Now first I should just disclaim I know many people may prefer differend techniques I share this one because I believe it it a little unique and I have used it for 4 years now as my sole smoked salmon recipe and have never heard a bad review. Well at least not to my face.
I know many many people prefer a brine for salmon, personally I always use a dry rub, not sure why i chose this way but the results have always really supported it to me.
I start with a very simple setup:
1 C salt
11/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C White sugar
2 TB fresh ground pepper. (I am sure that ground peper in any form is fine.)
1 tsp Cayanne
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 TBS minced garlic
2 large salmon filets Skin on
Optional- 6 pieces star anise ground with a morter and pestel. This add's a licoriche hint that is unique but many people fint the taste irritating.
once the dry rub it mixed I simply mound the entire top of the salmon with it keeping as even thickness as I can, I will sometimes add more brown sugar as I like the rub to completely cover and pink of the salmon. I then set the salmon into a drying tray on an edges cookie sheet and just rest it in my fridge for a min of 12 hours but anything up to 24 should be no problem. Now ehen i remove the salmon from the fridge all of the rub has become moist and now shows the dark brown os the wet brown sugar. This should be washed off in the sink under ice cold water. The outside of the fish now had a stiffness and i just lightly brush as much rub as i can from the fish with my fingers. Since this is not an exact science I try not to be overly picky about some pepper or sugar flecks on the fish. While i let the fish air dry I start my smoker. I have a small square brinkman job that they no longer produce and it usually takes 20 minutes to get my charcoal base and water pan ready which gives the fish time to air dry on my counter.
I like my smoker to sit right around 180-190 degrees and I wrap my grilling racks with foil before I set my fish inside.
With my smoker now setup I do my final step on the fish. I spoon about 3 tablespoons of honey onto each filet. I use a basting brush or a spoon to gently coat the entire top of the fish with a thin layer of honey which I then grind pepper over. The amount of peper you use should be done to taste I like to do one filet with only a slight sprinkle and do the second with a heavy coat but you may differ.
After all of this I set my salmon into the smoker. I smoke it for an average of 7 hours and wait for an internal temp of 145-150 with the intent that the honey seals the outer layer and it usually increases about 10 degrees even after removal. The nice side effect of the honey is it really locks the rub into the salmon with the moisture. The outside is slightly stiff and firm but the inside falls apart with tenderness and flavor. I usually end up giving most of my salmon away, as it is smoked for other people. (I smoked 160 lb's last year 4 filets at a time) I use a foodsaver to seal it with the skin on but after it cools and you refridgerate it to around 40 F you can just peel the skin off.
I hope I'm not to longwinded and my horrible typing skills have not interferred. As I just smoked 36 lbs last week and failed to take pictures I will add some when I smoke my next salmon.
Good Smoking, I hope this helps or intrigues someone.
Edit: So much for making a perfect and neat first post.... Hickory wood I smoke my salmon with hickory....