter and will absorb far more smoke now than later.  Consider using multiple woods:  a mild wood (alder, maple, birch, cottonwood) is a great starting point to get the smoke started.  Adding a wood like cherry (apricot, peach, apple, pear, or plum are very close) for a sour note followed by a good shot of hearty (mesquite, hickory, pecan) builds a flavor profile with a lot of character.

    Smoker temp:  140 degrees (peak of 150 max. if it’s hard to control heat)
    Fish is done at 140 degrees internal temp.
    Approx smoke time of 5 hours.

    Smoke fish to 140* F internal temp.  NEVER smoke salmon over 140 F !!!  The temperature is critical in smoking salmon and 140F is the magic number.  Start at 140F if you like and keep it there, or start under 140 and work up if you feel your fish needs a little more time.

    Salmon pieces are seldom the same thickness and conditions are always very different so there is absolutely no way to predict how long it takes to finish your fish in your smoker!  The fish should be very firm.  Start with the thinnest pieces first when looking for "done" and any pieces that hint at white fat are done.  The salmon should flake nicely and show very uniform texture throughout the entire piece.  

    So...   If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Happy smoking.
  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great looking salmon [​IMG]
  7. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Thanks for that!  That's exactly what I wanted to know.  I will be doing this tomorrow.  Hopefully, I get the pellicle right.  That's the only part I'm worried about.

  8. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Katie. Make sure to post with pictures and let us know how you did. I'm sure you're going to enjoy the results.
  9. katemail13

    katemail13 Fire Starter

    Should I assume that I am brining this at room temperature, not in the garage where it's cold?
  10. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    I brined with cool brine in the kitchen--so basically room temp. But doing it colder in the garage would be fine. Just don't do it warmer or above room temp.
    katemail13 likes this.
  11. [if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:punctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:DontVertAlignCellWithSp/> <w:DontBreakConstrainedForcedTables/> <w:DontVertAlignInTxbx/> <w:Word11KerningPairs/> <w:CachedColBalance/> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="--"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument></xml><![endif]Not trying to take over the thread but this is my second salmon smoke as well but my method is quite different from kgb's, see method below. Came out wonderful.

    Brine for Smoked Salmon


    • 8 cups water
    • 1/2 cup kosher salt
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • lemon pepper to taste
    • 1/2 (3 ounce) package dry crab and shrimp seasoning mix
    • freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or to taste
    • 1/2 dash hot pepper sauce (optional)
    • 2 lemons, sliced and crushed or lemon juice
    • 1 oranges, sliced and crushed or orange juice
    • 1/2 lime, sliced and crushed or lime juice
    • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced


    1.   Pour the water into a large bowl or small bucket. If you must use a pot, use one that does not contain aluminum. Stir in the kosher salt, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon pepper, parsley and seasoning mix. Add the garlic, hot pepper sauce, lemons, oranges, lime and onion. Soak your salmon in this brine for 12 to 36 hours. Smoke using your desired method until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
  12. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    kgb1, your salmon looks great to me.

    I also noticed that you are using the same exact smoker as I have. (CGSP).

    But my results were less than satisfactory.  Even when I added water pans for moisture.  Those did help, but pellicle was still to hard.

    See this thread.

    I see you live on a peninsula of the west coast, so I have to assume you have a mild temp and fairly high humidity most of the time and that may help.

    But regardless, I would like to talk with you about doing fish with our type smokers.  It's okay if you PM me.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

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