I wanting to make some smoked salmon for the holidays. Or more like Lox. Want a nice firm fish that can be sliced thin for putting on crackers or toasted bread w/cream cheeze. That said, I presume this will be a cold smoked salmon. My question is... Do I dry cure or use a brine? How long do I cure it? How long to smoke it? Tried to make some last year and it came out like cooked fish, too flakey, not what I was looking for. Checked out Bratrules last salmon and it looks right but not sure on the cure as he did both hot and cold smoked. All help appreciated....Thanks
Wanting to make smoked Salmon.......Help!
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Edited by forluvofsmoke - 12/20/11 at 10:55am
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I dry cured it for 14 hours and i also added 1/4 teaspoon cure#1 per pound just for piece of mind. And i cold smoked it for 8 hours but next time i think i will go longer!! oh and the temp in the smoker never went over 90 degrees the whole time. more like 75-85.
hope that helps!!
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• Lox (or lachs) is salt-cured salmon that is essentially raw, never having been raised to more than 90° F. during processing. Lox recipes are difficult to find, as people tend to guard them as jealously as the Masons have guarded their secret rites for centuries. But here on LoxMania, all is revealed! The process below has been tried and tested for over twenty years.
Some lox is smoked and some lox is treated with dill and other herbs (so-called gravlax). The recipe given here is for very lightly smoked lox made of Alaska Silver salmon: the only ingredients are the salmon itself, salt, brown sugar and dark rum. The sole challenging step here is in "freshening" the product to the right degree of saltiness, rehydration and consistency. None of the other steps has to be perfect.
• There are five species of Alaska salmon: King (Chinook), Silver (Coho), Red (Sockeye), Pink (Humpy) and Chum (Dog).* King salmon is the oiliest, and makes the best kippered salmon, whereas silver salmon, being less oily, makes the best lox. You can make lox from the other species as well, but, if you compare them, you will find that silver is the best in terms of flavor and "sliceability."
*Some purists claim there is a sixth species, steelhead trout, another salmonid... but we shall not argue the point here.
• Sliceability is a key feature of lox. If the product is improperly processed, it will "smear" when you try to slice it. Properly processed lox can be sliced so thin that you can read through it.
• First of all you need fresh fish, not thawed-out frozen fish, whose flesh is somewhat broken down by the freeze-thaw cycle. But if you cannot get fresh, you'll have to make do with frozen, as it's better than nothing.
• There are six main steps in making lox:
1. Filleting the salmon, cutting into serving size pieces and scoring the skin
2. Dry salting (12 hours)
3. Brining (12 hours)
4. Freshening (1-2 hours) Critical step!!!
5. "Painting" with a rum and brown sugar mix (4-6 hours)
6. Smoking (1 hour or less)
• Fillet the salmon, but leave the skin side intact. Cut into serving size pieces.
• Score the skin side with a razor blade in parallel cuts (to allow the salt-sugar mix to be absorbed). Don;t cut the flesh — only the skin!
• Prepare a dry mix in the proportion of 3 parts coarse salt to 4 parts brown sugar. Avoid iodized salt.
• Sprinkle a layer of the salt-sugar mix on the bottom of a glass/plastic/stainless steel/porcelain tray or bin (never aluminum).
• Make a layer of the filleted pieces, cover with the salt-sugar mix, put another layer on, and so forth, until the bin/tray is filled. Put more mix on the thicker pieces, less on the thinner pieces. Sorry... can't quantify any better than this. It's just a matter of learning.... I call it "differential salting."
• Let the bin sit for 12 hours. Lots of syrupy liquid will appear (as the salt and sugar draw water from the fish). As the salt and sugar pretty much stop any decomposition, the bin need not be refrigerated, but try to keep it in a cool, shady place.
• Prepare a brine solution by mixing about 6 lbs. of coarse salt to a gallon of water. A clean 5-gallon plastic bucket is ideal. The brine is a saturated solution.... in other words, it has so much salt in it that any excess simply won't dissolve. It helps to use hot water, but make sure it is cool when the fish is added.
• Remove the pieces and with cold running water briskly rinse off any salt-sugar mix that remains.
•Add the pieces to the brine solution and let sit for 12 hours. Does not need refrigeration. Brining draws water from the fish as it salts the fist. This is what "cures" the lox, as it is not a cooked product.
•Empty the brine from the bucket and place a garden hose at the bottom of the bucket. Slowly run cold water through the hose, causing the bucket to overflow (obviously, this is an outdoor step). This will begin to desalt, or "freshen" the fish. Freshening is the most critical step of the process! After an hour, remove one of the thinner pieces, dry it off, test it for "sliceability" and taste it to make sure sufficient salt has been removed. This is strictly a matter of judgment! Thicker pieces may take two or three hours to freshen. If you over-freshen, the fish will become pale and waterlogged and those pieces will be ruined.
• As you remove the pieces, place them skin side down, on a large towel on a table.
• Prepare a syrup of brown sugar and dark rum...... say, two pounds of sugar to a fifth of rum..... pretty thick.... you may have to heat it to dissolve the sugar. Use a full-bodied, dark rum such as Myers or Coruba.
• Brush the syrup onto each piece. Set a fan at the end of the table where the fish is laid out. As the syrup is absorbed, brush on a new layer. Do this for 5-6 hours until a pellicle (or "skin") of syrup forms on the surface of the fish.
• Then, put the pieces in a smoker, and lightly smoke for about 30-60 minutes.... with hickory, alder, cherry, apple.... anything but mesquite. Do not let the temperature of the product rise above 90°, or those pieces will be ruined!
• Remove the pieces from the smoker, pack and freeze.
• OPTIONAL STEP: Before packing, you may wish to remove the pin bones from each piece with a needle-nose pliers. The bones are easy to spot, because the flesh around them will have shrunk down. They pull out easily. Their removal makes slicing the lox a bit easier, although the pin bones are very fine and will slice through if you leave them in. For "presentation lox" I always remove the pin bones, but for our family's own consumption, I leave them in because their removal is time-consuming.
• NOTE: Unlike frozen fresh fish, which, even when vacuum-packed, goes "off" in six months at the most, frozen, vacuum-packed lox will endure for up to three years in a freezer that holds temperatures at or below 0° F.
Hope this is a help/